Illustration of writing an article on a laptop

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, August 23, 2023

fundraiser ideas

Fundraising is a critical portion of every nonprofit’s day-to-day work. But consequently, the longer your organization is working, the harder it can be to keep fundraising methods from going through the motions. Recycled fundraising ideas are unlikely to catch the eye of new donors, and even more likely to lose the interest of long-term ones. On the bright side, an innovative and new fundraising idea can do the opposite: piquing the interest of donors new and old in addition to spreading awareness of your organization’s brand. 

Read this list to discover a few new fundraising ideas to try out, or even use them as a starting point to create your own original idea. 

Organize a Paint and Sip

A paint and sip fundraiser can be a great way for an organization’s employees and supporters alike to build relationships in a low-stress environment. The concept is versatile and can be customized to fit the unique circumstances, persona and audience of any organization. The event can be done-up as a formal wine mixer complete with painting instructors, or done-down to be a casual evening of free-reign painting and casual, even child-friendly, drinks. Nonprofits can raise funds by either charging for entry or encouraging donations throughout the night.…

Read more

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

staff retention

For years, nonprofits have seen high turnover and burnout with their staff. While the mission and impact of an organization can be motivating to staff, it is not enough to retain and recruit the best and most passionate talent. Establishing retention and recruitment strategies that focus on the people of the organization and their needs are crucial in maintaining and attracting talented and satisfied staff.

Where do you start and why?

To successfully retain and recruit staff, nonprofits must start by changing their mindset in how they spend money and resources on them. An investment must be made in the people of an organization to foster connections and acknowledge their value. If they feel connected and valued in the workplace, they are more likely to stay engaged and motivated in their positions. Nonprofits can then move on to building their retention strategy that will aid in recruitment.

How to build a retention strategy

  • Provide fair compensation packages: This is where the mindset on money applies. By determining fair compensation packages and providing these, an organization clearly shows that they value their people and prioritize their well-being. It is understandable that not all organizations are in a financial state to provide compensation at market levels though so by…
Read more

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

social media

In today's digital age, social media has emerged as a powerful tool that transcends geographical boundaries and connects people from all walks of life. For nonprofits, harnessing the potential of social media can amplify their impact and propel their missions forward. 

Here are five effective strategies that nonprofits can employ to leverage social media for greater reach, engagement, and ultimately, impact.

Storytelling and impactful content: stirring emotions for lasting impact

At the heart of every nonprofit's mission are stories of change and transformation. Social media provides a dynamic platform to share these stories through a variety of formats, including videos, images, and written posts. 

For instance, Earth Hour is a successful interactive content campaign that was developed by the World Wide Fund…

Read more

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

donor retention

For many nonprofit organizations, fundraising is critical to an organization’s ability to implement programs, support its beneficiaries, and serve its mission. In an increasingly competitive funding environment, retaining existing donors becomes critical to ensuring success for nonprofit organizations.

Unfortunately, donor retention rates hover around 40% which means for most nonprofits, they are in a perpetual cycle of trying to attain new donors. Many organizations appear content with that strategy and continue to focus their fundraising efforts on acquisition. They spend their time and financial resources replenishing a progressively leaky donor bucket overlooking the chance to build important donor relationships. They are challenged to retain current donors and turn those making one-time gifts into repeat donors. So why does this matter?

New Donor acquisition is costly – it can cost up to $1.50 to raise $1.00 when it is coming from new donors, while using existing donors will be significantly less, $.20 or less per dollar raised.

Because retaining donors cost less when fundraising, tapping into that base can increase revenue. A small improvement of just 10% in donor retention rates can…

Read more

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

overhead expenses

For several decades, overhead spending has been closely monitored as a method of evaluating a nonprofit’s effectiveness by donors, management, and charity watchdog groups. Individual funders, government agencies and foundations have used overhead ratios, the percentage of program vs fundraising and administrative expenses, as a “proxy for nonprofit efficiency”. This close focus on overhead spending has limited nonprofit advancement, harmed program outcomes, and contributed to the chronic underpayment of nonprofit employees. Overhead spending is a necessary and essential part of successful nonprofit programs. One dollar of overhead spending can increase revenue by $3.45.

Nonprofit overhead consists of finance, human resources, information technology (IT), fundraising, staff benefits, staff trainings, and part of the non-programmatic staff salaries. A common but costly misconception is the belief that all staff salaries are an overhead expense. While the bulk of admin and fundraising salaries are overhead, program staff salaries and admin staff who assist with program activities are not true overhead. Talented and dedicated staff are essential to nonprofit success as they are the first and main connection between the organization and the client. Without competitive salaries and benefits to pay staff, nonprofits will struggle to retract and retain employees and will need to utilize underqualified volunteers. IT and human resources…

Read more

ASU Lodestar Center Blog