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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 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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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

volunteer satisfaction

Volunteer engagement plays a pivotal role in the success of nonprofit organizations, impacting productivity, service delivery, and overall operational costs. Volunteer satisfaction is a key factor influencing retention, donor support, and community engagement.

The importance of volunteer engagement

Volunteers contribute significantly to the nonprofit missions, offering their time, skills, and passion. Successful volunteer engagement practices not only enhance organizational effectiveness but also drive funding, boost morale, and garner community support. The ability to retain satisfied volunteers directly correlates with sustained organizational impact.

Successful volunteer engagement practices have been studied and researched across nonprofit entities. This research underscores the critical role of volunteer satisfaction in organizational success. The literature reveals that 60 million Americans volunteered for a total of 8.1 billion hours in 2011. The positive correlation between volunteer satisfaction and increased volunteering hours is evident globally, emphasizing the need for a focus on satisfaction and retention.

Volunteer satisfaction has notable financial implications. A survey found that 65.6% of CEOs believe volunteers…

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Wednesday, March 6, 2024

lists on stickynotes ASU

Are you a nonprofit organization hoping to secure funding to advance your mission and projects? I mean, who isn’t? If you answered yes, you've likely contemplated hiring a grant writer to navigate the intricate landscape of grant applications. However, before taking that step, evaluating your organization's readiness for grants is crucial. In this guide, we'll delve into the key considerations you should address before hiring an expert grant writer.

Understanding grant readiness

The term “grant readiness” encompasses the preparedness of a nonprofit to pursue and manage grant funding effectively. While a proficient grant writer is indispensable, it's equally vital to ensure that your organization possesses the requisite infrastructure, capability, and readiness to embark on grant opportunities.

Mission, vision, and value clarity

Ensure your organization has a clearly defined mission statement aligning with the goals and priorities of potential funders. Grantmakers seek to support organizations with a robust sense of purpose and direction.

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ASU Lodestar Center Blog