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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.


Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Nonprofit human service organizations consist of a wide range of organizations focusing on delivering solutions to communities through health care, housing assistance, family-oriented services, youth development, and more. Services that were once provided primarily by the government have slowly shifted to the nonprofit sector to reduce government spending.

Although this push has helped nonprofits scale their programs and develop more professional modes of operation, this support often comes at the expense of failure to cover full costs of program implementation, complex application and reporting processes, changes to contracts made by funding agencies with little decision-making power on the organizations, and late payments. This often leaves nonprofits in a vulnerable financial position as many service providers already have liabilities exceeding their assets, low cash reserves, and negative operating margins.

Despite these challenges, nonprofits still have the power to appropriately respond to these circumstances and ensure that they continue delivering mission-focused results. Effective service delivery and adherence to mission requires nonprofit leaders to commit to outcomes. Defining your organization’s intended outcomes serves as a…

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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Circles

Nonprofits today are confronted with a plenitude of changes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in their sector. As the nation navigates the pandemic and the multitude of ongoing political conflicts, nonprofits are now more than ever expected to deliver on DEI efforts.

For example, less talk – more action will be the mindset as internal and external stakeholders look to the social sector for leadership in the DEI movement. Many believe that DEI efforts can be a driving force in promoting innovative ways for problem solving, recruiting and retaining top talent, and bridging the gap between nonprofits and the communities they serve.

In addition, another reason that DEI can help strengthen an organization's mission specifically comes in the form of accountability. Nonprofits are expected to “be better” and “to lead by example”, which conveys that, as a sector, organizations will be looked to for calling out problematic behaviors that do not align with equity and justice. Nonprofits are working hard to sustain missions, grow and excel in their goals. In order to achieve that, however, it is imperative that they incorporate DEI into those same goals.

According to The National Council of Nonprofits, "embracing diversity, equity and inclusion as organizational values is a way to intentionally make space for positive outcomes to flourish, whether in direct services or in the nonprofit capacity building or public policy spheres."…

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Funds growing

Many nonprofit organizations are focusing on how to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principals in their work to better serve their communities. Although there is no single response that can lead to racial justice and racial equity in our society, nonprofits play an important role in creating change, accessing resources, and attaining opportunities.

Additionally, studies show that organizational effectiveness increases with a more diverse workforce, and culturally relevant organizations may increase staff retention. DEI strategies are important for authentically realizing the organization’s mission and may result in more funding opportunities.

Studies suggest that communities of color are overlooked as potential partners, donors, and stakeholders. Many nonprofits focus on white, wealthy, and well-connected donors, instead of partnering with the community the organization aims to serve. This means the communities that nonprofits intend to serve are often left out of important decisions, and nonprofits may be missing an opportunity to bring in new partners.

Some organizations have utilized community partnerships such as co-production and community-centric funding to engage communities they serve in their organizational processes. An example of collaborative efforts for programming and shared funding is an organization that works to address homelessness partnering with neighborhood residents for a solution. Another example…

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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Diversity web

Successfully including all stakeholders in the life of a nonprofit requires attention to enacting and maintaining inclusive practices.

When traditionally excluded people are included, power imbalances weakenwork environments become more innovativetrust between colleagues increases, and financial performance increases. Diversity and inclusion remain one of the top nine challenges facing the charitable sector as reported by a survey of more than 1,000 diverse individuals, but disabled people are often left out of the inclusion conversation altogether. More than one in four Americans have a diagnosed disability. Nonprofits will be more relevant and more impactful in meeting their missions when they utilize strategies to include disabled stakeholders.*

(I will predominantly utilize Identity-First Language (e.g., “disabled people”) as opposed to Person-First Language (e.g., “people with disabilities''). For decades, many professionals were taught Person-First Language (PFL) as an effort to remove the disability from people's identities, and …

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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Illustration of laptop dispensing coins

The nonprofit sector is ever-changing, and in this digital age it is now opening its arms to a new way to accept donations: through the blockchain and cryptocurrency. New apps and online services have made working with cryptocurrency easier than ever, allowing nonprofits to avoid turning away donors who wish to donate digital currency.

Some apprehension is understandable, but we’re here to answer some common questions. We’ll start with a few basics, and then move into questions about the advantages (and the risks) for nonprofits.

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is often described as digital money or gold, stored in a virtual wallet. Its value is determined by its perceived value, just like a traded stock. When investors purchase cryptocurrency “coins,” like Bitcoin for example, they hope the value and utility will increase over time. Cryptocurrency is created by code, not issued by a government like dollars or pesos. This allows cryptocurrency transactions to be done peer-to-peer over a decentralized network, without a third party such as a bank or financial intermediary.

Thousands of cryptocurrencies have been created over the previous decade. In November 2021, the market cap of all cryptocurrencies…

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ASU Lodestar Center Blog