Heather O'Connor

Heather O'Connor
Research Scholar
Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management
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Heather O’Connor, Ph.D., CFRM, CAP®, conducts applied research on philanthropy, fundraising, and nonprofit management. Her work explores how social contexts influence philanthropic behavior and decision-making. Currently, she is working on projects involving fundraising communication strategies, the role of social identity in philanthropic giving, and the professions of fundraising and philanthropic advising.

Heather’s work has been published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ), the International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Sector Marketing, and the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership (JNEL). In addition, she has authored chapters in two textbooks, Teaching Nonprofit Management (2020) and Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (2022), as well as chapters in two editions of Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy. Her co-authored research has been featured in Forbes and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

She is a former nonprofit executive with 20 years of experience in healthcare, education, and social service organizations.

Heather holds a Ph.D. in Philanthropic Studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, an M.S. in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, and a B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation in 2008 and her Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® designation in 2020. In addition, Heather holds graduate certificates in college teaching and fundraising management from Indiana University.

Heather is an American expat living in Croatia and Portugal with her husband and their adopted terrier, Mila.


philanthropy, fundraising, nonprofit management, NGO, charity, donor