Binghamton Research Magazine - Spring/Summer 2011 - (Page 17)
created nonprofit organizations and the roles they played after 9/11. He read tax-exemption applications the groups submitted to the IRS and identified the “defining characteristics” of each. For example, some groups may be geographically based, while others might be affiliated with a fire company or, like Windows of Hope, a 9/11 employer. “All of the categories represent where people’s passions lie in making a difference in the community,” he says. But some organizations lacked direction. Campbell pointed to an application from two people in the Midwest who planned to start a nonprofit that would provide foster care for orphans. “They had no connection to New York City,” he says. “They had no funding source. I think people have a lot of positive energy and they are not sure where to direct it.” Campbell found that most of the new post-9/11 organizations ceased operation within two years. Once the money was raised, the group disbanded. Those that continued likely had strong ties to the families of victims. Campbell’s second research project, “Organic and Sustainable: The Emergence, Formalization and Performance of a September 11th Disaster Relief Organization,” examined one such group: Windows of Hope. The case study was published in Nonprofit Management and Leadership last year. The study was a logical extension of the research; it also gave Campbell an
opportunity to reflect on the factors that contributed to the group’s success. “There was a shared sense of identity among this group of hospitalityindustry workers,” he says. “We have to take care of our own: That’s what brought them together. But it wouldn’t have mattered if they hadn’t been able to bring in resources. If you look at the hospitality industry, it has resources and knows how to leverage them.” Windows of Hope leaders also understood the need for collaboration and knew when to ask for help, Campbell says. “Their willingness to acknowledge what they did not know and to use Community Service Society allowed them to be responsive quickly,” he says. The lessons Campbell’s unique research has drawn praise from nonprofit leaders. “He builds on his practical experience in the sector and his considerable knowledge of theoretical and managerial issues,” says Susan Chambré, a professor of sociology at Baruch College who has written about nonprofit groups formed in response to the AIDS epidemic. “His study of new organizations responding to 9/11 is the only
study I know about that looked at the creation of a new set of nonprofits in response to that event.” Both “Stand by Me” and “Organic and Sustainable” offer lessons to post-disaster organization founders and advisors, Campbell says. The projects, in particular, can help a new organization get off — or even stay on — the ground by providing some key questions to address. “What is the life cycle of an organization founded in response to a disaster?” Campbell says. “Are you looking to go out of business after a year, which is fine but unusual? What is it you are trying to accomplish?” Perhaps most important, Campbell would like to see closer coordination between new groups and the nonprofit infrastructure. The IRS can help make that happen when nonprofit applications are approved, Campbell says, and produce more success stories. “These organizations need a connection to the existing service-delivery infrastructure,” he says. “I want to make sure these people talk to each other.” — Eric Coker
A Katrina comparison
David Campbell will next turn his research attention to a second U.S. disaster: Hurricane Katrina.
Binghamton University • BINGHAMTON RESEARCH • Spring/Summer 2011
More than 400 new nonprofit organizations received approval for charitable activities in response to the 2005 storm, which devastated New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf coast. Campbell will analyze the groups and see how their life cycles compare to the 9/11 organizations. “One of the things I heard about my research is: ‘Well, New York is New York. You can’t generalize from a case study of New York. Can you compare Katrina?’ “Katrina was a different kind of extreme event from 9/11,” Campbell says. “It did a lot more damage to property and created a different set of challenges than 9/11.”
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