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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.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Email marketing is an essential piece of any nonprofit communication strategy, especially if it's going to be used as a tool for donor engagement and fundraising campaigns. However, how can you ensure that your donors will even read your email? The answer is pretty simple; you have to make your emails enticing, engaging, and approachable. 

Here are some tips to help you create content that your recipients will open, read, and take action on. Once your nonprofit learns how to leverage email marketing, you will be able to reach your goals with a comprehensive internet marketing strategy that will ensure your success. If you use these tips to improve your email marketing strategy, then you will see increased donor and volunteer engagement for your nonprofit. 

1. A Striking Subject Line Can Do Wonders

Like what they always say, first impressions last. This can be applied to email marketing as well. You have to consider the fact that most of your donors are probably receiving a plethora of email on a daily basis. Some are tagged as relevant, and some are not-- these often land to the spam folder.

To ensure that your email reaches your donor, you have to take extra measures. One of which would be to…

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Monday, October 23, 2017

After months of recruiting for our 2017-2018 cohort, the Public Allies Arizona team has found 46 wonderful individuals that we are proud to call our Class 12 Allies.

At the beginning of September, they started CORE Training, the first step on a life-changing journey. Over the next 10 months, this diverse group of up-and-coming leaders will serve full-time at local nonprofit organizations and learn the skills to start careers in the nonprofit sector.

At CORE, topics such as capacity building, oppression, inclusive spaces and vocabulary, leadership, and professionalism were all discussed. Miquella Young, one of our allies, said that during training she discovered “the deep roots of my passion, my why, my driving force that pushes me when adversity strikes. Practicing our +1 of self-care along with self-awareness will ensure I spend every day learning and growing. Our diversity is a blessing: a valuable resource. Our problems are breeding grounds for solutions.”


Following CORE training, our allies and program managers ventured into the woods of Prescott for the three-day CORE Retreat. On the first day, identity, power and privilege were explored…

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nonprofit organizations have become sophisticated marketers using techniques like targeted campaigns and engagement (nurture) tracks to build strong, sustainable relationships with potential supporters.

Why then, do they still limit their effectiveness by using antiquated systems for the data so important to making these marketing tools effective?

We all have experience with the challenges presented by these systems.

1. Similar data is in different places

I want to put together a mailing list for my big annual event. I pull last year’s invite list from my mass email tool. Then I find the list of “day ofs” that I don’t have but my event coordinator (hopefully) stored in an Excel spreadsheet. I put the two together, hoping that I didn’t miss anyone because they weren’t in last year’s emailing, or that I don’t send two (or more) invites to my spam-sensitive donors.

2. Touchpoints and follow-up are hard to remember

How many times have you forgotten to call someone back after a meeting? ‘Nuf said.

3. Targeting is difficult

I want to reach out to people who have donated multiple times in the past, but did not donate this year. I concede that I’m not going to check all the donations because that might be as many as 3 or 4 spreadsheets a year, and if donations came in online it’s an additional problem. So, I look for the yearly event sheets for the last several years and hope…

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

On June 28, 1914, political assassins killed Austria’s archduke and his wife, leading to the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia and the beginnings of war across Europe.  The United States was drawn into the war in the spring of 1917. On October 3, to raise money for the war, the U.S. passed the War Revenue Act of 1917, substantially increasing taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers.  The new flat tax of 1915 gave way to a light progressive tax in 1916, paving the way for a steep progressive tax in 1917.  Households earning $2 million or more paid 2 percent in income tax in 1915, but were paying 67 percent by 1917. The war effort was thereby funded by wealthy families.

To provide some relief for these steep rates, the federal government provided ways for households to reduce their taxable income. The War Revenue Act introduced and codified what we know today as the charitable deduction. Details have been altered and clarified over the past 97 years, but the central mechanism is the same. The charitable deduction is a vital nexus between the general public, the nonprofit organizations they support, and government policy. It is a basic feature of the charitable sector in the United States.

So, Happy Birthday to the Charitable Deduction! Kudos to Georgia Congressman John Lewis for advancing a concurrent resolution back in March to recognize the…

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Monday, September 25, 2017

I’m not sure it’s possible to write this blog post without looking like a grammar Nazi, but I’m going to give it a whirl. Should be interesting, anyway.

This post is about the way people write the word nonprofit. Or non-profit. Or sometimes I even see non profit. Maybe these alternate spellings are all the same to you, and that’s fine. But for some people, the way you write this word says something about you. In the extreme case, if you do it the “wrong” way you might not get that grant, or that job, or that meeting. It might just matter that much. You never know who is on the other side of your writing or what they are thinking. 

Before I wind my way to my point, let me give a couple examples of how the words we use signal whether we are in with the cool kids or outside in the cold. The first one goes back about 3,000 years, when the armies of Gilead beat back the invading Ephramites. As told in the 12th chapter of the “Book of Judges” in the Christian bible, the Ephramites tried to blend in with the locals as they were fleeing the country. How do you sort out the bad guys? The Gilead soldiers had learned that the Ephramites had a hard time pronouncing some Hebrew words, including one that described the grain-bearing part of a plant stalk: shibboleth (שִׁבֹּלֶת‎). So, as people were crossing out of Gilead, army checkpoints asked each person to pronounce the word shibboleth. Say it like a Gileadite, and you can pass. Say it like an Ephramite…

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ASU Lodestar Center Blog