Strategic Planning Fellowship

In 2015, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) launched a fellowship program offering a substantial, short-term and highly focused professional experience for individuals building careers in the public sector or the arts field. In 2016, this opportunity takes the form of a strategic planning fellowship. The candidate selected for this position will conduct research analyzing the characteristics of nonprofit professional associations and policy groups serving state government or the arts.

Project Context

This fall, NASAA will launch a comprehensive strategic planning process to guide our association's programmatic, operational and advocacy objectives for the years ahead. Integral to NASAA's approach to planning is a strategic examination of our external environment. This examination will identify salient trends shaping the future of state government and professional associations, will consider the plans and planning practices of NASAA's members and colleagues, and will analyze the characteristics of professional associations similar to NASAA.

Benchmarking Project

The first critical component of our environmental scan is a benchmarking project (affectionately entitled "Organizations Like Us") that compares and contrasts NASAA to similar nonprofit professional associations as well as policy think tanks or similar education/information organizations. The strategic planning fellow will:

  • identify nonprofit professional associations whose primary mission is to serve state government or the arts;
  • identify nonpartisan policy information or education groups with goals, products or programs similar to NASAA;
  • recommend a cohort of organizations to whom NASAA will be compared;
  • secure GuideStar/IRS Form 990 data on financial and operational characteristics of the comparison cohort(s);
  • build a spreadsheet to consolidate data describing the comparison cohort(s);
  • analyze cohort data;
  • draft a written report (including a narrative, tables and graphs) that highlights salient similarities and differences among the comparison organizations and NASAA;
  • present an overview of findings to NASAA staff.

Additional Research

In addition to the benchmarking project, the strategic planning fellow will conduct additional research pertinent to NASAA's environmental scan. This may include:

  • conducting literature reviews of academic journals or trade publications to secure forecasts or identify salient trends in the composition, attitudes or priorities of state legislatures
  • conducting literature reviews of academic journals or trade publications to secure forecasts or identify salient trends in the business practices of nonprofit professional associations
  • creating profiles synthesizing the structural and programmatic characteristics of national professional associations serving the arts
  • securing and cataloging supplementary materials


This is an excellent learning and résumé-building project for candidates with an interest in nonprofit finance, nonprofit management, American government, political science or the arts. Applicants considering careers in association management or public administration will find the work especially relevant. The fellow will have an opportunity to work with senior staff, including NASAA's chief program and planning officer and our research director.


Applications are invited from graduate or doctorate students or recent college graduates with a major in a relevant discipline. Additional requirements are:

  • knowledge of GuideStar/IRS Form 990 information (NASAA will provide training on particular data points, but general familiarity with the purpose and contents of Form 990 data is a prerequisite.)
  • a high level of fluency in Excel (The fellow will need to structure and format data tables, enter formulas and calculations and generate charts and graphs with minimal supervision.)
  • superior writing skills (Reports of findings ultimately will be used by NASAA staff, the Planning & Budget Committee and our Board of Directors.)
  • scrupulous attention to accuracy and detail
  • excellent verbal communications (for interfacing with NASAA staff and colleague organizations)

Project Timetable

Research optimally would begin in June and be completed by the end of August 2016. For an exceptional candidate who needs to align this fellowship with the fall semester schedule, a start date in October with completion by December 16 may be considered.

NASAA will provide work space at our office in Washington, D.C. (near Dupont Circle). Much of the research may be conducted off-site. However, the nature of this project will require periodic consultation with NASAA staff, so some on-site work will be required. Hours are negotiable.


NASAA is offering a modest stipend for completion of this project. The amount depends on a candidate's level of experience (academic and/or professional) and the degree of supervision required.

How to Apply

Submit a letter of interest, résumé and writing sample to NASAA Learning Services Manager Eric Giles, (, Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

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