Tuesday, May 3, 2016


posted by
Joseph Garcia
Director of Communication,
ASU Morrison Institute
ASU Morrison Institute
Latino Public Policy Center

Boards are the brain trusts of nonprofit organizations, responsible for providing leadership, oversight, expertise, guidance, accountability, vision, fundraising and an invaluable connection to community. But to truly achieve its nonprofit mission, board leadership must be as diverse as the organization’s ever-changing community and clientele – not only in relation to demographics of today but also of tomorrow.

Despite increased awareness of this intrinsic link, as well as some laudable efforts over the last couple of decades, research shows nonprofits are frustratingly far from that goal.

So, how can diversity help nonprofit boards better accomplish their mission? What are nonprofit boards doing wrong in recruitment efforts? And what strategies and tactics can nonprofits employ to successfully diversify board membership?

First, it’s important to understand where nonprofit boards are today in terms of diversity. A first-of-its-kind, comprehensive national survey found that 86 percent of nonprofit board members in the United States are non-Hispanic whites. Also, more than half (51 percent) of nonprofit boards have exclusively non-Hispanic white members.

Perhaps more telling, if not alarming, is that nearly a third (32 percent) of nonprofits whose clientele are 50 percent or more Hispanic have no Hispanic board members. Let that sink in a moment. These are nonprofit organizations with a primary focus on Latinos – the nation’s largest ethnic minority group – with no Latino board members. Furthermore, greater than half of nonprofit boards (52 percent) serving clientele of 25 percent to 49 percent Hispanic also do not have any Latinos board members, according to The Urban Institute study, Nonprofit Governance in the United States: Findings on Performance and Accountability from the First National Representative Study.

Similar disparities exist for blacks, who comprise 13.2 percent of the U.S. population (with 25.8 percent nationally living below the poverty line) but make up only 7 percent of nonprofit board members. Meanwhile, non-Hispanic whites – at 77.4 percent of the U.S. population – are 84 percent of the nation’s board members.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


posted by
Brigitte Dayton
Vice President of Operations,
Catholic Community Foundation

I am a proud 2010 graduate of The American Express Leadership Academy at the ASU Lodestar Center. As such, in January, I was granted the opportunity to apply to attend the second annual American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Summit. I was selected as one of 50 network delegates from around the globe to convene in New York on April 4 and 5 to participate in a variety of workshops and panel discussions designed to enhance alumni relationships and vital leadership skills. Today I am pleased to have the occasion to fulfill my pledge to share my experience and newfound knowledge, further supporting the development of the sector’s leadership pipeline. 

What is the number one skill you think 21st century leaders need for social impact? Do you feel Cultural Intelligence (CQ) should be a core competency incorporated in hiring practices? As a graduate of any leadership program, how do you intend to carry forward and/or implement shared ideas, skills developed, resources acquired and lessons learned to benefit your community? Do you feel you have a powerful online network which appropriately reflects your industry? Are you contributing to advancing the sector’s impact on society? This is a mere sample of some of the questions and topics tackled by world class leaders and partnership organizations in our limited time together.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


posted by
Karla Lant
Lead Writer,
Museum of Science and Sustainability

Virtual meetings are part of working in 2016. Especially for smaller businesses and nonprofits, which need to do more with less, meeting virtually is a necessary evil. In order to get more out of your virtual meetings, lead proactively; know the weaknesses of the virtual meeting going in and plan ahead to mitigate their impact.

Problem: No body language means less emotion and memory

How do we know what other people mean and how they're taking what we say? In a face-to-face meeting it's body language that gives us most of this information. In a virtual meeting, we are relying on far less information, and we can't seal those memories with emotion or an understanding of the other person's intent—because we never got that from the meeting.

Bottom line: we remember less.

Solution: Put a face on it

Use video to keep your team connected. This also makes the everyday exchanges about family and health more possible. Not sure that small talk is worth using video? Consider research that shows small talk makes you smarter and creates lasting business connections. And remember that while body language communicates the most when it comes to emotion, the face is next in line for expressing emotion.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Maureen West

posted by
Maureen West
Project Manager,
Social Impact Measurement
ASU Lodestar Center

young girl holding carrot and smilingA student at Ochoa Elementary in
Tucson proudly displays her 
bounty of carrots after harvest 
day. (Photo by Nick Henry)

Edible school gardens have been popping up like summer squash over the past 20 years––and in recent years with First Lady Michelle Obama cheering them on. The idea goes back to 1995, when Alice Waters, the pioneer of the “slow food” movement and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant, created the first “edible schoolyard” in a vacant lot near the Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, California.

A nice idea? Of course. But with increased testing and heightened security, and many other demands on schools and teachers today, are gardens just a green frill, or are they a good use of a school’s time and money?

The anecdotal stories are compelling: benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the costs in the usual cherry-picked examples.

Leaders of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, who have helped 30 Tucson schools––mostly public schools in low-income areas––grow gardens through its Farm-to-Child Program, understand that happy stories don’t carry much weight in the budgeting processes of underfunded schools and don’t go far with today’s results-oriented donors. The garden program leaders are therefore collecting deeper data to measure the real impact of the gardens.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Audra Buras

posted by
Audra Buras
Chief Distribution Officer,

Millennials and post-Millennials, Generation Z, live, eat, and likely even sleep, with their phones. The word Millennial has become so overused that it sounds less like a term for a generation and more like fingernails dragging down a chalkboard. Regardless, you can’t ignore the largest generation in American history and the hours they consume media online. Plus, unlike the upcoming Generation Z, Millennials have billions of dollars to spend -- or donate.

Obviously, this makes your video content very important. I constantly hear from nonprofit organizations struggling with how to effectively leverage the attention of this digitally-immersed audience. Below are some of the primary issues I see from nonprofits when trying to tell their stories through online videos: 


Your nonprofit sells bracelets made by youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods and 100% of the proceeds go to raise awareness about polluted water for endangered species in third-world countries with evil dictatorships. Huh?!

That’s too complicated. Keep it simple.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Maureen West

posted by
Maureen West
Project Manager,
Social Impact Measurement
ASU Lodestar Center

dog with three legs wearing purple bow tie

We all know many of the reasons domestic violence victims don’t escape their abusers: fear, a sense of helplessness, and financial dependence among them. But an estimated 40 percent of domestic violence victims say that, among the ties that binds them, is their concern for what will happen to their pets if they leave them behind, as domestic violence shelters in Maricopa County generally don’t allow pets, except for service animals.

That is, until now: In 2015, the Sojourner Center in Phoenix started––as a pilot––the region’s first animal shelter to serve the pets of domestic abuse victims. The Arizona nonprofit, Lost Our Home Pet Rescue, is providing the pet care expertise for Sojourner’s project.

The shelter provides basic daily care, exercise for dogs and cats, and special accommodations for birds, fish and other family pets. The shelter is also where the animals’ owners––victims of domestic abuse––can be with their pets for the therapeutic value of companionship and for simple continuity with an old friend. In early 2016, it housed seven dogs, eight cats, two turtles and one parrot near the building where the residents stay for up to 120 days.  After the initial stay residents can move into their own apartments for as long as two years, taking their animals with them.

It seems like a self-evident solution have a shelter for pets so that more victims of domestic violence will seek help, as well as to protect animals likely to be abused if left behind. But in today’s fundraising environment “you have to prove things,” says Teri Hauser, Sojourner Center’s chief advancement officer.  “Not only do funders want evidence, but so do program staff members, who must always weigh the value of competing demands for resources.”

Sojourner Center therefore embedded an evaluation element into the new program.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Kevin Godfrey

posted by
Kevin Godfrey
Academic Advisor,
Rio Salado Community College

Adjunct Professor,
Grand Canyon University 

Fundraising is an undeniable part of the nonprofit sector, particularly for 501(c)(3) public charities. Like it or not, money is the fuel of the economy in a capitalist system. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics at The Urban Institute, 2013 saw $1.74 trillion in total revenue for the nonprofit sector. Roughly 21% of this came from gifts, donations, and grants, while 79% came from fees, contracts, and other revenue streams. In short, almost a quarter of the sector’s revenue comes from fundraising.

According to the 2014 Giving USA Report, 72% of all giving is done by individuals. This means that the quarter of the nonprofit sector’s revenue that comes from fundraising is mostly made up of contributions from individual donors. According to the US Census Bureau, 73.4% of all households reported having high-speed internet access. In every age category, over 50% of households have high-speed internet access. Even in states where the amount of people with high-speed internet access is lower than the national average, at least 62.3 percent of people have high-speed internet, with at least 80% owning a computer. According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of online adults use Facebook. Over 80% of all adults under 50 use social networking sites of some kind.

The reality of the age we live in is that the internet is here to stay. Younger generations have been raised with it and on it. It has become the way we get news, the way we entertain ourselves, the way we communicate, and, in many ways, the way we do business. The nonprofit sector must take heed to proceed carefully, as more and more of our fundraising begins to happen online. The days of major donors being completely cultivated and stewarded online are not here by any means. But the days of these donors only having knowledge of, and contact with your organization through personal face-to-face interaction are long gone. The internet has become a vital tool in our nonprofit fundraising arsenal, and as such we must move forward with gusto in this area.

As we move forward, we have to make sure that we do so in a way that allows our fundraising online to be reliable and sustainable. If we do not, we run the risk of damaging our donor base and running out the potential for funds. Organizations would be wise to heed the following recommendations as they begin to utilize internet-based fundraising.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


posted by
Megan Norton
Graduate Student,
ASU Master of Nonprofit 
Leadership & Management 

The contemporary nonprofit sector exists within a shifting landscape of complex social problems, innovative technologies, and the growth of grassroots efforts. In order to be successful in effectively addressing social ills, nonprofit organizations must learn to utilize a network strategy of collaboration amongst diverse stakeholders to create true social impact. While there are many benefits related to a network-centric framework, including access to new and diverse perspectives, networked resources, and mobilized, coordinated action, there are also barriers to effective networking that can arise, such as collective preconditions, substantive uncertainty, and competition within the network. By utilizing four key strategies of involving diverse stakeholders, creating a backbone infrastructure, developing shared terminology and measurement indicators, and promoting collective action, organizations can find success in effective networking and produce meaningful social change.

  1. Involving diverse stakeholders – Stakeholders must have a vision and goals that are aligned with that of the network, and efforts must be taken to involve diverse cross-sector groups, including those from private and corporate foundations, community advocacy groups, grassroots organizations, businesses, government entities and other related nonprofit organizations of various sizes, etc. These stakeholders should exist across all levels, from the CEO to the equally important community member, with lived experience of the issue at hand. Nonprofits may choose to involve the public through technological venues such as e-mail, text messaging, and social networking platforms. They can also tap into existing social networks for greater involvement and create opportunities for interested parties to come together and discuss important issues. Mindful and creative development of this network of invested individuals and groups will create an environment of trust and mutual support that will lead to greater collective impact.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stacey Romanotto

posted by
Stacey Romanotto
Graduate Student,
ASU Master of Nonprofit
Leadership & Management 

There is a saying among fundraising professionals that proposal writing is both an art and a science. The art aspect refers to how well an inspired writer describes a project and the grant-seeking organization. The science aspect refers to the comprehension of the technical structure upon which those words are arranged” (Blanchard & Bullock, 2010).

Grant funding can be a great way for a nonprofit to boost its revenue, with giving by corporations and foundations in the United States in 2013 amounting to $67 billion. Many nonprofit organizations are active in the grants marketplace, seeking funding to support their programs and operations; but with the number of nonprofit organizations on the rise over the last decade, the competition for funding has become more intense. Grant seekers must find ways for their proposals to stand out among the rest.

While many nonprofits give much attention to fundraising and grant writing, they often place less emphasis on supporting areas – such as planning and budgeting – that can improve the likelihood that a grant request will be funded, as well as lead to further financial stability of their organization. It is not always enough for an organization to write an amazing grant proposal. While that may help to win grants from some funders, other funders will want to take a more in-depth look into the organization and the program before awarding funds.

Some of the most common errors with grant proposals as identified from the perspective of the grant reviewer are:

  1. Poorly planned projects, goals, and outcomes.
  2. Unclear and unconvincing project descriptions.
  3. Poorly developed evaluation plans.
  4. Vague or poorly developed budget.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tyson Downs

posted by
Tyson Downs
Owner, Titan Web Agency

Nonprofit organizations rely on a strong base of volunteers. Getting people behind a cause is not particularly difficult, but learning to harness the energy of your nonprofit’s mission can take some work. The following tips will help you gain, manage and inspire volunteers for any nonprofit. 

1. Follow-Through: 
When someone expresses interest in volunteering for your organization, make sure that it is followed-through with immediately by you or a member of your staff. Urge the person along by either email or calling them a.s.a.p. If they don’t get back to you within a week, call to re-express your need for their time.

2. Shower Volunteers with Recognition:

You basically cannot say thank you enough to volunteers. Let them know often how much you appreciate them putting in their time and effort towards progressing the mission of your nonprofit.

3. Discuss How Their Contribution Helps:
Often volunteers may feel jaded that their efforts aren’t making much of a difference. Let them know exactly what their contribution does for your organization.  

4. Know What Volunteers You Need:

To get the most out of your volunteers, make sure to know what type of volunteer services you need to achieve the long and short term goals for your nonprofit.


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