National Conference in Hartford to Focus on Nonprofits, Philanthropy and Voluntary Action

The theme will be “Nonprofit and Voluntary Action in an Age of Turbulence” when more than 600 researchers, leaders and teachers from around the nation gather in Hartford later this week for the annual convention of ARNOVA – the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action.

As the leading organization supporting research and education in the fields of voluntary action, philanthropy, nonprofit management, and civil society, ARNOVA conducts its annual conference to create a public conversation on, as well as opportunities for presenting research about, pressing issues and vital opportunities facing the voluntary or nonprofit sector. It is considered to be both a showcase for the best and most current research, as well as a seed bed from which new research is born.

Scholars, practitioners and studenArnovats from the U.S. and beyond will exchange knowledge about voluntary action, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy – and Connecticut will be well represented among participants.   David Nee, representing the Connecticut Data Collaborative and Terry Edelstein, nonprofit liaison to the Governor will be among the panelists for a plenary session of the Conference.  Among those attending the national conference close to home are Kyle Barrette (UConn), Mary Bernstein (UConn), Ron Cretaro (Connecticut Association for Nonprofits), Robert Fisher (UConn), Richard Frieder (Hartford Public Library), Maggie Gunther Osborn (Connecticut Council for Philanthropy), Reinaldo Rojas (UConn), Homa Naficy (Hartford Public Library), Nmarasimhan Srinivasan (UConn), Rebecca Thomas (UConn) and Jun Yan (UConn).

The three-day conference (Thursday-Saturday) at the Connecticut Convention Center will include more than 100 sessions attendees can choose to attend.  Frieder will lead a session highlighting the Hartford Public Library’s Immigrant and Civic Engagement Project.  Cretaro will conduct a session devoted to outlining Connecticut’s Collaboration with Human Services Nonprofits.  Rojas will present Community Development and Its Socioeconomic Impact in Latino Neighborhoods.

Over recent decades, the public conversation at the conference – held last year in Indianapolis - has evolved to address new developments in the fields, including social entrepreneurship, social economy an4 Arnovad all aspects of civil society, as well as to meet the needs of those who study and lead “the social sector.” ARNOVA’s Annual Conference is the largest gathering held regularly anywhere devoted to these matters, according to the organization.

Conference organizers report that roughly 80 percent of participants will be based in universities or colleges, and include leading scholars and teachers. Many also serve as community consultants and nonprofit board leaders. The remaining 20 percent will be staff or leaders of nonprofit or social-economy organizations, full-time consultants to those groups, and some who play other roles in the world of philanthropy.

ARNOVA’s work benefits all of society by helping generate the knowledge and perspectives that can make organizations and enterprises more effective. With a focus on teaching, we are also playing a key role in preparing the next generation of leadership. Special projects we carry out have directly addressed the needs of nonprofits and foundations in developing new knowledge and sustaining important conversations vital to refining and improving their practices and services. In short, a wide range of organizations and individuals seeking to serve the public good are strengthened by the work of ARNOVA and its members.

Among the conference sponsors are the UConn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Public Policy and the Hartford-based law firm of Reid and Riege.

Photo:  David Nee, Terry Edelstein, Ron Cretero, Richard Frieder