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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, April 17, 2024

volunteer motivation

Volunteers are a vital component and resource for nonprofit organizations. They help the sector flourish and accomplish its work, with some organizations solely run by volunteers. The need for more volunteers is paramount when considering the sector and the recent increase in demand for services. This need has been amplified with a 23% decline in formal volunteering highlighted in a 2021 study.

Volunteer recruitment

Along with the issues listed previously, it is also essential to note that 46.8% of nonprofit leaders have cited volunteer recruitment challenges in a 2023 study. Volunteer recruitment typically includes identifying positions/roles, looking into how to recruit (i.e., messages and target audiences), and using an organization’s network to distribute the call for volunteers. Marketing is essential for recruiting because it should attract the correct target audience and address any objections to volunteering.

Volunteer motivations

Understanding volunteer motivations is critical in helping make the recruitment process successful. Motivations have been found to originate…

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

fundraising tech

Fundraising will always remain a critical component for nonprofits, to secure financial resources that are essential for their sustainability and growth. Traditional methods of fundraising have been the backbone of nonprofit revenue, however, in this digital age, the use of technology can help nonprofits streamline their fundraising efforts, reach wider audiences, and maximize their impact.

Project management software

The use of technology should not only be limited to directly facilitating the fundraising process itself but can be used for planning and executing fundraising projects. In order to achieve fundraising goals, the planning and execution of fundraising campaigns must be as effective as possible. Tools like project management software can be used in the planning process to break down tasks and help teams coordinate and maintain accountability. 

Data Analytics

Data analytics and reporting software can help nonprofits gain insights into the behaviors and preferences of their donors.  Understanding these trends is usually a very important step to ensure that an organization designs fundraising campaigns that appeal to its target audience.

Donor management

Donor Management software is very useful for building donor relations and maximizing fundraising potential. It can help organizations centralize and analyze donor data by tracking donations and involvement with the organization,…

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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

faith volunteers

While 32% of volunteers in America work for religious organizations, faith-based organizations keep experiencing a high turnover of volunteers. Volunteers are crucial for the development and longevity of nonprofit organizations. Thus, organizations need to be strategic with their volunteering programs. Amidst the challenge of recruiting volunteers, faith-based organizations search for volunteers with unique characteristics, such as values, devotion, faith, and good reputation in the community. Although most volunteers at faith-based organizations are driven by their faith and beliefs, religion is not always enough to achieve long-term voluntary commitment, especially in the human services subsector. Effective management and engagement of volunteers will help faith-based organizations increase social impact on behalf of their communities. 

By complementing recognized recruitment and retention strategies with the conceptualization of faith in their volunteering programs, faith-based organizations can improve the engagement of volunteers. 

Define the faith elements that will be implemented in the faith-based services

Volunteers interested in working with faith-based organizations seek those that align with their doctrinal perspectives. The religious culture of the community will affect the choice of connection strategies.  By effectively communicating which moral and spiritual values configure the basis for its work, the organization…

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

volunteer appreciation and retention

Volunteers play a very important role in the success of nonprofit organizations, and acknowledging their dedication and hard work not only elevates their spirits but is essential for their motivation and retention within the organization. Volunteer appreciation strategies can be divided into two groups:

  • Ongoing strategies, which are embedded in the organization's culture and are part of the day-to-day operations.
  • Periodic appreciation and recognition strategies, which are special gestures that celebrate and thank volunteers.

Ongoing appreciation and retention strategies for your nonprofit’s volunteers

Leadership support and recognition

It all starts with senior leadership setting the example of their support for the role of volunteers within the organization. They do this by speaking positively about volunteer efforts to achieve the organization's goals. When volunteer contributions are acknowledged at the highest levels of the organization, it will increase volunteer dedication and productivity and create a culture of appreciation and respect of volunteer efforts throughout the organization.

Clear vision of volunteer roles and responsibilities

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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

lived experience experts

The inclusion of lived experience experts (LEEs) within nonprofits impacts beneficiaries on 3 levels: the individual, community and policy levels. On the individual level, LEEs serve as role models to current program participants, provide their feedback to staff, including which methodology contributes to their own willingness to change, influence organizational accountability practices, increase donor willingness to fund overhead expenses, influence volunteer management protocol, and inform fundraising campaign design. On the community level, lived experience experts inform nonprofits of potential barriers to accessing the service array and provide collective accounts of their experiences to work with nonprofits jointly to address social problems impacting them. On the policy level, LEEs influence policy advocacy by providing nonprofits with information about their perceived needs and barriers, which organizations are then able to advocate for from an informed position.

LEEs who engage with nonprofits’ “systems change activities” report feeling more committed to their own therapeutic recovery, receive meaningful job skills and leadership experience, improving LEEs' perceptions about authority figures, and empowering LEEs to continue working to improve their communities after engaging with the…

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ASU Lodestar Center Blog