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.

Crafting a Successful Third Generation Nonprofit-Business Relationship

posted by
Laura L. Bush, Ph.D.,
Manager of Curriculum
Design & Innovation,
ASU Lodestar Center

Working as a nonprofit professional in the current economic environment can be challenging — and sometimes discouraging. Savvy nonprofits will fulfill their organization's mission by diversifying their income stream. One way they do this is by building mutually beneficial relationships with businesses that are also interested in positively impacting local communities. Such a relationship can be very profitable, both in terms of financial support and social gain. But in crafting successful nonprofit-business relationships, many nonprofit professionals find themselves in murky waters.

So, how can a nonprofit organization best go about building and sustaining those relationships? Moreover, what type of relationships and outcomes do businesses really want from partnering with nonprofit organizations?

Recently, I interviewed the facilitators of "Third Generation: Nonprofit | Business | Relationships | Evolved," a special three-hour workshop hosted by the National Bank of Arizona and organized by the ASU Lodestar Center. These experienced business and nonprofit professionals are committed to evolving the way nonprofit and for-profit organizations work together for good, and they were happy to give me a taste of what to expect from the workshop. Here's a bit of what they had to say:

How to Start a Nonprofit Organization: Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Make the Leap

posted by
Robert Duea,
Professional in Residence
ASU Lodestar Center
Pat Lewis,
Senior Professional
in Residence
ASU Lodestar Center

So, you're thinking about starting a nonprofit organization. You have a fantastic idea, but are you ready? Do you have everything you need before you begin? Is starting a nonprofit the right path for you?

Before you begin your nonprofit journey, you should ask yourself two very important questions. So, let's dive in, and see if you're ready!

1. "Why do I want to start a nonprofit organization rather than a for-profit organization?"

Both types of organization could be the right choice for you. After all, both are businesses, and both can help you provide the service you want to share. So, what is the difference? There are a number of similarities and differences. Here are few:

  • Nonprofit organizations are concerned primarily with social good; for-profits focus on profitability.
  • Nonprofit organizations must adhere to a rule of non-distribution whereby profits, or any excess at the end of the fiscal year, must be re-invested in the organization and its programs and may not be distributed to individuals; for-profits exist to distribute profit to owners and shareholders.
  • Nonprofit organizations comprise paid staff and volunteers; for-profits typically only have paid staff members.
  • Nonprofit organizations are governed by a board of directors; for-profits are governed by the owner(s) and, if a corporation, also a board of directors.
  • Nonprofit organizations are granted federal exemptions of certain taxes; for-profits are taxable.

These are a few of the key differences that can help you make the right choice for your organization. So, let's say you've chosen the nonprofit route. The next question you should ask yourself is: