posted February 26, 2001

Government and Non-Profits

Government emphasis on faith-based
services adds particular timeliness to a Hope College
professor's latest research project.

Deborah Sturtevant, associate professor of
sociology and social work, is continuing her investigation
of the relationship between government and charitable
nonprofit organizations in Michigan. Her special emphasis
is on the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations in the
public policy process and how their role and influence can
be enhanced.

"The content is generally relevant, but it is
particularly relevant to what is going on right now with the
federal and state policy debates on Faith-based nonprofit
organizations in the delivery of human services," Sturtevant
said.

Her research is being supported through a grant
awarded by the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund of the Aspen
Institute in Washington, D.C. Out of 23 proposals from
Michigan, the fund chose only three for funding. The
$15,000 grant runs through December of 2002.

"This time I will go directly to the source for
the interviews, the legislators themselves. I am interested
in knowing their views of the relationships between
government and nonprofit organizations and also their
understanding of the role of nonprofits in the public policy
process," Sturtevant said.

As a result of her research project, Sturtevant
has already been invited to meet with other researchers
concerned with nonprofit research, and she has been asked to
serve on the Committee for Nonprofit Research sponsored by
the Michigan Nonprofit Association in Michigan. She is also
a reviewer for the foremost national journal in nonprofit
research, the "Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly." A
member of ARNOVA, the nonprofit researchers group,
Sturtevant has presented papers on her earlier research at
annual conferences.

Sturtevant noted that she feels it's particularly
important for her research to be of use to scholars and
human service providers both.

"I prefer to do research that has practical
implications," she said. "And so this will be a service in
a way. I'll be educated by members of the legislature and
then I'll be able to share the information with nonprofit
providers."

The project is part of Sturtevant's on-going
interest in the nonprofit sector and public policy issues.