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Abstract

This paper examines how nonprofit leaders talk about the populations they serve, specifically financially disadvantaged populations in food pantries and homeless shelters. Previous literature exploring the nonprofit sector considers volunteers and their experiences, although leaders set the tone for the organization’s language, and ultimately the quality of service. Five nonprofit organization leaders from different organizations participated in semi-structured, in-depth interviews that lasted between 36 to 72 minutes. Questions inquired about their average workweek, their contact with clients and volunteers, and how they break stigmas about their clientele. Findings suggest that nonprofit leaders consider their clients as individual cases, and their primary strategy includes storytelling when talking about clients, retaining volunteers, and constructing their role in the organization as well as the community.

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