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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Research and recommendations for effective, day-to-day nonprofit practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

giving trends

Giving trends across the United States have evolved rapidly over the past two to three years. Global events from Covid-19 responses to the effects of the Great Resignation have upended traditional fundraising strategies employed by nonprofits. The emergence of these drivers of change along with major shifts in donor demographics presents a unique challenge that many nonprofits are not fully prepared for. We live in an increasingly diverse world, the current direct marketing model utilized by most nonprofits is not only antiquated, but ineffective at reaching the diverse donor landscape of the 21st century.

To be successful in the future, nonprofits will need to craft communication strategies that account for an increasingly diverse donor landscape. Each group of donors, whether separated by ethnic group or generation, has unique challenges and opportunities that must be considered as well as preferred methods of communication. Continuing to employ the same strategies that were effective on older generations, will gradually become less effective at attracting and retaining donors.

So, what can organizations do to embrace the changing demographics of the donor landscape? There are a number of recommendations that organization can employ that will help ensure long term success in their donor retention strategy.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

trophy that is an hour glass surrounded by laurel wreath

The nonprofit sector includes staff from across the generations, including those representing younger demographics. Emerging leaders are among these young staff. They are not just young in age but new in their careers. It is important to think of something other than the definition of young in chronological terms but also in terms of career length and time spent in leadership roles.

Young leaders who can contribute to a nonprofit’s success are working not just with a focus on pay. Unlike counterparts who may be pursuing careers in the for-profit sector, evidence shows that nonprofit employees work so they can create a positive social impact. Retaining young staff members who have found themselves at nonprofit organizations is essential. 

To achieve success, nonprofits should leverage multiple solutions and tactics to drive their mission and create internal systems that are efficient and impactful. Development and retention are key elements to fostering an environment where nonprofit staffs feel valued, embraced, and supported. Below are some practical ways to begin:

Engagement and culture

Try developing a culture committee. Ask yourself if your…

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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

people collaborating at white board

Nonprofits are the lifeblood of a community, stepping in where government agencies fall short. They provide critical services to the elderly and those in need, ensure arts and culture are alive, fund hospitals and cures for diseases, and support educational institutions and provide scholarships for students.

In order for these vital community organizations to thrive, they must be staffed well. Yes, the role of nonprofit volunteers contributes to an organization's strength and success, but the staff provide the backbone of these vital community resources. Among the staff, the leaders are mission critical staff members. Strong leaders motivate volunteers and inspire donors, while lack of leadership can be devastating to an organization.

Too often nonprofit staff are underpaid and overworked. Longevity in the sector is crumbling. The pandemic put additional strain on organizations already struggling to retain their staff and drive their mission. Some have left for higher-paying for-profit positions. Some have retired. Some are simply burnt out…

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

AAPI Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander philanthropy has a long history spanning back to a multitude of cultures. From the Filipino tradition of pasalubong to the Chamorro tradition of chenchule’, giving in AAPI cultures goes back for generations. The culture of giving that originates in these cultures informs the philanthropy and generosity that Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities demonstrate throughout their entire lives. Whether it be between people or between organizations, the origins of giving and philanthropy in AAPI cultures must be acknowledged and celebrated today. 

This AAPI Heritage Month, the ASU Lodestar Center will be exploring a few of these cultural roots in connection to modern-day philanthropy.

Chinese Americans

Giving starts early in the life of Chinese Americans. Around 1 month into the life of a newborn, the Red Egg and Ginger Party is held to officially welcome the new family member. At the event, the baby of honor is presented with many gifts: a new set of clothes, gold…

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Wednesday, April 26, 2023

arms of multiple people holding each other in a knot

The intersection between diversity, equity, and inclusion (D.E.I.) exists to ensure nonprofit organizations value different perspectives and backgrounds, provide every employee with equitable access to opportunity and learning, and create spaces where all voices are heard. An organization must prioritize all three issues, otherwise, they risk completely missing the mark. Enacting intentional D.E.I. strategies in the nonprofit workplace is essential to maintaining the organization's mission, cultivating high performance from staff, and creating sustainable funding and programming.

Other benefits of intentional D.E.I. work include:

  • Expanding the organization's reach.
  • Fostering a healthier work culture.
  • Mirroring the community it serves.

Organizations that deliberately implement D.E.I. policies attract more creative and innovative employees who combine their unique knowledge, skills, and experiences to create a welcoming work environment and improve the organization's impact. Failure to prioritize diversity in the workplace may lead to segregated groups, communication strains, and…

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ASU Lodestar Center Blog