Do Human Service Nonprofits Offer More Than Often Meets the Eye?

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Knorre /

May 9, 2012; Source: Tulsa World

A recent study suggests that nonprofit human services organizations may offer a valuable, somewhat intangible benefit beyond their central purpose: hope. At the Center of Applied Research for Nonprofit Organizations at the University of Oklahoma, Chan Hellman, an associate professor of human relations, has been studying hope at the Parent Child Center and the Day Center for the Homeless in Tulsa. In each case, Hellman found, “Those with high hope always do better in programs and quality of life” and the nonprofits involved, Hellman says, are the “pathways to hope.”

According to the Tulsa World, “the ultimate goal behind the research is to provide a common language for nonprofit groups to create a collective impact”—one which Hellman says government may listen to because “it’s data-driven.” The studies have already had an impact on the Parent Child Center, which is now working to make sure that hope is a core aspect of what it delivers in the process of offering programs.

Are Hellman’s findings accurate and replicable? More research is likely needed to know for sure. But we hope so. –Mike Keefe-Feldman