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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, July 19, 2023


As nonprofits use more technology, they face increased risk from cyber security attacks that organizational leaders must be prepared to address. While all businesses face these threats, the nonprofit sector is often more vulnerable to attacks due to outdated information systems and equipment. Complicating these concerns is the increased number of remote employees using various internet connections and equipment. With the types and frequency of cyberattacks increasing, the impact of cyberattacks can be financially and operationally devastating unless nonprofits adequately and proactively prepare.

A cyberattack can occur in multiple ways by accessing computers, mobile phones, and network systems. In 2020, 330 million people were victims of cybercrime, and the FBI has estimated that cyberattacks have increased by 300% over the past three years. The costs to businesses are also escalating, and recent information shows that nonprofit organizations are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than for-profit businesses. To manage this vulnerability, nonprofit leaders must…

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Wednesday, July 12, 2023


In the current online-based business landscape, online content can make or break awareness of an organization. For nonprofits, this content can help get an organization’s name in front of the people who need it most in the form of blog content, newsletters, social media posts, and more. 

Storytelling is using written content to relay a message. It can be used to build crucial relationships between an organization and its audience, as well as adding a personal touch to a brand’s online presence. In its most effective form, storytelling creates an association between an organization and what it stands for. 

For beginners to the storytelling process, there are a number of goals to keep in mind as you write.

Demonstrate impact

Impact stories can show firsthand the effect that your organization has on the community it serves. They often contain inspiring messages that push people to act. Impact stories not only emphasize a nonprofit’s work, but they also bring a human touch to an otherwise theoretical subject. Rather than nameless and faceless statistics, impact stories foster connection in ways that leave a lasting impression on readers. 

To show impact in your storytelling try things like:

  1. Emphasizing personal details. These can be as small as a person’s age, or as large as their personal struggles. The goal is to show the human side of your story’s subject. 
  2. Following a…
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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

resource allocation

A nonprofit organization must achieve financial balance by spending the appropriate amount of money in each spending category to ensure the nonprofit delivers impactful results. The three main spending categories are program service expenses, management and general expenses, and fundraising expenses, according to the IRS Form 990.

How to appropriately allocate a nonprofit organization’s resources for impactful results has been a long-standing issue in the nonprofit sector. There are many reasons as to why including satisfying all stakeholders, external pressures from “watchdog” organization ratings, an overall lack of resources, pressure to spend on programming, pressure to not spend on overhead, and the list goes on and on. One can see how it would be easy to get caught up in all of this.

How to base allocation decisions

Thankfully, there are solutions for nonprofit organizations. To begin with, a nonprofit should look at how they are basing their decisions. Decisions should be made first and foremost with the mission of the nonprofit in mind. Next, outcomes, or impactful results, should be what drives the decision on where to allocate a nonprofit organization’s resources. In other words, decisions should not be made based on external pressures to allocate resources a certain way, but these…

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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

lgbt philanthropy

While LGBTQ+ organizations have become more visible in recent years, they have existed for decades. First, they were communities where its members could freely express their sexuality and engage in discussions about the advancement of their rights and place in society. 

But, after direct attacks of violence, discrimination and harassment toward LGBTQ+ people, these organizations began to do advocacy work in the legislative arena and some members even took to the streets as demonstrators marking the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement of the 1960s.

This further foundation support for LGBTQ+ organizations for the first time ever and marked the beginning of a tradition of giving from people and organizations outside the LGBTQ+ community. 

Since then, U.S.-based grantmakers have awarded more than 88,300 grants to LGBTQ+ organizations and projects totaling $2.45 billion, according to reports by the Funders for LGBTQ Issues. 

While funding for LGBTQ+ issues in the United States continues to grow every year, a new

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Wednesday, June 21, 2023

online fundraising Lillian Finley

Online fundraising has become one of the leading products produced by a technology-based world. With the internet being one of the main sources of communication, the latest news, and so on, it was no surprise that the nonprofit sector began tailoring its fundraising to fit the ever-evolving world we live in.

Aside from that, online fundraising is not as new as many people would like to think. Online fundraising has been around for quite some time, but gained a massive amount of traction in the past five years, mainly due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Although online fundraising was not new when it gained traction, many were still skeptical due to it being a foreign way of receiving donations. As time has progressed online fundraising has become a go-to for many organizations but now the question has arisen, can online fundraising help sustain nonprofits in the long run?

Like any fundraising practice that is conducted in an organization, there are pros and cons to each side of it. When evaluating online fundraising there were several benefits found that can help sustain nonprofits. These benefits are:

  1. Donor relations and the ability to reach a broader audience
  2. Saving time and money
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