Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sajan Devshi

posted by
Sajan Devshi
Marketing Specialist 

As a keen volunteer at our local charity, AlphaTutorials, I was tasked with helping them try to attract more students, as they were in decline every year. The charity seeks to improve the education of those in need for free, while also providing tuition for students. This is done with the help of local teachers who volunteer their time. The centre had helped me a couple of years prior, by allowing me to earn my A level Psychology, which was something I decided to do to improve my own education. It felt right that I do something to help them back.

One thing was apparent when I sat down and tried to figure out how I would help AlphaTutorials as a volunteer. I knew that the main resource we had available at our disposal was knowledge. We had qualified teachers in all the main subjects taught across the UK, from Mathematics to the sciences, and therefore it made sense to try to utilise this to our advantage somehow.

Only a few weeks prior, I had stumbled on the story of Pat Flynn, who wrote about how he had sold educational resources which proved popular when he started his website SmartPassiveIncome.

I saw no reason why we couldn’t do the same, with our goal being to funnel students to the centre, but also diversify into resources. We sat trying to understand our market and we found websites focusing on Sociology revision resources doing quite well when giving them away for free. We obviously couldn’t compete with a free product, so we decided the best subject for us would be psychology,as that was one of the most popular but underserved subjects in terms of online resources. We set up a partner website, Loopa Psychology and spent the last 12 months focusing our efforts on trying to make it more visible within the searches. Our main method of doing this was utilising our network of teachers to have schools refer students to the site or have us added among their list of recommended reading websites.

Friday, July 17, 2015

 Melanie Nathan picture
posted by
Melanie Nathan
SEO & Link Earning Strategist
Top Draw

This blog post is for nonprofit organizations and charities that are looking to increase their online exposure (without spending loads of money) so they can receive more volunteers, donations, attention etc.

Here are some tips for nonprofits to improve link earning within their online communities.

Focus on Quality Content

Link earning is building relationships with valuable websites within ones specific industry that generate high quality content.

Link earning helps improve search engine rankings and drives traffic to the website. It’s great when people share your content; it’s even better when they are real people doing it of their own accord. Quality content is the foundation and incentive for shareability.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

 Patrick McWhortor picture
posted by
Patrick McWhortor
Arizona Campaign Director
Open Primaries

In April, I left the helm of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, after ten years of building it into a force for strength and progress in serving the state’s nonprofit community. It was not easy to leave the Alliance, because I still consider the position of CEO of the Alliance to be one of the best anybody could have. To work every day with and for some of the most inspiring and passionate people dedicated to building a stronger Arizona was a dream come true. Only the opportunity I am now pursuing at Open Primaries to reform our political system could draw me away, because I know that nonprofits need a stronger partner in government in order to succeed.

So, as I made my transition – keep in mind that I am still working a nonprofit, just a c4 instead of a c3 – the moment gave me reason to reflect upon the 10 years of experience I had at the Alliance and with colleagues across the country through the National Council of Nonprofits. I first tried to remember what it was like in 2005. The economy was booming, and nonprofits were talking about creative ways to sustain themselves through social enterprise. Meanwhile, we were concerned about the huge leadership transition coming, as baby boomers, in the top positions at so many nonprofits, were heading into retirement years. And there was much talk about nonprofits running themselves more like businesses.

Wow, ten years passed, and here we are in 2015: social enterprise is the rage, the boomer retirement wave is a concern, and people are talking about nonprofits operating like businesses. Really?

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.

Problem 1: Doing Ineffective Research and Setting Unrealistic Expectations

Instead of backing into their proposal-writing process by doing effective research and setting realistic expectations for time and costs, nonprofit organizations often say, “We have this much money and want to finish the project in this much time. We want the technology to [fill in the blank], and we need to work within our meager budget with as quick a turnaround as possible.” 

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

posted by 
Mark Hager, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, 
ASU School of Community 
Resources & Development

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.


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