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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, November 1, 2023

attracting staff

A nonprofit organization is only as successful as the staff behind the mission. Building a successful team means attracting the right people for the right job, but what is the value of attracting the right talent if you cannot retain them? According to the Internal Revenue Service, there are more than 1.8 million registered charitable organizations in the United States, and nonprofits have the third largest workforce of any U.S. industry.

What does this mean?

Well, more organizations means more jobs which leads to more vacancies and the increase highlights the need for effective recruitment and retention strategies. A survey of over 1,000 nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. was conducted by the National Council of Nonprofits in 2021 and looked at the rate of open positions at a given time. They found that nearly a quarter have 9% of their positions open, 34% reported a rate of 10-19%, 26% reported a rate of 20-29%, and over a fifth of those surveyed reported over 30% of their positions being open. That same survey reported salary, childcare, policies, stress or burnout, and the draw of remote work as factors that contributed to the vacancy rates.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

AmEx Leadership Academy Class 11

Janey Pearl Starks is the Equity, Diversity and Community Engagement Officer at Mountain Park Health Center, a nonprofit community health center that aims to provide affordable healthcare to people from all stages and walks of life.

Janey Pearl Starks speaking at the 2019 NLASA Senior Celebration

Pearl Starks was a part of the 2018-19 class of the ASU Lodestar Center’s American Express (AmEx) Leadership Academy. She was later admitted to the prestigious AmEx 2.0 Leadership Academy program at the Aspen Institute, comprising competitively-selected alumni of AmEx leadership programs…

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Wednesday, October 18, 2023

staff turnover

The nonprofit sector, like other sectors, has been facing high turnover. It is time to consider strategies and innovative ways to recruit good talent and retain qualified staff. High employee turnover is costly to organizations and delays mission advancement as its focus must be filling vacant positions. So, nonprofit leaders must equip themselves with the knowledge and resources that are needed for retention.

For leadership to take proactive measures, the following list is six key
strategies recommendations for consideration and implementation by leadership and management in retaining qualified staff.


Keeping staff engaged in the organization and the mission creates a culture of purpose and meaning, resulting in staff feeling ownership resulting in a continuous involvement in the organization. Creating a culture of purpose and meaning creates a working environment that is passionate and productive internally, which would transfer externally.

Competitive compensation and benefits

Offering competitive salaries could be challenging to smaller organizations due to financial budgets; however, it is important that the compensation offered is fair and aligns with the work being done. Offering competitive compensation and benefits ensures that staff feels valued, decreasing the need to seek other employment opportunities, thus reducing turnover. Again, the importance of employees feeling appreciated…

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Wednesday, October 11, 2023

nonprofit resiliency

Nonprofits provide an immense service to our communities, and are the first place many go when they at their most vulnerable.  Even so, parts of the nonprofit sector face reduced resources, increased regulation, and increased competition, putting service-based organizations in a state of vulnerability as they continue efforts to show up for community members in need while facing similar survival instincts. Data from the National Center on Charitable Statistics shows that 30% of nonprofits will fail within the first ten years, often for reasons associated with capacity building and resiliency.  The National Council of Nonprofits defines capacity building as “an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of a nonprofit”.

Special care and attention must be placed on understanding the deep-rooted relationship between capacity building and nonprofit resiliency.  The distinction lies in resiliency’s focus on deep, long-term, and transparent processes that align with the organization’s strengths, opportunities, and questions or needs rather than conventional capacity building which often includes half day workshops that are not individualized to organizational needs. Organizations are as unique as human beings, and without care and attention to this uniqueness, standard change techniques have a higher risk of failing.

Strategies to…

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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

data decision making

Numbers, numbers, numbers… If you’re anything less than a mathematician or accountant, they may not be your favorite, but they should play an integral role in the decision-making and impact of your organization. For prospective donors, volunteers and employees, numbers and data can provide the groundwork that stabilizes an organization’s mission and vision. It not only demonstrates what the organization has already accomplished but also establishes a trend for all the places it could go in the future. To effectively lead or participate in nonprofit work, data must be a major factor in every decision. 

How to track data 

While an organization’s mission should be its topmost priority, letting data tracking fall to the wayside in pursuit of a mission statement can harm a nonprofit in the long term. To maintain these records, data tracking should be built into everyday processes. According to Business News Daily, businesses typically collect data in three primary ways:

  1. Directly asking
  2. Indirectly tracking
  3. Utilizing external data sources

A combination of each method is required to form a holistic approach to data recording. Consider building survey questions directly into event registrations, volunteer sign-ups, or mailing list registrations to begin collecting data about who the…

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ASU Lodestar Center Blog