New Board Member Feature: Ruth K. Hansen
Dr. Ruth K. Hansen is an Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. With a dedicated career at the College of Business and Economics, she also serves as the Director of the Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies. Dr. Hansen’s academic journey is informed by professional work to advance the opportunities available for marginalized populations, especially immigrants, women, and those with mental health challenges. These experiences have distilled into a profound passion for social justice, leading her to focus her research on philanthropic behavior, nonprofit fundraising, and the effective resourcing and management of nonprofit organizations. Her work delves deeply into understanding the dynamics of fundraiser and donor behavior and how stereotypes and social preferences affect resource allocation.
Her extensive research, which contributes significantly to the field, often explores these themes, aiming to bridge the gap between academic theory and practical application in nonprofit management. Her recent publications include “Applying a stakeholder management approach to ethics in charitable fundraising,” and, with Dr. Lesley Alborough, “Reframing fundraising research: The challenges and opportunities of interpretivist research practices and practitioner researchers in fundraising studies,” both published in the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing. She contributed the chapter “Theory in Fundraising,” to the new edition of Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (Shaker, Tempel, Nathan, & Stanczykiewicz, eds.). Her research with Lauren Dula on fundraising appeal letters, supported by the AFP Foundation, is the subject of a series of articles in Advancing Philanthropy. A new essay written with Dr. Gregory Witkowski weaves together critical post-colonial theory and social science treatment of stereotypes to offer the Cross-Sectoral Bias Theory to explain how existing social structures and assumptions result in pervasive, unevenly distributed patterns of unmet needs. The essay, “Sector Theorists Should Consider How Social Values Determine Unmet Needs,” will be included as a chapter in Reimagining Nonprofits: Sector Theory for the 21st Century (Witesman & Child, eds.), due out in early 2024.
Dr. Hansen has more than 20 years’ professional experience as a fundraiser and is a former board member of AFP-Chicago. Beyond her work in academia, Dr. Hansen is actively involved in community service and volunteerism, embodying the very principles she teaches. Her commitment to community engagement is not just a professional pursuit but a personal passion, reflecting in her involvement with various local and national nonprofits. Dr. Hansen’s work in these organizations often includes providing expert advice on fundraising strategies, grant making, and organizational development, drawing from her academic and practice backgrounds. This blend of academic expertise and practical involvement in the nonprofit sector her to bring both theoretical and real-world insights to her students. Through her dedication and contributions, Dr. Hansen has become a respected figure in the nonprofit community, inspiring students and professionals alike to pursue meaningful careers in service of society.