Headshot of Dr. Femida Handy

Femida Handy, PhD

  • Professor

  • Director, PhD in Social Welfare Program

3701 Locust Walk, Caster Building
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
  • office: 215.573.2660
  • fax: 215.573.2099

Research Interests

Volunteering: Who is a volunteer, costs and benefits of volunteering, sports volunteering, informal and formal volunteering, episodic volunteering

Volunteering and health: Volunteering as an intervention to enhance social functioning in young adults with autism spectrum disorder, health benefits of volunteering in older adults, retirement from volunteering in aging adults

Global philanthropy: Institutional structures enabling philanthropic giving in the global context development and validation of the Motives to Donate scale, professionalization of fundraising

Corporate social responsibility: Corporate Philanthropy, employee volunteering, public perception of CSR, attractiveness of CSR for job-seekers

Environmental habitus: Intergenerational transmission of environmental behaviors and attitudes

Femida Handy is Professor of Social Policy at the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and the Director of the PhD program. Her research and teaching focus on the economics of the nonprofit sector, volunteering, philanthropy, nonprofit management, environmental issues entrepreneurship, and microfinance.

Dr. Handy served as the Editor-in-Chief of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly from 2010-2016, the premier journal in the field, and serves on the editorial board of several academic journals. Professor Handy has published widely in a variety scientific journals on a variety of nonprofit-related topics, and her work has garnered many awards. Her most recent co-authored book is Ethical–decision making for social impact and examines the ethical dilemmas arising in nonprofits One area of prominence is her scholarship on volunteering and philanthropy, in an international context. Her recent co-authored books on philanthropy are The Practice and Promise of Philanthropy in India (2016) and as well the award-winning book, The Palgrave Research Companion to Global Philanthropy (2015), which she co-edited. She has also written on environmental issues, including a children’s book that introduces the concept of ecological footprint.

Professor Handy‘s research projects include a BSF funded grant on intergenerational transmission of environmental motives and behaviors in a cross country comparison (US, Israel and Korea), a NIH funded research that investigates if and how autistic youth benefit by volunteering, social innovations in nonprofits, volunteering in sports organizations, if and how recent immigrants benefit by volunteering, and health wellbeing benefits of volunteering as well as examining  what happens to those who must retire out of volunteering

Before coming to Penn, Professor Handy was Associate Professor at Faculty of Environmental Studies, at York University in Toronto, Canada.


Handy, F. & Russell, A*. (2018) Ethical–decision making for social impact. London, U.K.:  Palgrave Macmillan

This book outlines the various elements involved in ethical decision-making for nonprofit leaders, and whose rights to prioritize when facing complex situations. Nonprofit board members and employees are often placed in difficult situations, with no single stakeholder and an allegiance to mission statements whose outcomes can be difficult to measure. While nonprofit charitable organizations are generally considered more trustworthy than their counterparts in the public or for-profit sector, when scandals and wrongdoings are uncovered, they must be dealt with in ethical ways. Through a case study approach, this book delivers clear ethical decision-making frameworks and promotes robust reflection on how to arrive at different decision points and throw light on elements that are often ignored or assumed. Ultimately, it offers students, researchers, and managers a practical approach to the ambiguous question, what is the ethical way?

Kassam, M., Handy, F., & Janson, E*. (2016). Philanthropy in India: Practice and Promise. New Delhi: Sage

Philanthropy has a very long tradition in India. All practicing religions embody the idea of philanthropy and the concept of daanworks across religions and cultures. This book provides unique sociological and empirical perspectives, contrasting what is happening in India vis-á-vis other countries. It documents various government policies that have influenced philanthropy and identifies successful strategies practiced by the general population as well as organizations.
Through case studies, narratives and interviews of philanthropists, the book examines various modes of giving—formal and informal, religious and secular, charitable trusts and foundations, NGOs and corporates, diaspora as well as social media platforms—that shape the practice and promise of philanthropy in India today.

Wiepking, P. & Handy, F., (Eds.) (2016) The Palgrave Handbook on Global Philanthropy. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan

2016 Virginia A. Hodgkinson Research Book Prize

is a comprehensive reference guide to the practice of philanthropy across twenty-six nations and regions. In addition, thematic chapters examine cross-national issues to provide an indispensable guide to the latest research in this field. Drawing on theoretical insights from sociology, economics, political science, and psychology, and including a stellar international line-up of leading philanthropy scholars, this reference work describes the non-profit sector and analyzes philanthropic endeavors country by country, providing a global overview that covers Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and the Americas. In addition, it examine cross-national issues, including the social origins of the non-profit sector and charitable giving; the influence of government support; the role of religion; fiscal incentives; and fundraising to outline how major country-specific differences in governmental, economic, and legal policies for philanthropic actors and nonprofit organizations shape philanthropic giving, demonstrating how country-specific factors may facilitate or inhibit charitable giving.

Handy, F., Kassam, M., Ingold, J*. & Ranade, B. (2011). From Seva to cyberspace: The changing face of volunteering in India. New Delhi: Sage

From Seva to Cyberspace examines the phenomenon of volunteering in India from its earliest instances to present-day manifestations. Tracing the origins of voluntary action in India, the authors examine the historic, religious, and cultural traditions of Seva (direct service to others) that have played an important role in inspiring Indians toward voluntary action.

The book defines the volunteer and discusses the methods of measuring the value of volunteer labor to NGOs. It includes a detailed discussion of the particular contributions of the oldest and youngest volunteers in India. The distinctive motivations and contributions of those with a religious inspiration for voluntary action are explored at length, as are the important issues of service clubs and corporate support for volunteer activities. It is enriched with narratives and case studies of individuals and organizations that throw light on specific aspects of volunteerism in the Indian context.

Handy, F., & Carpenter, C. (2010). Sandy’s incredible shrinking footprint. Toronto, ON: Second Story Press

Also, published in French (2012): L’incroyable empreinte de Sabline Bayard Presse, Canada; Dutch: De geheimzinnge voetafdruk Vries-Brouwers, Uitgeverij C, Nederlands (2012) and Korean (2011) Hanulim Press, Seoul, South Korea

A young girl learns that her footprint is more than the mark she leaves in the sand in this eco-conscious picture book for budding young environmentalists. Sandy loves visiting her grandpa’s house by the beach every summer. She plays in the sand while her dog, Pepper, chases the seagulls. But this day her walk on the beach is ruined by a pile of garbage. Why would someone dirty her beautiful beach? The arrival of the “Garbage Lady” inspires her, as she explains to Sandy that everyone has an ecological footprint – the mark they leave on the world – and that it is their responsibility to shrink it.

Handy, F., Kassam, M., Feeney, S., & Ranade, B. (2006). Grass-roots NGOs by women for women: The driving force of development in India. New Delhi: Sage.

Adopting an inter-disciplinary approach, this book provides an in-depth understanding of why Indian NGOs run by women for women, tend to be successful. Based on first-hand observations spanning five years and interviews with 20 founders of NGOs, this book explores the factors that motivate and facilitate women entrepreneurship in the development sector. It examines the organizational structures that have evolved based on feminist ideology and the services provided (e.g. self-help groups and micro-finance). The authors also discuss the social impact of these NGOs in promoting both development and women’s empowerment. They show how small NGOs are particularly effective in garnering support from the grass-roots and in tapping the knowledge base of local communities. Overall, the authors find that women entrepreneurs act as facilitators with a unique leadership style and that they encourage community-based movements grounded in local issues. As a result, these NGOs are successfully changing the landscape of rural poverty in India while ushering in sustainable development.

Ruiz*, A.S, Wang, L. & Handy, F. (In Press). Integration and volunteering: The case of first-generation immigrants to Canada Voluntary Sector Review

Turpin, A*., Shier, M. L., & Handy, F. (In Press). Factors shaping public perceptions of market-based activities by Charities in Canada. Nonprofit Policy Forum.

Greenspan, I., Katz-Gerro, T., Handy, F., & Park, S*. (In Press). Intergenerational transmission of environmental household practices among South Korean families: Continuity and Change. Families, Relationships and Societies.

Farwell, M*. & Handy, F. (In Press). Putting the ‘community’ in community-based funding for human services: Recruitment, motivation, and role negotiation of granting committees. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration.

Cicchelli, V., Octobre S., Riegel, V., Katz-Gerro, T. & Handy, F. (In Press).  A Tale of Three Cities: Aesthetico-cultural cosmopolitanism as a new capital among youth in Paris, São Paulo and Seoul. Journal of Consumer Culture.

Wiepking, P., Handy, F. et al. (2021) Global Philanthropy: Does Institutional Context Matter for Charitable Giving? Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 35(2), 533–540.

Handy, F., Katz-Gerro, T Greenspan, I. & Verad, Y*. (2021). Intergenerational disenchantment? Motivations for environmental behaviors across generations in South Korea. GEOFORUM 121 May, 53–64.

Konrath, S. & Handy F. (2021). The Good-looking Giver Effect: The Relationship Between Doing Good and Looking Good. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 50(2), 283–311.

Featured as Doing good may make people look better

Russell, A*., Kim, E., Gellis, Z., & Handy, F. (2020). Formal vs. Informal Volunteering and Well-Being: Does Volunteering Type Matter for Older Adults? Voluntary Sector Review, 11(3), 317-336.

Katz-Gerro, T.; Greenspan, I. & Handy, F., & Verad, Y (2020).  Environmental behavior in three countries: The role of intergenerational transmission and domains of socialization. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 71, 101-343.

Meijs, L. C., & Handy, F., Roza, L. & Simons F-J*. (2020).  A Social Innovation: Addressing relative food insecurity and social exclusion. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 31(5), 894-906.

Farwell, M.*, Gaughan, M*. Handy, F. (2020). How Did We Get Here? The Career Paths of Higher Education Fundraisers. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 30(3), 487-507.

Shier, M. & Handy, F. (2020).  Leadership in nonprofits: Social Innovations and blurring boundaries. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 31(2), 333-344.

Zanbar, L*., Greenspan, I., Itzhaky, H. & Handy, F. (2019). Awareness of and trust in welfare organizations from different sectors among social work students: The role of educational factors. Bitahon Sotziali (Social Security), 108, 131-160 (in Hebrew).

Shier, M. & Handy, F., Jennings, C*. (2019). Intra-organizational conditions supporting social innovation in human service nonprofits. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 48(1), 173–193.

Russell, A*., Storti, M. H., & Handy, F. (2019). Managing volunteer retirement among older adults: Perspectives of volunteer administrators. Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs, 5(1), 95-109.

Shier, M. & Handy, F., Jennings, C*. (2019). Intra-organizational conditions supporting social innovation in human service nonprofits. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 48(1), 173–193.

Russell, A*., Nyame-Mensah, A*., De Wit., A*., & Handy, F. (2019) Volunteering and Wellbeing Among Ageing Adults: A Longitudinal Analysis Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 30(1): 115-128.

Garcia, C., Rabadi, R. & Handy, F. (2018).  Dynamic Resource Allocation and Coordination for High-Load Crisis Volunteer Management. Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management 8(4),533-55.

Greenspan, I., Walk, M., & Handy, F. (2018). Immigrant Integration Through Volunteering: The importance of contextual factors Journal of Social Policy 47(4), 803-825.

Zibenberg, A*., Greenspan, I., Katz-Gerro, T., & Handy, F. (2018). Environmental behavior among Russian youth: The role of self-direction and environmental concern. Environmental Management. 62(2), 295–304.

Walk, M., & Handy, F. (2018). Job Crafting as Reaction to Organizational Change. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. 54(3), 349-370.

De Wit, A*., Neumayr, M., Handy, F., & Wiepking, P. (2018). Do government expenditures shift private philanthropic donations to particular fields of welfare? Evidence from cross-country data. European Sociological Review, 34(1), 6-21.

Konrath, S., & Handy, F. (2018). The Development and Validation of the Motives to Donate Scale. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47(2), 347-375.

McDougle, L., Meyer, S*., & Handy, F. (2018). Individual- and Contextual-Level Factors Affecting the Use of Social Support Services among Older Adults. Journal of Social Service Research, 44(1), 108-118.

Katz-Gerro, T., Greenspan, I., Handy, F., & Lee, H.Y. (2017). The Relationship between Value Types and Environmental Behaviour in Four Countries: Universalism, Benevolence, Conformity and Biospheric Values Revisited. Environmental Values, 26(2), 223-249.

Wang, L., Mook, L., & Handy, F. (2017). An Empirical Analysis of Formal and Informal Volunteering in Canada. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 28(1), 139-161.

Shier, M*. L., & Handy, F. (2016). Executive leadership and social innovation in direct service nonprofits: Shaping the organizational culture to create social change. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 27(2), 111-130.

Shier, M.L*., & Handy, F. (2016). Cross-sector partnerships: Factors supporting social innovation by nonprofits. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership, & Governance 40(3), 253-266.

Walk, M*., Greenspan, I., Crossley, H., & Handy, F. (2016). Social Return on Investment analysis: A case study of a job and skills training program offered by a social enterprise. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 26(2),129-144.

McDougle, L*., Konrath, S., Walk, M*., & Handy, F. (2016). Religious and Secular Coping Strategies and Mortality Risk among Older Adults. Social Indicators Research, 125(2), 677-694.

Chum, A*.,Carpenter, S *., Farrell, E*., Mook, L., Handy, F., et al. (2015). Does geographic context influence employability-motivated volunteering? The role of area level material insecurity and urbanicity. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe Canadien, 59(3), 354-368.

Shier, M. L*., & Handy, F. (2015). From Advocacy to Social Innovation: A Typology of Social Change Efforts by Nonprofits. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 26(6), 2581-2603.

Katz-Gerro, T., Greenspan, I, Handy, F., Lee, H.Y., & Frey, A. (2015). Environmental Philanthropy and Environmental Behavior in Five Countries: Is there Convergence among youth? Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 26(4), 1485-1509.

McDougle, L*., Handy, F., Katz-Gerro, T., Greenspan, I., & Lee, H.Y. (2015). Factors predicting proclivity and intensity to volunteer for the environment in the US and South Korea. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 58(5), 837-854.

Walk, M*., Greenspan, I., Crossley, H., & Handy, F. (2015). Mind the Gap: Expectations Versus Experiences of Clients Utilizing Job-Training Services in A Social Enterprise. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 86(2), 221-244.

Shier, M*., & Handy, F. (2015). Social Change Efforts of Direct Service Nonprofits: The Role of Funding and Collaborations in Shaping Social Innovations. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 39(1), 6-24.

Wang, L., & Handy, F. (2014). Religious and Secular Voluntary Participation by Immigrants in Canada: How Trust and Social Networks Affect Decision to Participate. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 25(6), 1559-1582.

Shier, M. L*., & Handy, F. (2014). Research Trends in Nonprofit Graduate Studies: A Growing Interdisciplinary Field. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(5), 812-831.

Walk, M*., Schinnenburg, H., & Handy, F. (2014). Missing in Action: Strategic Human Resource Management in German Nonprofits. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary & Nonprofit Organizations, 25(4), 991-1021.

McDougle, L*., & Handy, F. (2014). Understanding the impact of information costs on information gathering strategies used prior to donating. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 24(4), 465-485.

Mook, L., Farrell, E*., Chum, A*., Handy, F., Schugurensky, D., & Quarter, J. (2014). Individual and organizational factors in the interchangeability of paid staff and volunteers: Perspectives of volunteers. Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, 5(2), 65-85.

McDougle, L*., Handy, F., Konrath, S., & Walk, M*. (2014). Health Outcomes and Volunteering: The Moderating Role of Religiosity. Social Indicators Research, 117(2), 337-351.

Shier, M. L*., McDougle, L*., & Handy, F. (2014). Nonprofits and the promotion of civic engagement: A conceptual framework for understanding the ‘civic footprint’ of nonprofits within local communities. Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, 5(1), 57-75.

Cnaan, R.A., Bhat, G., Meijs, L.C., & Handy, F. (2014). ‘You reap what you pick’: longstanding community economic development among jasmine growers of coastal Karnataka. Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, 8(2), 86-102.

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