Nonprofit Policy Forum: A peer-reviewed journal for geeks like me

I know. It’s not every day that someone’s getting emotional about a peer-reviewed journal. I mean, who uses the term “peer-reviewed” in conversation, anyway?

But, people.

Put yourself in my shoes.

This thing rocks.

The Nonprofit Policy Forum is a pretty new journal, which, in today’s age of the declining significance of print media, is fairly significant itself.

And its content is all available online, which is huge in the world of the peer-reviewed, since my former students find themselves abruptly excluded from academic literature as soon as their access to the university’s considerable subscription library expires.

AND, it focuses on policy process and content, and how both affect and are affected by the nonprofit sector. In other words, giving greater official legitimacy to the study and practice of advocacy and policy change, by nonprofit organizations, as well as discussing emerging policy trends that impact how nonprofits operate.

So, now you understand.

In the first issue, which is the only journal I can remember ever reading in its entirety, is an article reporting that putting clients (here, “constituents”) on a nonprofit Board of Directors and increasing their participation in strategic decision-making significantly increases the intensity of the organization’s advocacy, just as receipt of government and foundation grants tends to decrease it.

In other words: what we know to be true about the countervailing pressures that weigh on nonprofit organizations in the advocacy arena, confirmed empirically and actually citable. Oh, happy day!

There’s also an interview with Ambassador Andrew Young, specifically discussing the effectiveness (and limitations thereof) nonprofit organizations in shaping policy and a conceptual paper outlining how foundations can approach their philanthropy with an eye towards transformation and systems change. And an article introducing the challenges related to the emergence of social businesses has particular relevance for social workers, who can struggle at times to find ways to practice ethically and effectively in these newer organizational models.

I’m never one to pretend that academic journals make the world go ’round. Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so hard-pressed to find the time to submit to them?

But, when sometimes I feel very much like an outlier in the world of academia, given my particular areas of interest, it is very affirming to find communities of like-minded souls, and to be able to turn to their ideas on which to build my own. The way that scholarship is supposed to work.

Here’s to happy reading (and citing)!

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