Arizona State University

Research Friday: ASU is an Important Central Hub for Nonprofit Organizations

posted by
Mary McGillicuddy,
Nonprofit Leadership
& Management
Arizona State University

Welcome to Research Friday! This week we welcome Mary McGillicuddy, one of the researchers who worked with the ASU College of Public Programs on a project that analyzed and mapped the social network of downtown Phoenix nonprofit organizations.

I've heard that the ASU Lodestar Center gets a ton of calls from nonprofit organizations looking to partner with other organizations. The Center works like a hub in that way, connecting the dots between the sector. In fact, the Arizona sector works that way, too — we often connect to each other through hubs.

Contrary to popular belief, social networks and social network analysis (SNA) both existed long before Facebook. SNA is a visual, quantitative measurement tool that has been used across disciplines since the 1950's. Recently, ASU's College of Public Programs used SNA to assess its impact on nonprofit organizations in the downtown Phoenix area. This kind of analysis fascinates me, and I think it can really help others understand what's really going on in the Arizona nonprofit sector. But, before diving headfirst into the research findings, there are a few important terms that merit a little explanation.

Very simply, a social network depicts patterns of social interaction between entities (Tichy Tichy, Tushman, and Fombrun, 1979)[4]. These entities, also called "nodes," can be individuals, groups, and/or organizations. An identified connection between two nodes is called a "tie." A tie varies in its strength, direction, and content, all of which depend on many independent factors, such as reciprocity and intimacy within the relationship. The type of tie depicted in a social network map depends on a study's content and purpose (Knoke and Yang, 2008)[3].

Our ASU study, led by former College of Public Programs Dean Debra Friedman, populated a social network map of Phoenix nonprofit organizations, including their relationship to ASU. Organizations were selected based on their proximity to the downtown Phoenix campus. Executive directors were contacted and asked to list the organization's five most important nonprofit partners within the last year; they were also asked to describe the nature of each partnership, such as resource sharing, along with the perceived importance of each partnership.

American Humanics: An Elite Group

posted by
Lyn McDonough,
American Humanics
Program Coordinator Senior,
ASU Lodestar Center

"The few, the proud..." Okay, okay — I stole this slogan from the U.S. Marine Corps. So, sue me! But I think it fits the graduating class of American Humanics (AH) students, all 18 of them.

The 18 students being recognized at the annual graduation celebration will have completed all requirements during the spring, summer, and fall semesters of 2011. Requirements not only include courses towards their degree program, but also 30 additional hours of coursework and 200 Career Field Exploration (CFE) hours — designed to assist students in "trying out" different nonprofit organizations and the jobs within them before they make any decisions about full-time employment. Once students complete the AH certification, which also includes a full-time, 600-hour semester as an intern, they have the tools and confidence necessary to begin working for a nonprofit organization and immediately make a significant contribution.

We held the American Humanics Senior Recognition Dinner on Monday, April 25th at the George Washington Carver Museum and Community Center, led by a first-generation AH alumna, Princess Crump. This year's theme, "Remember our Past, Recognize our Successes, Rediscover our Passion," was designed to highlight the successes of over 400 ASU/AH alumni working in the community to make a positive change. Princess exemplifies the work of a successful community leader with her help in renovating the Museum and her efforts over the last 10 years to develop a true community center in the Central Neighborhood. Her words to the graduates were, "You never know where your skills will take you, so learn all you can about whatever you are interested in doing." She is proud that she now understands how to read blue prints (and even has her very own hard hat and steel-toed boots)!

Dr. Bob Long, Distinguished Visiting Professor in Youth and Nonprofit Leadership from Murray State University, delivered an inspirational keynote address to graduates. He noted the importance of listening and shared his philosophy on being a good leader. Dr. Long joined Don Lindner (Chair of the ASU Lodestar Center's Advisory Council) and Dr. Robert Ashcraft (Director of the American Humanics program at ASU and Executive Director of the ASU Lodestar Center) in congratulating the graduates. Friends, family, ASU faculty, and AH students also attended in the recognition of the following graduates: