Organizational Resilience of Intimate Partner Abuse Nonprofits During the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Heather Bomsta Michigan State University
  • John Kerr Michigan State University



Resilience, Nonprofits, COVID-19, Organizational Resilience, Intimate Partner Abuse, Intimate Partner Violence


Nonprofits often function as a key part of the social safety net by providing services to vulnerable populations and strengthening communities. Despite their essential nature, research on organizational resilience (OR) among nonprofits tends to focus on surviving financial distress, while other organizational aspects of resilience are less emphasized. Finding few nonprofit OR models that address our research context, we adapt and extend a model of OR from the for-profit sector. Our model adaptation includes technical, social and financial resources and expands each category to cover unique aspects of nonprofits that the for-profit OR model does not contain. We also borrow concepts from social-ecological resilience (SER) to enhance our nonprofit-adapted OR model, which we test using a case study of intimate partner abuse (IPA) agencies. We examined eight IPA nonprofits in a Midwestern state during the COVID–19 pandemic, interviewing both managers and frontline staff. We hope our adapted model can be used by researchers and practitioners to better understand and evaluate OR not only in IPA agencies, but all nonprofits.

Author Biographies

Heather Bomsta, Michigan State University

Heather Bomsta is an evaluator, researcher, and consultant. She has a doctorate in community sustainability and master’s degrees in psychology and management. Her areas of focus include gender, maternal and child mental health and wellbeing, resilience, intimate partner abuse, and sustainability. In addition to consulting and partnering with nonprofits on research, she has also worked and volunteered with nonprofits domestically and internationally.

John Kerr, Michigan State University

John Kerr is a Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. He earned his PhD in 1990 from the Food Research Institute at Stanford University. His research addresses individual and collective action for improved natural resource management in the context of international agricultural development.  He has published research on nonprofit organizations’ efforts to promote improved natural resource management practices in several countries including India, China, Ghana, Nepal, and Mozambique.






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