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Research Views Relationships
Between Gov't and Nonprofit Organizations

Posted February 26, 2001

HOLLAND -- 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.

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