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Methodology

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METHODOLOGY
A. RESEARCH APPROACH

This research consists of a survey, considered a quantitative strategy an approach that “that provides a quantitative or numeric descript of trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by studying a sample of the population” (Creswell, 2009, p. 12). This study will involve a questionnaire, used like a structured interview for collecting data to assist with answering the three research questions; and intended to generalize a sample population of five NGOs (Babbie, 1990 cited in Creswell, 2009, p. 12).
B. CHARACTERISTICS OF RESEARCH APPROACH

The characteristics of case study research embody the following (derived from Creswell, 2009, p. 175-176): multiple sources of data; theoretical lens; and participant meaning.. First, multiple sources of data may include: observation, case studies related to humanitarian organizations, documentation from humanitarian organization’s source to donors, and other mass media and social media available. Additionally, the study will use framing theory as its guiding approach and how it relates to soft power theory, to understand how humanitarian organizations develop their messages. Finally, the participant meaning by reviewing the responses NGOs have toward the research questions to view “the meaning that the participants hold about the problem or issue, not the meaning that the reaserchers bring to the research or writers express in the literature”(Creswell, 2009, p. 176).
C. RESEARCH STRATEGY AThis research offers an appropriate strategy for three primary reasons. First, it develops the landscape of understanding for theoretical frames related to soft power of NGOs. Secondly, , the collected survey data is representative of NGOs understanding of their use of messages that they use with their donors and potential donors, and their understanding of their soft power. Thirdly, researching NGOs and humanitarianism brings an understanding of the frames, soft power, and messages used by NGOs providing relief within Darfur. Finally, taking the three elements as a whole and in parts related to the research questions allows for explication. ;. The strategy of this research aims to survey five NGOs with a questionnaire specifically generated to answer each of the three research questions to narrow the focus on how NGOs frame their messages with their donors and potential donors Also, how those frames relate to the definition of soft power, giving NGOs their appeal and attractiveness to their donor audience. Do the frames fall into the theoretical framework of soft power, or do they fall outside of that framework? The materials and products of examination include: NGO consent for a survey, public relations materials, broadcasting transcripts, brochures, interviews, letters and specific media communicated specifically to donors, mission statements, funding campaigns, websites, annual reports and social media specific to donors and to the general public.
D. THE RESEARCHER’S ROLE

My experience encompasses 13 years of U.S. federal military service in the U.S. Army in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, multi-national exercises in Europe and Northern Africa, and humanitarian relief to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana. I have worked in the above stated venues with various humanitarian organizations, both non-governmental and governmental humanitarian organizations. I have through experience and personal contact with humanitarian organizations during military missions and operations believe that humanitarian organizations continuously retain soft power and are able to use framing messages as the vehicle to gain and maintain soft power. The connection between my research and the humanitarian organizations studied will be one of mutual cooperation for information, and objective in approaches for obtaining information. I intend to use public affairs or public relations officials of humanitarian organizations as the source of information and messages. Additionally, I intend to contact and explain the research to these representatives to gain relevant information into the research questions and to gain further insight into the responses, or gain missing and needed information. I am aware that training in the Institutional Review Board (IRB) may not be necessary; however, I have completed training to allow for flexibility in research. Additionally, IRB training allows for a flexible case study that may entail interviews, if I believe that doing so will shed more light upon the research question. The following will highlight the steps to be taken in order to secure permission with the humanitarian organizations. Initial research with the humanitarian organizations begins by obtaining a point of contact and general information about the public affairs and public relations personnel for contact. An initial e-mail with the research purpose, scope, questions, and my personal information will be disclosed so as to gain permission and support and consent to the research. There is no physical site proposed; however, if available phone conversations and a possible phone interview for information are forecasted as follow-up for information and confirmation of exchanged information. Additionally, questions will be asked of NGOs as to whether all materials were collected that perhaps were missed from the available on-line sources. The study is not intended to be intrusive to the humanitarian organizations. The results of the research will be e-mailed to the humanitarian organizations studied. The gatekeepers of the humanitarian organizations will gain insight into their messages, meanings, frames, and soft power frames and messages. It is expected that some sensitive materials or subjects may be discussed and that some information may need to protect the source or sources of information. If a humanitarian organization wants to know if the research will disclose their donors by name or by their contribution, this research will not disclose that information, unless written permission is granted; and it is also deemed appropriate for the study. In the case where a humanitarian organization prefers not to be part of the case study, I will not include them; however, I will state that they were considered, but removed from study based upon the organizations request. No confidential information will be published or used, unless permission is granted.
E. DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURES

The consenting survey participants consist of the public affairs officers or public relations representatives of the humanitarian organizations studied. The research setting is an academic setting; whereas, those queried for information may participate at their organization headquarters or place of non-profit business. The events survey consist of humanitarian organizations’ message frames to their donors and potential donors, for support to humanitarian relief and services in Darfur. The data will be compared and contrasted to discover if the frames fall within the theoretical definitions of soft power. The process of gaining relevant materials relies upon documentation from open sources (i.e. internet, library books, journals, and documents) and from volunteered information specific to messages from humanitarian organizations to potential donors through the survey instrument. . Interviews by telephone and, if possible, face-to-face allow for clarification upon the subjects and data explored and help establish meaning from the messages used; and informs decisions about relevant data from the survey related to the three research questions. Documents, both public and private enable me to examine messages for language, narratives, and images combining into a frame. I am able to unobtrusively gain materials from outside sources, such as websites, that do not conflict with the humanitarian organizations operations. I assume that audio and visual materials, as mediums of messages, will also assists with understanding the connection between frames and soft power. I will use a journal during research for reflective thoughts and for specific information establishing the veracity of facts about any possible interviews or sources. The type of information collection involves the following from the existing humanitarian organizations providing humanitarian services in Darfur: a. Humanitarian organization mission statement b. Activity or type of humanitarian relief in Darfur c. “About Us” information (content from internet) d. Supporters or donors (content material from internet) e. Letters, e-mail, general or special correspondence to donors from humanitarian organizations f. Support materials to the humanitarian support mission in Darfur-general g. Support materials to the humanitarian support mission in Darfur-specific to donors h. General information or fact sheets: number of years in Darfur, number of years as a humanitarian organization, website, channels of media representation, spokesperson, etc. i. Fundraising campaigns and efforts directly and indirectly with donors (i.e. benefits, raffles, dinners, staged events, etc.) In essence, I will search the internet, library, and other sources for information on NGOs providing relief in Darfur and also requests information from the humanitarian organizations about the messages they use with donors through the survey instrument. The data consists of open sources and humanitarian organization provided source materials.
F. ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION Conducting a survey involves detailing the survey questions to specifically answer the research questions. Understanding the humanitarian activity within Darfur and humanitarian organization’s relationship to their donors requires narrowing the field of information to specifics:. RQ 1: How do humanitarian organizations in Darfur frame their messages to their intended audience, donors and potential donors? RQ 2: How do humanitarian organizations in Darfur perceive their own efforts to frame messages? RQ3: Do these framing strategies result in strengthening soft power on the part of humanitarian organizations?
Furthermore, analyzing the specific themes, within the messages presented to donors from NGOs for frames referent to soft power and those that do not fall within the theoretical definition enable analysis in context. The survey participants answer the research questions and help me to establish the context and framing objectives of the NGOs to their target audiences.

STEP ONE: ORGANIZE AND PREPARE The following data analysis steps are based upon Creswell (2009), p.184- 190.

Screening Criteria for Research To limit the number of credible NGOs for this research, screening criteria was established to indicate factors defining credibility. The first criterion was to generate a list of competent NGOs. The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Fact Sheet #7 for Fiscal Year 2011 was used as a listing of implementing partners (NGOs) that provide relief to Darfur, Sudan. The list contains 30 separate organizations supported by the U.S. government. This list was used because it is assumed that the list contained credible NGOs who were vetted and whose proven past efforts have merited them potential to provide specific relief services. To further refine the study, United Nations (U.N.) programs were eliminated from the USAID FY 2011 list, so as to review private non-governmental organizations outside of the United Nations. Next a refined list of NGOs was used and screened according to the most dollars allocated to each NGO; assuming that more dollars allocated from USAID means the more credible the NGO to handle fiscal and relief responsibility. Next, each of the NGOs were screened for highest donations from donors from 2010; which assumes that higher public donations the more the public values the credible of an NGO to handle fiscal and relief responsibility. Further screening, was used to show the highest number of years operating in Sudan and the highest number of years operating as a public NGO. These criteria are used to show credibility through longevity; where the longer the organization served in Sudan and the longer the organization has existed as being significant to credibility. Lastly, administrative and funding expenses (AFR%) as a percentage of total revenue as calculated by the annual IRS filing form 990 by the charity was used to show that those organizations that maximized their donor monies by limiting their administrative activity were efficient and responsible stewards of funds. Each of the criteria measured the top five, then added the number of occurrences that each NGO had in each of the screening criteria. Those NGOs with the highest number screened in, were retained. The five NGOs are researched are the following based upon these screening criteria: Catholic Relief Services (CRS) because of the highest number screened in (five occurrences), the CARE and World Vision with four occurrences. ACTED, HelpAge, IMC, and UMCOR tied with two occurrences. To resolve only a top five of NGOs for research, precedence was defined to the NGO for the highest number of years operating within Sudan and highest number of years operating as a public relief entity; which lends to UMCOR and HelpAge, respectively. ACTED and IMC shall not be considered for this study. Therefore, the five NGOs considered for answering the research questions are the following:
1. Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
2. Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc (CARE)
3. World Vision (WVis)
4. United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
5. HelpAge International (HelpAge)

STEP TWO: SENSING MATERIALS

Secondly, read through all the material for a general sense of the materials collected and annotate reflections posted inside the researcher’s journal. Put a copy of the journal with the folder on the specific NGO, and label. Some questions to be answered and written about in the journal are the following (Creswell, 2009, 185-186): a. What general ideas are the materials suggesting? b. What are the tones of the ideas? c. What impression does the depth, credibility, and the use of the information offer? d. Does this material seem relevant to the research question? Why?

STEP THREE: CODING PROCESS Code material according to the specific humanitarian organization’s activity. For instance, categorize the humanitarian organizations according to their activity within Darfur: relocation assistance; food assistance; medical assistance; job assistance; etc. From these categories, sort the messages from the humanitarian organization to the donor, and sort messages from the humanitarian organization to the general population. Recognize that emerging codes may present during steps two and three and coding remains flexible to accommodate and code according to the new or discovered codes.
STEP FOUR: CODING TO DESCRIBE Fourthly, analyze the survey instrument to answer the three research questions. The research questions can be compared using coding to describe the setting and themes through the theoretical definition of framing and soft power definitions. The following assist in qualitatively evaluating the tendencies and sense of the information gathered from the survey instrument to determine framing and soft power themes:
Code messages as they compare to the theory of framing in the following ways:
a) specific message frames or familiar frame (McQuail, 2010, p. 557) or “particular conceptualization of an issue” (Chong & Druckman, 2007, p. 104)
b) “problem definition, causal analysis, moral judgment, remedy promotion” (Entman, 2007, p.164)
c) story framing (Waters, 2004, p. 699)
d) hidden frames (Kitzinger, 2007)
Code messages as they compare to soft power theory: a) positive attraction (Nye, 2011, p.92) b) “three clusters of qualities of agent and action that are central to attraction…: benignity, competence, and beauty” (Vuving, cited in Nye, 2011) c) exhibit the qualities of soft power and the target believes them to exist within the agent. (Nye, 2011, p.92) d) “to influence the beliefs and actions of others without the threat of force or promise of payment”(Nye, 2011, p.93). e) “attraction, trust, and persuasion are closely related”(Nye, 2011, p.93). f) legitimacy (Nye, 2010, p.93) g) “quiet diplomacy” Ozkan & Akgun (2010) h) “coherent agenda uniting humanitarian and political actions.” (Thieren, 2007, p. 220). i) moralistic or ethical component of persuasion (derived from Thieren, 2007) General themes related to the type of soft power persuasion emerge, at the same time; a description of the type of frame appears. Themes and description integrate and combine to assist with a general description of the NGO soft power message frames that allow me to conceptualize and describe the representation of frames.
STEP FIVE: ADVANCE THEMES REPRESENTED Fifth, engage with a narrative to further the explanation of the analysis. Use schematics, words, and images to convey a total picture that assists with understanding and expansion on the research questions.
STEP SIX: INTERPRETATION OF DATA Lastly, convey the lessons learned from the analysis survey and researched information. Compare framing theory with soft power frames relating to their interconnectedness and from positions where divergent ideas, themes, and descriptions occurred; try to assimilate the understanding of those comparisons. Additionally, offer more questions that were not considered and generate ideas for future research to expand upon NGO soft power framing.
G. RELIABILITY, VALIDITY, AND GENERALIZABILITY (based upon Creswell, 2009, p. 190-193) Qualitative reliability depends upon documentation during the research and procedures used. Transcripts and documentation are validated for errors and mistakes that may be present. Validity accounts for checking the accounts submitted or gained from the surveyed humanitarian organizations against other credible information that is independent information from other sources. Check with the humanitarian organizations about the representations offered by asking questions to clarify meaning when it may be determined that meaning and descriptions are unclear. Identify my biases. Identify those NGOs who consented in participation . Offer explanations as to how generalizations, inferences, and understanding were reached. Put forward my background, gender, culture, history, career, and other demographics to ensure disclosure and openness about any biases that may or may not be expressly informed. Discuss any accounts or instances when the results or research diverged or other alternate perspectives running counter to the research may appear. Confer the various controversies in technique and theory about framing and those suggested about soft power to add to the discussion and help establish a holistic approach. Review findings and analysis with those credible in mass media research, outside researchers in other disciplines, and humanitarian organizations and their practitioners. Use generalizability to indicate meaning only to concepts in their proper context. The survey about NGOs’ message frames with donors about Darfur narrows conceptualizations related to framing theory and soft power frames. To account for these particulars, I will use the comparison of other case studies as a baseline indicator for generalizability, so to maintain consistency of context.
H. REPORTING FINDINGS The report uses a narrative and descriptive format with concept sketches and pictures to create a holistic approach and confer the survey results, observations, and conclusions. The report will include future research recommendations and questions that might be asked of a researcher conducting a sililiar type of research. The findings shall be furnished to the participating humanitarian organizations, and the University of Missouri for review and approval.

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