ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

posted by
Prisma Paredes
Class 12 Public Ally

What I have learned in Public Allies:

  • · Social justice
  • · Data rescue 
  • · Networking
  • · Public speaking
  • · Advocating for myself

I felt like I was stuck working in a place with no more room to grow and develop. I didn’t know what my next step was going to be. I was working mixed shifts at Starbucks, wondering what the next challenge would be. I’ve always known my dream was to become an educator and empower children – to love, to learn and to believe in their capabilities. I wanted to be a person children can look up to for guidance and encouragement and be able to make a difference in their lives. One day I got a message – it was from my future director telling me to apply to Public Allies.

I can honestly say that my life has changed dramatically with Public Allies. They not only helped me overcome some small fears, such as writing a professional email and making connections with nonprofits, but also taught me to advocate for myself. I was always terrified to speak out. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

posted by
Gigi Eung
Class 12 Public Ally

Public Allies core value: Collaboration

We believe in the strength of the collective and we build consensus and empower each other to achieve common goals.

It takes a village to raise a child. As the Human Resource Staffing Coordinator (and later, the Volunteer Coordinator) for Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, I realized that it really does take a village to raise a child. There is strength in the collective power of partnerships and teamwork. Above all, I learned that crisis, obstacles and challenges are all areas of opportunity. All are blessings in disguise. It is what happens in times of crisis that leadership, collaboration and partnerships come together to create something magical and positive in the hearts of all those affected – in this case, the children of Arizona. In terms of Public Allies, everyone leads to help create a just and equitable society for each other. However, the children are the great futures that we must never allow to suffer alone. That is why it takes a village to raise a child. We cannot do it alone.

During the Arizona teachers strike, my organization was hit hard. What seemed like a small walkout turned into a statewide political movement that trickled down into localities, especially those in youth development and education – of which Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale is all about. The kids had nowhere to go during the walkout. What happened was beyond what I had imagined. It is one thing seeing the massive #RedforEd strikes on television and online every day, but it is another thing to actually be affected by the strike directly. Every day was tentative; schools were closed, some districts reversed information about school closings/openings in a matter of hours.

Monday, October 15, 2018

posted by
Pamela Timmons
Class 12 Public Ally

Thinking back, I had no idea where I was in life or where I wanted to be. I only knew I wanted to be in the nonprofit sector; I knew wanted to help. I have always known that to be my purpose. How I was going to get there and do my life’s purpose was up for debate. That is when I discovered Public Allies Arizona.

They took a single mother of two, who was pretty much stuck in life doing the bare minimum, and believed in me. They gave me a chance to express my talents and gifts in order to better serve the community.  They also allowed me the opportunity to connect with my purpose. I am here to help others find a way out of no way. 

Throughout all the trainings, workshops and countless social engagements, I started to remember who I was and what I brought to the “equation called life.” I brought hope that you too can dig deep and grasp anything your heart desires, anything you reach to seek no matter the situation. I realized you do not have to let your circumstances define you.

This is the mindset I chose to keep during the 10-month program. While serving at my placement, I filled my purpose by contributing to a cause.

Monday, October 8, 2018

posted by
Samantha Witter
Class 12 Public Ally

Through Public Allies Arizona, I was placed at AZCEND as the Family Resource Center Coordinator. AZCEND is a one-stop-shop for families in the Chandler/Gilbert community. AZCEND offers food boxes through their Food Bank, rent and utility assistance though the Community Action Program (CAP), and senior programs through the Chandler Senior Center and the Gilbert Community Center. In addition, they offer case management for homeless clients in the Interfaith Home Emergency Lodging Program (I-HELP). At AZCEND, they aim to change lives by nourishing minds and bodies to create a connected, thriving community.

 Within the Family Resource Center parenting workshops, early literacy programs, Giggles, Squiggles and Squirms (G.S.S,) child watch, and community health are offered. I set up and coordinated parenting workshops, helped with G.S.S, and assisted with child watch. In addition, I attended networking and community events to do outreach for our programs.


Monday, October 1, 2018

posted by
Hanna Burris
Class 12 Public Ally

I began working with Public Allies in the summer of 2017, just after graduating high school. A close friend of mine was already participating in the program and I admired how she was taking control of her life. I applied because I wished for a similar experience.

After the interview process, I was placed at the Arizona Commission for Post-Secondary Education (ACPE), which ironically, was my least desired match. The ACPE was my least favorite organization choice because it was out of my comfort zone. I prefer hands-on work; I did not want to work at a computer all day. However, I joined Public Allies to further develop my professional “real-world” skills; so inevitably, I was placed at the ACPE. My position title was College and Career Goal Arizona Communications and Volunteer Specialist. My roles included supporting the College and Career Goal Arizona (C2GA) programs as well as assisting the other in-house programs.


Monday, September 24, 2018

posted by
Ellie Slater
Class 12 Public Ally

After graduating college and moving to Arizona, I was unsure of what path to take in life. I knew I wanted to continue my education but I was not ready to be back in the classroom setting, I wanted real-life experience. In my search for continued learning, Public Allies quickly became an appealing way to continue my personal growth. Going into the program, I had a general idea of where I wanted to go in my career but was unsure how to accomplish my goals. I felt as though I needed more professional and personal development to become a more effective community leader and social worker in my future. Public Allies helped me accomplish this.

 Throughout the placement process, I was introduced to Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped (AFH) and immediately knew that it was the type of organization I wanted to work for. I have always been interested in working with individuals with special needs and AFH provided me the opportunity to serve a population I am passionate about. During my time at AFH, I learned so many important lessons from members. They taught me about positivity, friendship, hard work and countless other lessons.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

posted by
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor at

There are more than 1.3 million nonprofit organizations in the United States that employ more than 12 million people, with $340 billion in annual budget outlays. As the primary goal of nonprofit organizations is to advance, advocate or pursue a cause, it is understandable that many professionals want to focus their long-term career goals on nonprofit management. 

If that describes you, there are several things to know to accelerate your career in nonprofit management. They are: 

Understand the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofit organizations offer services to the public that governments and businesses do not. Hospitals, universities and religious organizations have long been the center of much nonprofit activity, but nonprofit structures are continuing to evolve. New investors and for-profit professionals are starting to work in this sector, and the line between businesses and nonprofits is beginning to blur. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

posted by
Jessica Yaffa
President and Co-Founder at No Silence, No Violence 

Raising money is tough, no matter how important the cause. 

According to, only half of U.S. nonprofits survive past five years, and of those that survive, about one third are in financial distress.

I’ve spent several years figuring out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to raising money for a nonprofit. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that getting private funding comes down to four things: persistence, creativity, existing relationships and talking.

Be Persistent

Many people express excitement and intention to donate to the cause, but then don’t follow through. We can decrease this, somewhat, by capturing the donation while excitement is still high. For our regular donors, a recurring donation program helps get donations from those who have agreed to donate on a monthly or yearly schedule.

If someone hasn’t agreed to donate the first couple of times you asked, it doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. If they’ve expressed interest, continue following up (without annoying them). Persistence is how we got funding from Wells Fargo. After applying for several grants, we were declined every time. We maintained the relationship and were eventually funded through one of their private foundations, and they became one of our biggest supporters. Persistence pays off.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

posted by
Cindi Phallen
President, Create Possibility

Have you ever made an announcement at a board meeting and everyone is excited and pledges to be involved in this new plan or initiative? WOO HOO!

Then, a little time goes by and it’s like crickets.  Nobody is doing anything and you feel like you’re in it all alone. Where did everyone go?

When you work with a nonprofit board, creating an environment where participation is valued is essential. Reflect on this a minute and ask yourself, “How have I encouraged and supported the success of each volunteer?” 

You want to be sure you’ve created a true partnership where both staff and volunteers are holding each other accountable and are there to support each other.  When you do, you’ll see volunteers leaning in and following up, asking you what you need, requesting information or guidance and performing at a higher level than before! All that leads to more money, more people and more community awareness. Wouldn’t that be nice?


Monday, August 27, 2018

posted by
Cindi Phallen
President, Create Possibility

Let me guess. You need your volunteers to spread the word about your good work, to connect you with their networks and generally be the amazing gatekeepers to the community you know they can be.

And, they seem willing. However,…very little is happening. What the heck? Are they trying to make you miserable? Do they not care about your mission after all? What can you do to change this?

First, check your mindset and think about how you’re thinking about your board. They have good intentions and are NOT trying to ruin your day. Nevertheless, there is a disconnect somewhere so let’s try to figure it out.

Here’s the truth about why your board members aren’t actively serving as community ambassadors:

  • They don’t know what that specifically means
  • They are motivated, but don’t have everything they need to start
  • They don’t understand why they need to do so

It’s time to figure this out and facilitate their success so you aren’t frustrated. Here are three ways to support your volunteers so your amazing team of confident ambassadors raise awareness for your cause:



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