Saturday, January 17, 2015

posted by
Maureen O'Brien
Development Director
Musical Instrument Museum

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Paris, France to attend the 5ème conférence de fundraising pour le secteur culturel (5th conference on fundraising for the cultural sector) put on by the  Association Française des Fundraisers (French Association of Fundraisers). I was able to participate thanks in part to professional development grants from  Arizona Commission on the Arts and Sigma Alpha Iota. When exploring your own professional development, I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to identifying opportunities as well as ways to fund your experience. 

This was my first return visit to France since studying abroad in Montpellier twelve years ago. It was wonderful to again be immersed in French culture and language. I rented a little apartment in the Canal Saint Martin neighborhood through Airbnb and pretended for one week that I was “une vraie Française.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

posted by
Patsy Kraeger, Ph.D.

This blog post is second in a two part series on Foundation Supported Social Enterprises. Click here to read part one.

Why did they do this? 

The Nick Simons Foundation did not have a large staff. The foundation opened in 2005 when Nick Simons, a great lover and visitor of Nepal died. Nick Simons was keenly aware of the medical needs in high altitude low income countries such as Nepal. The family foundation members were interested in funding the development of a unique anesthesia machine that neither requires electricity nor compressed oxygen to function.

This device would be invaluable for infrastructure-weak health systems in low income countries that often suffer from energy shortages or no energy access at all. They wanted to be closely involved with the venture and they want to commercially market and sell the product- a product with a social benefit. They recognized in order to be successful that they need an income stream and they did not want to become a fundraising foundation. Instead they thought of operating a social enterprise. They formed Gradian Health Systems.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

posted by
Kathy Renfro
Graduate Student
ASU Master of Nonprofit 
Management and
Leadership program

Nonprofit assignments can place volunteers in precarious positions of potential, personal liability. Prior to the 1940s, the Charitable Immunity Doctrine shielded nonprofits from tort liability, but did not protect volunteers. To prevent volunteers from abandoning volunteerism because of liability concerns, the Volunteer Protection Act (VPA) was signed into law by President Clinton in 1997.
The VPA provides conditional immunity for volunteers who are:

  • acting within the scope of their assigned tasks; 
  • not grossly negligent; 
  • not operating a motor vehicle that requires state licensure; and 
  • not committing acts of violence, terrorism, hate crimes, sexual offenses, or, while intoxicated. 
(Gross negligence is defined as willful, criminal and/or reckless misconduct, and conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights and safety of the injured.) To elucidate the provisions of the VPA, I have created a hypothetical scenario that presents conditions under which the volunteer might be protected. This scenario identifies an assigned volunteer task, an exigent circumstance, a discussion of whether the volunteer acted negligently, mitigating circumstances, and a discussion about the vicarious liability of the nonprofit.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

posted by
Laura L Bush, Ph.D.
Communications Director
and Content Strategist
Highway Twenty
A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a common way nonprofit organizations invite bids for products and services. Any RFP includes a specific list of requirements that all responding vendors must address. In theory, an RFP’s intention is to filter vendors for quality and ensure competitive pricing.

Unfortunately, when it comes to technology-related RFPs, nonprofit organizations often write inadequate proposals that waste time and money for the nonprofit and the responding vendors. Two problems create ineffective RFPs: first, although well-intentioned, RFPs often demonstrate unrealistic expectations about the time and cost for executing on digital products or services; second, nonprofits often solicit technology they don’t need because they don’t know the right questions to ask.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

posted by
Pierre Kaluzny
Sputnik Moment

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. I like to redefine it as a Constituent Relationship Management system. Originally limited to sales and support departments, it has now been widely adopted by nonprofit organizations. Here are the Top 6 reasons your organization should be using a CRM.

Know you are about meet a donor BEFORE you enter that meeting
We are all communicating more than ever and connecting with more people than ever. How are you supposed to keep track of the important conversations happening with your constituents? Let alone share it with your team. Your CRM system will provide a simple way for all staff to record emails, phone calls and meetings with your donors, volunteers or other supporters. Imagine it: all of your organization interactions with your stakeholders in one place and no more searching through multiple spreadsheets. This consolidated ongoing communication will enrich the contact profile and start building institutional knowledge, which is coincidentally my next point.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

posted by
Ryan Stewart

As the owner of a Miami based SEO and digital marketing agency, I've helped hundreds of businesses solve complicated marketing problems. I can honestly say that the most challenging clients have been non-profit organizations. The combination of low funding, manpower and resources make it extremely difficult to complete your mission statement and make a positive change in the world.

When your organization is working with this many moving pieces, a lot of important tasks tend to get de-emphasized. In my tenure the most common task that falls by the wayside is having a concrete marketing plan. A marketing plan is easily overlooked in a non-profit organization because it gets lost behind the goals, ideals, values and mission statement. What most non-profits fail to realize is that a marketing plan should go hand in hand with your mission statement and will ultimately maximize your impact on the world.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Early each semester I graph five years-worth of the number of Arizona nonprofits that gained status as income-tax-exempt under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The graph and the data I used to create it is material for one of my graduate seminars at ASU called The Nonprofit Sector, and students always seem interested in thinking about why exemptions might bounce around from year to year. The (great) data is readily downloadable from the exempt organization section of the IRS Business Master File.

This fall I got a pretty good surprise from the spike in number of exemptions that the IRS okayed earlier this summer.  In a normal month, 40 to 50 Arizona nonprofits will gain ‘public charity’ status from the IRS.  You can see this reflected in the chart, with a low-point coming in the average for November and December 2012: 31 new Arizona charities.  That’s actually 41 in November and only 20 that December (2012).  The earlier high point had come in September 2011, with 84 exemptions approved.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

posted by
Lyn McDonough,
Program Coordinator Sr.,
Nonprofit Leadership Alliance 
ASU Lodestar Center

The origin of the word “intern” goes back to the Latin and French meaning: to restrict or confine within prescribed limits, as prisoners of war, enemy aliens, or combat troops who take refuge in a neutral country. Currently an intern is thought to be an individual gaining practical supervised training in a hospital or an assistant or trainee working to gain practical experience in an occupation, generally an internship is a temporary and supervised position where on-the-job training is learned. The current narrative includes a person of little status, conducting menial tasks in hopes of gaining experience, letters of recommendations and potentially a permanent position with the organization.

Much like the term “community service” once thought to be voluntary, altruistic service to others in the community has changed and is now used as a term for forced service hours for breaking a law in lieu of or in combination with fines. Over time, the term “community service” has evolved to mean the individual did something wrong. The term “intern” has changed over time as well with horror stories of long meaningless hours doing grunt work, being taken advantage of and then turned away with no job in sight.

Legally the abused intern is gaining status by winning law suits and human resource departments are taking note. Although the laws may give rules and guidelines to follow, government entities and nonprofits are exempt. The discussion goes on and whichever side your organization takes, there is the perception that there is a line of students just waiting to work long hours, with no pay to gain experience. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

posted by 
Mark Hager, Ph.D.

Associate Professor,
ASU School of Community 
Resources & Development
The ASU Lodestar Center congratulates Mark Hager for recognition of his article Engagement Motivations in Professional Associations as recipient of the 2014 Award for Outstanding Academic Publication on Membership Organizations by the American Society of Association Executives and the Institute for Nonprofits at North Carolina State University. This blog post summarizes the research presented in his award-winning article.
If you are a working professional, there’s a good chance that you are (or could be) a member of an association of people in your field. Could be local, statewide, national, or international. You pay dues to a central nonprofit that probably has annual meetings, probably educates on the ethics and standards of the field, and maybe even helps people find jobs. These are often called professional associations, and examples are the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American College of Healthcare Executives, and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

posted by
Anne Byrne,
ASU Lodestar Center


 Question: I am starting a nonprofit organization and need to apply for 501c3 status.  Can I fill out the new 1023-EZ form?  

The Internal Revenue Service recently released Form 1023-EZ, the streamlined application for recognition of exemption of 501c3 status. This form is significantly shorter and easier to complete than the regular application, which is a welcome change for aspiring small nonprofit organizations. In order to utilize the streamlined applications, organizations must meet eligibility requirements and complete the Form 1023-EZ Eligibility Worksheet. There are 21 questions on the worksheet and an affirmative answer to any of the questions makes your organization ineligible to utilize the streamlined application.

Organizations with Budgets and Previous Expenses Less than $50,000 per year
The streamlined application is intended for small organizations, so only those with projected budgets of less than $50,000 per year are eligible. If the organization has been operating already, gross receipts from each of the last three years also must be less than $50,000 per year and total assets cannot exceed $250,000.


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