Copyright & Privacy Notices
Website last updated:
NOTICE: After 53 years of nonprofit sector research and service,
the Human Interaction Research Institute closed on May 31, 2014.
Valley Nonprofit Resources has moved to California State
University Northridge, and a HIRI Legacy Page will soon appear on
the CSUN website, along with a VNR webpage. This site will
remain functional until November 1, 2014. If you have questions
please contact Dr. Thomas Backer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Human Interaction Research Institute (HIRI) helps nonprofits, funders and communities handle the challenges of innovation and change, using behavioral science strategies. Founded in 1961, the nonprofit Institute is based in Los Angeles. Its work ranges from research, to technical assistance on systems change, to disseminating innovations or helping others to do so. The emphasis in all these activities is on the complex human dynamics of change - how to get people personally committed to change and feel rewarded for their involvement, and how to address people's fears and resistances about change.
Current priority areas are: (1) nonprofit capacity building, (2) community collaborations and (3) philanthropy, along with longstanding interests in dissemination and health communication. HIRI's 160 projects range across the fields of health, human services and the arts. Examples include national evaluations of youth violence prevention programs, a national research study of strategies for partnerships in the arts, Capitol Hill hearings for Congressional staff on the needs of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system, and a national study of advisors to wealthy donors and their impact on donor philanthropic strategies.
Products from these projects are disseminated in both print and electronic formats. The Institute's work is supported by Federal and State agencies, foundations, and the corporate sector. For more information on the Institute's history, click on HIRI 30 Year Report and HIRI 40 Year Report.
Under the leadership of President Dr. Thomas Backer and a multi-disciplinary Board of Directors, the Institute's small staff works in a "virtual office" environment, supported by electronic communications. Core staff are based in Southern California, upstate New York, and Metro Washington, DC. Part-time senior staff include distinguished university-based researchers in youth violence prevention, mental health and related fields.
The Institute has a tradition of community service, ranging from individual efforts of staff (working with advocacy and support organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness), to coordinating volunteer groups such as the Entertainment Industry Workplace AIDS Task Force, to hosting (with California State University Northridge) both the first Los Angeles conference on AIDS in the workplace (April 1987) and an April 2003 event on nonprofit capacity building.
Projects concerning nonprofit capacity building include ongoing research, and maintaining the world's largest searchable database of foundation capacity-building programs. In Southern California and several other regions, the Institute studies and enhances community-wide infrastructure for capacity building. Projects addressing community collaborations include a recent book, Evaluating Community Collaborations (Springer, 2003), and national evaluation studies in the youth violence and mental health fields. Recent projects in philanthropy include studies of stakeholder interactions, individual donor perspectives on capacity building (reported in Stanford Social Innovation Review), collaboration and internal capacity-building strategies for small foundations, methods for promoting sustainability of foundation initiatives in communities, and peer networking and foundation place-based initiatives. Current projects include administration of a family foundation's capacity-building grantmaking initiative.
Thomas E. Backer, PhD
Thomas E. Backer, PhD, President
Thomas E. Backer, PhD, President (bio)
Edward M. Glaser, PhD, Founder, 1911-1993