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

Conceptualizing Web-based Stakeholder Communication: The Organizational Website as A Stakeholder Relations Tool

Gregory D. Saxton and Chao Guo

With the near ubiquity of the organizational website, organizations’ online stakeholder relationships have dramatically increased in prevalence, complexity, and financial and strategic importance. To help advance our understanding of these relationships, we introduce and test the multi-dimensional concept of Web based stakeholder communication using original data on US community foundations. After presenting the conceptual foundations of Web-based stakeholder communication, we develop operational measures of its key dimensions, namely stakeholder targeting and the balance of organizations’ online stakeholder portfolios. We then explore the outcomes of Web-based stakeholder communication by testing for its relationship to subsequent levels of charitable contributions. We end with an in-depth discussion of the most important implications for organizational theory and practice.

Communication & Science Journal, Forthcoming (2012)

A New Strategy for Reducing Selection Bias in Non-Experimental Evaluations, and The Case of How Public Assistance Receipt Affects Charitable Giving

Laura R. Peck, Ida D’Attoma, Furio Camillo, Chao Guo

We are grateful to the agencies that fund the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Atlantic Philanthropies for funding the collection of data in the first four waves of the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study (COPPS), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for funding the 2007 and 2009 data collection of the Center Panel as well as the dissemination of the 2005 data. We appreciate the research assistance of Andrea Mayo at Arizona State University (ASU) and Will Huguenin at Abt Associates Inc. We also acknowledge participants in the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs Research Colloquium, in the ASU Center for Population Dynamics Colloquium, participants at our Fall 2011 panel at the Research Conference of the American Evaluation Association, and in Abt Associates’ Journal Author Support Group for their useful input.

Policy Studies Journal 40, no. 4 (2012): 601-625

The Road Less Traveled: Establishing the Link between Nonprofit Governance and Democracy

Chao Guo

Editor’s Note:

Guo focuses on two research traditions that illuminate the relationship between governance and democracy, in the hope of shedding some new light into understanding the democratic deficit within the sector and its possible remedy. Because, as Guo concludes, “if the sector as a whole does not recognize that there is a tremendous unrealized potential for nonprofit governance to contribute to democracy, it could cost the sector quite dearly over time.” 

The Nonprofit Sector 19, No. 4 (2012): 26-31