Category Archives: 2013

Out of the Shadows: Nonprofit Governance Research from Democratic and Critical Perspectives

Chao Guo, Barbara A. Metelsky and Patricia Bradshaw

The goal of this book chapter is two-fold: 1) to review theoretical developments in the study of nonprofit governance from the perspectives of critical and democratic theories; and 2) to deconstruct the silences in the reviewed literatures, to reveal what has been kept in the shadows, and then identify research that might address these gaps. Consistent with critical and post-modern traditions, we start the chapter by declaring our commitment to democracy, inclusion, and power sharing. In the next section, we review and synthesize the democratic perspectives on the study of nonprofit governance, with a focus on theories of representation and participation. We then turn to the literature from various critical perspectives, and explore the roles that these perspectives play in illuminating often-neglected or overlooked aspects of nonprofit governance. We conclude with recommendations for a research agenda, and a discussion of how this agenda could inform the development of more participatory, inclusive, and change-oriented governance practices.

In C.J. Cornforth and W.A. Brown (eds.) New Perspectives on Nonprofit Governance. 2013. London: Routledge – Full Version



Web Disclosure and the Market for Charitable Contributions

Gregory D. Saxton, D. Neely and Chao Guo

Nonprofit organizations face intense competition in the market for charitable contributions. Increasingly, donation decisions are made online, and organizations have responded by implementing substantive Internet disclosure and reporting regimes. We posit here that the voluntary disclosure of financial and performance information inherent in these regimes provides additional relevant information to a broad array of market participants, and thus has a positive impact on the receipt of charitable contributions. We test our hypotheses on a random sample of 400 US nonprofit organizations by building on the well established economic model of giving (Weisbrod and Dominguez, 1986), in which donations serve as the proxy for demand. Our central research question is thus: Are donors willing to “pay” for Web disclosure? Results indicate a positive relationship between the level of charitable contributions and the amount of disclosure provided by an organization on its website; however, performance and annual report disclosure are more important than financial disclosure, and performance disclosure has the biggest impact in organizations that are less reliant on donations.

Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming (Available on SSRN)

Tweeting Social Change: How Social Media are Changing Nonprofit Advocacy

Chao Guo and Gregory D. Saxton

How are nonprofit organizations utilizing social media to engage in advocacy work? We address this question by investigating the social media use of 188 501(c)(3) advocacy organizations. After briefly examining the types of social media technologies employed, we turn to an in-depth examination of the organizations’ use of Twitter. This in-depth message-level analysis is twofold: a content analysis that examines the prevalence of previously identified communicative and advocacy constructs in nonprofits’ social media messages; and an inductive analysis that explores the unique features and dynamics of social media-based advocacy and identifies new organizational practices and forms of communication heretofore unseen in the literature.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, forthcoming (Available on SSRN)

Mapping the Representational Dimensions of Nonprofit Organizations in China

Chao Guo and Zhibin Zhang

To what extent do China’s non-profit and voluntary organizations have the capacities to represent effectively the interests of their constituents? In this paper, we examine the prevalence of various representational dimensions in these organizations. Our survey findings provide evidence that, other things being equal, an organization’s levels of descriptive and participatory representation have a positive and significant impact on its levels of substantive and symbolic representation. Our findings also show that organizational type matters: social organizations are more substantively and symbolically representative than private non-enterprise organizations, whereas advocacy-oriented organizations are more symbolically representative than those that are not advocacy-oriented. Our case studies further illustrate how the typical advocacy-oriented organization differs from the service-oriented organization in the development of its ‘representational mix’, how an organization’s ‘representational mix’ evolves over time, and how the relationship between the organization and its supervisory agency affects its various representational dimensions.

Public Administration 91, No. 2 (2011): 325-346 

Religious Affiliation, Religious Attendance and Participation in Social Change Organizations

Chao Guo, Natalie J. Webb, Rikki Abzug, Laura R.A. Peck

How does religion affect an individual’s likelihood of volunteering for social change causes? This study reports on findings from an analysis of the 2005 wave of the COPPS supplement to the PSID to examine the effects of religious tradition (affiliation) and religious attendance (religiosity) on social change volunteering. We find that adherents to the more liberal Christian denominations—mainline Protestant and Catholic—are more likely to volunteer with social change organizations than are Evangelicals. We also find that adherents to other minority religions such as Judaism and Buddhism and individuals with no religious belief are all more likely to volunteer with social change organizations than are Evangelicals. We find a positive and significant relationship between religious attendance and social change volunteering, but find little difference in the effect of religious attendance on social change volunteering between Evangelicals and other religious traditions (except for Catholics).

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 42, no. 1 (2013): 34-58