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LSU Shreveport institute studies impact of student consulting to nonprofits

The Institute for Nonprofit Administration and Research at LSU Shreveport is examining the value of service learning carried out by graduate students in the nonprofit administration degree.

As part of the program, students craft detailed proposals for fundraising, planned giving and development for a nonprofit participating in its case study. LSUS sociologist Helen Wise wants to glean the long-term value of the students’ efforts for the nonprofit.

“We’re following up at six months and at one year to see, well, these projects, you thought they were great. Did you actually use them? What was the monetary value to your organization? What were the impediments to implementing the projects that the students were doing?” Wise said.

In lengthy follow-up surveys over the past two years, Wise has found the organizations were at first very motivated by what the graduate students presented, but these proposals were mostly nixed over time. The common barrier, she says, is not enough manpower to carry out the plans.

“It’s been really interesting to see that change between, man, these were great presentations, but we really didn’t use them. From a curriculum standpoint, how do we start to bridge that gap or is that something that students need to also be looking at is how to implement it?” Wise said.

Wise and her colleagues are writing a research note that will be published next month in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership. Wise is conducting this research alongside the University of San Diego and Missouri Valley College.

She seeks nonprofits who would like to be part of the program’s case studies. The Institute is soliciting organizations for the spring graduate studies coursework. Organizations that wish to be considered can send an email to inar@lsus.edu.