My research program is interwoven with three core themes–the 3Cs: Community, Collective and Connective. In summary, I combine mixed methods and computational approaches to examine the roles and capacities of nonprofit, philanthropic and grassroots organizations to advance public problem solving online and offline.
Community-oriented: Looking at both online and offline communities, my research uses a place-based perspective in understanding resource inequality across geographical communities, and how the nonprofit sector shapes and is being shaped by place itself. In the online playing field, I examine online communities on social media and other online platforms where the public, stakeholders and policymakers interact and engage to advance local wellbeing and policy process.
Collective-focused: The unit of analysis of my research is the bottom-up collective “self-governing” phenomenon in which people come together for common good to address local and public problems through organized organizations such as community foundations, nonprofits, grassroots groups (Lohmann, 1992).
Connective-driven: I look at their roles and capacities to make meaningful connections and online connective actions, such as engaging with local communities, social media advocacy, building diffused networks for advancing policy reforms.
The Effect of Place-based Inequality on Philanthropic Capacity
Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s perspective, this project explores the extent to which place-based inequality explains the differing philanthropic capacity of community foundations. Based on data from 2,177 serving counties of 943 community foundations across the U.S., we found that community foundations experience a place dilemma: How much they can fundraise are bounded by the amount of local resources, and concurrently, by the degree of local inequality within the communities.
The ‘Matthew Effect’ in Generosity: Examining the Impact on Nonprofit Capacity Across Place and Time
This project examines the “philanthropic gap” across the US, with a particular focus on how nonprofits that serve disadvantaged communities are affected. At the end, we will offer recommendations for nonprofit and policy leaders on how to how to foster philanthropy and how to use that philanthropic giving to support a healthy nonprofit sector that promotes volunteering, political participation, services, and programs to serve community needs.