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.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Jennifer Kirksey blog graphic

Illustration by Yuxin Qin

Jennifer Kirksey

posted by
Jennifer Kirksey
Fall 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

In a survey of the charitable community through the Independent Sector (PDF), nonprofit professionals admitted that they need more engagement with their stakeholders. Yet, when looking at literature about stakeholder engagement, namely beneficiary engagement, very few nonprofits are actually being intentional about their engagement. Great evidence exists that nonprofit professionals face obstacles, mostly their own preconceived ideas, around proactively involving program beneficiaries in their program practices. These program practices include needs assessment, decision-making, program implementation, and evaluation.

However, after looking at the benefits that might arise, leaders in the sector may change their mind. Let us take a look at some of the common obstacles and see how investing in beneficiaries could change that perspective.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Volunteer management blog

Illustration by Yuxin Qin

Mark Hager

posted by
Mark A. Hager
Associate Professor of Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Arizona State University

Big news! Results from my most recent Volunteer Management Capacity Study are now posted at the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE) website. If the details on the investments, challenges and practices in volunteer administration are something you are interested in, then please go take a look at the new report. It follows up on a study that I conducted back in 2003, when I reported the country’s first national snapshot on the readiness of nonprofit organizations to provide good experiences for their volunteers.

If you really want to dig back, you can also page through the briefing report from the original 2003 Volunteer Management Capacity Study. That study was the federal government’s idea, and I was in the right place at the right time when they were looking for somebody to do it. President Bush (the younger one) had given a State of the Union address where he encouraged everybody to go volunteer more, and that prompted the White House to want to get a better handle on the topic. The national survey of nonprofit organizations provided our first benchmark insights into the nation’s readiness to handle an onslaught of new volunteers.

Should we expect that much has changed over a 20-year period? There’s a post going around my Facebook right now that notes how almost all of humanity lived through periods of nearly imperceptible social change, whereas the first flight at Kitty Hawk (1903) and Armstrong’s walk on the moon (1969) are only separated by 66 years. And since that moonwalk, smartphones and the internet have put the preponderance of human knowledge into our pockets. The world is moving fast. Is that the case for volunteer administration?

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Network and inclusion

Illustration by Yuxin Qin

Mitch Menchaca

posted by
Mitch Menchaca
Fall 2020 Alumnus, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

This past year’s social justice movement has caused many organizations to take a leap and highlight their key values for society to take notice of and support. Statements of unity, anti-racism, and DEI commitments have been established by nonprofits of all subsectors and have been posted on websites, social media, and through the mainstream press. However, according to the National Council of Nonprofits, values written on a page are not authentic until an organization’s actions demonstrate them. This act of solidarity is a starting point, but not valid unless the organization takes intentional actions to progress their mission to commit to DEI.

The concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are not new, but integrating DEI into organizations can be daunting, especially when contemplating where and how to start. A nonprofit has many facets of the organization to consider when starting DEI work, including the board, staffing, programs, and how it connects to the greater community. An organization should hope to accomplish how it can lead with their values, understand and agree on key terminology, and build a process with authenticity at the core. This will lead to a starting point that will create DEI strategies to ensure impact.

Where to start? These five actions will get your nonprofit started, or help to transition into DEI work.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Water spigot

Illustration by Yuxin Qin

Katie Peterson

posted by
Katie Peterson
Fall 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Nonprofit organizations love the idea of improving their infrastructure, and according to Stanford Innovation Review, organizations who invest the proper resources into infrastructure are more likely to produce efficient charitable outcomes in regard to their missions than those who don’t. If investing into nonprofit infrastructure will help advance organizations to that next level, then why do nonprofit leaders loathe the idea of putting any money into infrastructure? The answer is simple, the nonprofit starvation cycle and unrealistic donor expectations.

The nonprofit starvation cycle has haunted the nonprofit sector for years, but as the sector becomes more professionalized, it is now more important than ever for leaders in the sector to begin taking the steps necessary to overcome this vicious cycle. The unrealistic expectations that have been created through the nonprofit starvation cycle by donors only continues to rise as nonprofit efficiency is judged on financial ratios.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Marina Sandoval blog

Illustration by Yuxin Qin

Marina Sandoval

posted by
Marina Sandoval
Fall 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on nonprofits nationwide. Organizations that rely on donations and grants for funding are being forced to look at their revenue portfolios and determine whether their revenue streams will be sustainable in the foreseeable future. Experts are not sure when it will be safe to hold large gatherings again, which hinders nonprofits that rely on an events-based structure to generate donations. The pandemic has impacted unemployment rates, thereby limiting household income available for donations to charity. A recent survey of Arizona’s nonprofits conducted by the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits found that, as a result of fundraising and program cancellations due to the pandemic, Arizona nonprofits have lost an estimated $53 million in revenue. The survey also revealed that 25% of nonprofits indicated that they have had to lay off or furlough employees and 69 % reported a loss of critical program volunteers. Last spring, the ASU Lodestar Center found that 11% of over 400 nonprofits surveyed were not able to operate at all during the first months of the pandemic.

Nonprofits are reimagining funding models and will have to think innovatively to ensure their mission continues. Several organizations across the U.S. have successfully adopted social enterprise strategies to diversify their revenue portfolios and create sustainable revenue streams, such as the YMCA and Goodwill Industries. Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good operated within a nonprofit or as a wholly owned subsidiary of the nonprofit.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Jessica Tudyk blog graphic

Illustration by Yuxin Qin

Jessica Tudyk

posted by
Jessica Tudyk
Fall 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Grantmaking foundations have the financial resources that nonprofit organizations need to accomplish their work. Nonprofit organizations are doing the work essential to further the grantmaking foundation’s mission. “The power and influence that flow from money, combined with the near absence of a negative feedback loop in philanthropy, result in potential manipulation of and control over nonprofit organizations,” Janice Pettey of Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy said. Foundation leaders need to understand how grantmaking practices affect nonprofit organizations and structure grantmaking practices in ways that best support nonprofit organizations.

According to The Independent Sector, funding-related practices and relationships are one of the challenges that the nonprofit sector faces, and there are myriad reasons that funding-related practices and relationships are challenging for the nonprofit sector. These include the lack of funding and difficulty securing adequate funds, funding structures that incentivize counterproductive practices, strained relationships between funders and nonprofits, and shifts in funding models and strategy. Mowrer’s Grant-seeking Challenges highlights that funder practices and requirements are considered one of the greatest challenges for grant-seekers. Foundations leaders need to recognize and understand how grantmaking practices can negatively affect nonprofit organizations and can lead to mission drift.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Jessica Chapman blog

Illustration by Yuxin Qin

Jessica Chapman

posted by
Jessica Chapman
Writer and editor

If your nonprofit has previously harbored the thought that you do not need board members for fundraising, it’s time to reconsider. There’s a lot you can do, and a lot more that you can raise, by engaging your board members in fundraising practices.

While engaging board members is the right thing for any organization to do, it isn’t always easy to accomplish. It can be frustrating bringing board members into the world of fundraising either because board members may not know how much they can offer, or the organization may not know how they can raise their participation. It is also possible that board members just do not know where to start.

Here are 11 ways for board members to engage in nonprofit fundraising:

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.

Pages

Blog Archive

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2013

2012

2011

Get our blog in your inbox!
Enter your e-mail address below and click "Subscribe" to receive e-mail updates when a new blog post is published.

Delivered by FeedBurner