ASU Lodestar Center Blog

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Blog post

Illustration by Yuxin Qin

Anna Carlson

posted by
Anna Carlson
Fall 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Public policy and the nonprofit sector

Public policy at all levels of government has the ability to threaten the work of all nonprofits (National Council of Nonprofits, 2019). At the federal level, we see this threat in tax, regulatory, and spending policies. Notably, about 32% of nonprofit funding comes from government contracts and grants. The effects of federal policy often trickle down to the state and local levels. This creates implications for an organization’s beneficiaries in regards to available resources and funding for programming.

Despite the importance of public policy to the nonprofit sector, there is a severe lack of engagement among nonprofits. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, “compared to the business and government sectors, nonprofits have been sitting silently on the sidelines.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Kristi Kerner

posted by
Kristi Kerner
Spring 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

It is no secret that nonprofit organizations often have a hard time retaining employees. The work can be difficult, staff is underpaid, and burnout levels are high. These issues often lead to a decline in employee work performance and may even cause staff to seek additional opportunities for employment. Many valuable resources of the organizations are then spent on recovering from turnover including recruiting, hiring, and training new talent.

It is important for the leadership of nonprofit organizations to invest in programs aimed at improving employee satisfaction. These programs need to be comprehensive and highlight different aspects that typically contribute to employee burnout or dissatisfaction. It is vital to understand what is contributing to employees feeling dissatisfied and aim to amend these issues. Five major considerations that should be included in employee-focused programs are discussed below.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Krisa Duff

posted by
Krisa Duff
Spring 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Nonprofit leaders in 2020 are faced with the difficult challenge of recruiting and retaining employees for long periods of time. They are learning the ways different generations adapt and grow in the workplace and how to build an environment that helps the organization succeed. Leadership styles such as coaching, delegating, and directing, impact the leader and employee office relationships. It is important that the leadership teams understand their employees’ communication styles to further guide them in their positions. Leaders that empower their team to take on initiatives and pursue skill growth will develop a productive staff.

Research shows that there is high turnover as employees experience burnout from a lack of work-life balance, fair compensation and career growth opportunities. These leadership teams need to focus on the overall experience of mentoring their employees in the first year, as that is a critical time that impacts the employee’s overall commitment to the organization. Many nonprofit organization employees work in direct service fields, meaning they are hands-on and emotionally connected to the vulnerable population their organization serves in the community. They often have to be readily available and dedicate many hours toward fulfilling the mission, which can be emotionally exhausting.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Alexandra Oropeza

posted by
Alexandra Oropeza
Spring 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

According to 2019 research by Meredith Kavanagh, nonprofit leaders believe that some of the top investment priorities for their organizations that year were more advanced technology (e.g. CRM system, online fundraising platform, etc.) and a stronger focus on online fundraising. However, according to Yale Insights, when it comes to nonprofits, only 11% view their organizations’ approaches to digital as highly effective.

According to Mark Hrywna, mobility is among the top drivers and benefits of the cloud. Mobility is huge, enabling a mobile workforce with nonprofits having people in the field, and collecting data and interacting with the data and apps anywhere. That is going to be one of the greatest benefits to nonprofits that they do not yet realize: the ability to mobilize using the cloud.

Clearly there is a gap between what nonprofit organizations identify as priorities and how they rate their effectiveness with technology. Technology can be used for a variety of tasks across organizations to help them increase their impact in the sector and the communities that they serve. The Chronicle of Philanthropy states, “The nonprofit sector has not yet figured out how to navigate these thousands of new tools. But it should, because they’re incredibly powerful. They can nudge up your ability to get stuff done. Someone can make a 10 or 20 percent improvement in productivity, and when you start to add those numbers up, they really matter.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Sara Ebert

posted by
Sara Ebert
Spring 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

For decades, the perception of executive pay at nonprofit organizations has been the image of a grossly underpaid executive director OR a scandalously overpaid CEO. But as the social sector matures, becomes more professional and finds meaningful ways to measure success, executive compensation is developing a new image. With the influence of engaged boards and thoughtful hiring and retention practices, nonprofits are poised to offer more competitive and attractive compensation packages than ever before.

Historically, executives at America’s nonprofits have felt pressure to take a nonprofit discount in pay in exchange for the psychic benefit of charity work. But is virtue truly its own reward? Does it compensate for lower compensation? As the line between sectors blurs, nonprofits compete more and more in the marketplace for top talent. Unlike the for-profit sector with their bottom-line focus on profits, nonprofits have a double bottom line that requires them to view all decisions (including hiring and executive compensation) against both a financial bottom line and a socially responsible bottom line. Limited resources, social pressures, and board biases may contribute to lower compensation. Even the IRS plays a role in determining what nonprofits can pay their executives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

 

Illustration by Jocelyn Ruiz

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Illustration by Jocelyn Ruiz

Friday, October 16, 2020

 

Illustration by Jocelyn Ruiz

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