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Lincy Institute Report: How Connected is Southern Nevada's Nonprofit Network?

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Social network analysis of 460 local nonprofits in health, social services and education reveals the organizations that “make things happen."
Research  |  Nov 25, 2013  |  By Afsha Bawany
Media Contact: Afsha Bawany, Office of Media Relations, (702) 895-5515

A new report by The Lincy Institute at UNLV details the first comprehensive study of the partnering power of Southern Nevada nonprofits, highlighting several organizations as leaders for their ability to work together, leverage resources and information, and mobilize the nonprofit community.

Many of the issues facing Southern Nevada are complex and interrelated, which report authors say requires a coordination of services and resources in ways that exceed the capacity of any single organization. Authors also cite an increasing desire of funding organizations to support collaborative efforts, which further underscores the importance of partnership.

Close to 300 executive directors and leaders from health, education and social service nonprofit groups in Southern Nevada were surveyed on their organizations, connectivity within the nonprofit community, and operational challenges. Researchers then analyzed the survey results using specialized software to measure how information and resources flow between organizations, and which have the most influence, or connectivity, within the network.

Those organizations with the most connectivity were identified as leaders, including UNLV, United Way, HELP of Southern Nevada, Catholic Charities, Three Square, Clark County School District, Goodwill of Southern Nevada, and Opportunity Village.

"Nonprofit leaders are those who influence the opinions, motivations and/or behaviors of other organizations and stakeholders. These are the agencies that 'make things happen,'" report authors write. Through this research, the Lincy Institute has been able "to identify which organizations are the most active within Southern Nevada's nonprofit network, which have the greatest access to information and resources, and which organizations can serve as brokers, intermediaries and innovators of development and change."

The report also identifies survey results on the top opinion leaders within the nonprofit network and perceived barriers to collaboration. It also highlights a number of smaller organizations for their important role as connectors and information brokers, and as models for organizations with limited resources and budgets.

Report authors include Shannon Monnat, a former UNLV assistant professor of sociology and now assistant professor of rural sociology and demography at Penn State University; Anna Smedly, a UNLV Ph.D. student in sociology; and Fatma Nasoz, senior resident scholar of information technology at The Lincy Institute.

Read an abbreviated version or the full text of the report, "Identifying and Describing the Network of Health, Education, and Social Service Non-Profit Organizations in Southern NV."