News from the Bush School

New Research on NGO-Donor Relations Wins Prestigious Award

October 01, 2013

October 1, 2013

Research by a professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University on relations between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their donors will be recognized by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) with the prestigious Gabriel G. Rudney Memorial Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action for 2013. Dr. Khaldoun AbouAssi will receive the award at ARNOVA’s annual meeting in November.

“Hands in the Pockets of Mercurial Donors: How Three Theories Explain NGO Responses to Shifting Funding Priorities” demonstrates how volatile relationships between NGOs in developing countries and international donors can affect the missions and behaviors of NGOs. The research focuses on Dr. AbouAssi’s native country of Lebanon.

“I found that NGOs respond to changes in funding in a variety of ways.  I studied the response of four environmental NGOs to shifts in the funding decisions of two common donors,” said AbouAssi.  “The responses from the NGOs to the changing donor priorities ranged from suspending the relationship with the donor, to trying to reach common ground and maintain the relationship, to automatically executing the donor’s interests and adapting to the situation.  I then used quantitative data to show that these responses were influenced by NGO dependence on the donor and the ties NGOs have in local donor networks. Understanding how donors think and how their priorities can affect the important work of NGOs can be a key to increasing NGO effectiveness in critical areas of the developing world,” he added.

The Rudney Award selection committee cited AbouAssi’s dissertation for its attention to theory, contributions to the field of research, and relevance to both nonprofit organizations and the broader environment in which voluntary organizations participate. The committee also noted the research’s innovative approach and challenging field work and that it moved theory forward in a non-Western context.

“We’re delighted to see Dr. AbouAssi’s excellent work recognized with this prestigious award,” said Bush School Dean Ryan Crocker.  “It is yet another indication of the high quality of our faculty and the impact their research has on public policy around the world.”

AbouAssi holds a PhD in public administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.  He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.  He publishes extensively on NGOs and international development issues, and has trained civil servants and NGO executives on citizen participation, fund development, volunteerism, and collaboration.