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Monday, July 31, 2017

Roeckner headshot

posted by
Alexis Roeckner
Spring 2017 Graduate Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management 

Nonprofit organizations are among the strongest bridges that connect global problems with solutions. The world needs effective organizations to carry out programs that are beneficial to society.  

While devotion to a cause will lift the wings of a solution, an organization must guide and oversee its growth if it is to ever take flight. In other words, the effectiveness of the charitable work ultimately falls to how the nonprofit is governed.

The question then turns to this: how can nonprofits structure their governance based on their organizational and lifecycle needs? Research has shown that organizational competence, or lack thereof, is linked to board of director performance (Brown & Iverson, 2004, p. 378) (Brown, 2005, p. 330) (Bradshaw, 2009, p. 62). Challenging as it may seem, the payoff that comes from structuring governance according to organizational and lifecycle needs is well worth the time and effort.

The strength of the nonprofit sector lies within the ability to channel passion into effective action and the ability to use governance as a tool to ensure long-lasting change. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dargus headshot

posted by
Christy Dargus
Spring 2017 Graduate Alumna,
ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

There is a glaring lack of diversity within the nonprofit sector and philanthropic community that harms not only minority communities but nonprofit institutions themselves. Research shows people from diverse groups create novel solutions, introduce different thinking patterns and increase performance, creativity and innovation within an organization (Chandler, 2016).  

Defining how an organization thinks about diversity is a critical starting point because it can be used to describe differences of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic standing, and physical or developmental disability within a group of people. Racial diversity within the nonprofit sector is becoming increasingly important as evidenced by the prediction that by the year 2042, minorities will overtake the majority population in the United States (D5, 2015). This reality is contrasted against the statistics of the philanthropic community and the nonprofit sector in general which remains mostly white: as 79 percent of the foundation workforce and 91percent of the CEOs and Presidents identify as white (see figure below) (D5, 2015). The traditional power dynamics created between philanthropy, nonprofit organizations and the community beneficiaries of the nonprofit work is imbalanced. Such that, philanthropy holds the greatest reward power and nonprofits assert more control over the communities they serve (Spilka, Figueredo & Kioukis, 2014). The question  then is how to harness the energy and resources of philanthropy to balance the power within the sector and promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Christopher Chappell headshot

posted by
Christopher Chappell
Spring 2017 Graduate Alumnus, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management 

In order to have long term fiscal sustainability, nonprofits must be considering future generations as potential donors and supporters.  Baby Boomers and Generation X have fiscally supported nonprofits for decades, now Millennials are the next generation that must be courted.  They have a different approach and outlook on life than previous generations, as such traditional marketing and fundraising techniques will be less effective.  It is crucial for nonprofit organizations to understand what motivates this generation and to add millennial strategy to their marketing plans.  Nonprofits must stay on top of social media trends and create engaging experiences for millennials in order to capture their loyalty.  According to a PEW Research Poll, millennials now make up the majority of the US labor force.  (PEW, 2015) As time goes on, this generation will accumulate more wealth and become increasingly more critical for nonprofits to pursue as a revenue source.  In a 2012 report, the National Chamber Foundation cited that Millennials have approximately “$200 billion of direct purchasing power and $500 billion of indirect spending.”  The study then goes on to claim that “With Millennials’ peak buying power still decades away, marketers would do well to establish relationships with this consumer force.” (National Chamber Foundation, 2012)  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Brenna Paes headshot

posted by
Brenna Paes
Spring 2017 Graduate Alumna,
ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Many nonprofit organizations rely on individual giving as a primary source of income to carry out their missions. People have been giving to charity through time, money, or in kind gifts for centuries and beyond. The act of charitable giving is here to stay, but the nature of giving is constantly evolving with generations. 

Although every donor is different, research has been conducted to determine commonalities among generational giving. Younger generations typically respond best to text messages, email and social media while older generations respond best to voice calls and direct mail (Lai, 2015). In addition, “60% of Millennials and 50% of Gen Xers want to see directly the impact of their donations, while just 37 percent of Baby Boomers say seeing a direct impact matters to them” (Hartnett & Matan, 2014). Sustainable growth in the nonprofit sector relies on effective donor engagement, stewardship and retention. And yet, alarmingly, only 34 percent of nonprofit organizations say they tailor solicitations and communications with donors to their age (Hall, 2015). Nonprofit leaders must understand donor motivations to effectively target and retain donors before it is too late.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kayla Moulder headshot

posted by
Kayla Moulder
Spring 2017 Graduate Alumna,
ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

In the 2015 Nonprofit Finance Fund Report, 23 percent of nonprofits reported operating in deficit and 29 percent reported break-even finances (Nonprofit Finance Fund, 2015). These reports expose a need for short and long-term strategic planning in order to establish financial security (Leroux, 2005). To avoid operating in deficit, the gold standard, historically, has been to use “revenue diversification”. However, effectively diversifying revenue is more effective than playing a “numbers game”. Nonprofits can no longer use revenue diversification as fail-proof-safety; the more sources of revenue an organization maintains does not imply greater stability. 

The only solution to an uncertain funding environment is to “get ahead” of the seemingly stagnate competition curve by creating an uncontested market (Harrison & Thornton, 2014). From this, the writer predicts the growth of entrepreneurship and philanthropy in the future of nonprofits. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tyler Adams headshot

posted by
Tyler Adams
Spring 2017 Graduate Alumnus, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

“Capacity building is whatever is needed to bring a nonprofit to the next level of operational, programmatic, financial, or organizational maturity, so it may more effectively and efficiently advance its mission into the future. Capacity building is not a one-time effort to improve short-term effectiveness, but a continuous improvement strategy toward the creation of a sustainable and effective organization” (National Council of Nonprofits, 2017). For many organizations, capacity building would fall into the “overhead” category. Unfortunately for the nonprofit sector, higher overhead costs are correlated to an organization being irresponsible with its finances, ineffective, unable to carry out its mission, and even unethical. 

Overhead is defined as a “percentage of a charity’s expenses that goes to administrative and fundraising costs” (Guidestar, 2014). The Overhead Myth is created when donors believe that nonprofits should keep these overhead expenses below a certain percentage of the nonprofit’s total expenditures – usually no more than 15 to 20 percent. In Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk, he discusses the Overhead Myth and how it can negatively affect nonprofits by hindering their ability to create long-term sustainable growth. Both internal and external stakeholders need to be better informed about why it is okay for overhead costs to be higher when the organization is trying to grow, become sustainable, and ultimately achieve its mission more effectively. Looking at overhead alone is a poor way to measure a nonprofit organization’s overall performance (Letter to the Donors of America, 2014). Therefore, other factors such as program performance, governance structure, staff professionalism, fundraising efficiency, and other practices should be considered as part of the bigger picture

Monday, June 12, 2017

Alisa Headshot

posted by
Alisa Partlan
Spring 2017 Graduate Alumna,
ASU Master of Nonprofit 
Leadership & Management

As nonprofit professionals, we all want to impact the greatest possible number with our work. For many, this means expanding programs, or “scaling up.”

 “Today, there may be no idea with greater currency in the social sector than ‘scaling what works’” (Bradach, 2010, p. ix). Just because a program works well on its current scale, however, does not mean that it will automatically be successful on a larger scale. For nonprofits seeking to expand their programs, careful analysis of self and environment are crucial. Ask the following questions:

 Why should the program scale up?

What type of impact is the program making, and is it one that can be most effectively increased by scaling up this individual program? Keep in mind that many of the most complex and intractable social issues that nonprofits face can only be effectively addressed by collective impact, via collaboration among organizations or even across sectors.

 Scalable programs should be based on a strong theory of change or logic model, clearly linking program inputs to outcomes in a way that can be tested and evaluated to determine actual effectiveness. Defining and measuring social impacts, determining whether the intervention is effective and why, and being able to prove efficacy with solid evidence are important prerequisites to a decision to scale (Harris, 2010; Riddell & Moore, 2015; Roob & Bradach, 2009; Stone Foundation, 2009).

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Jessica Cruz head shot

posted by
Jessica Cruz
Fall 2017 Graduate Alumna,
ASU Master of Nonprofit 
Leadership & Management

Complex social issues are rarely solved by the individual success of a single organization. The nonprofit sector has the ability to achieve significant social change through collaboration across sectors. Cross-sector collaboration can be defined as partnerships between nonprofit, private, and government entities working together towards mutual goals to produce change (Simo & Bies, 2007). 

When the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development dropped the bombshell of defunding all but one nonprofit transitional housing provider for homeless families in Maricopa County, Arizona, the local nonprofit, private and government organizations began to scramble (Polletta, 2016). The community’s homeless housing and service providers were aware how the funding cuts would drastically eliminate transitional shelter beds within the family shelter portfolio. All sectors needed to consider what steps were essential to prevent the families in the defunded housing programs from becoming homeless again. This is an informal and episodic example where partnerships involving government, philanthropy communities and public businesses, collaborate to create a onetime task force to keep the families in need of housing, off of the streets. 

Far too often the nonprofit sector is stepping up to fill in the gaps in services because of local, state, and federal administrative failures (Simo & Bies, 2007). In order to meet complex social needs, the interdependence between people and organizations across all sectors, need to engage to solve challenging social problems (Grudinschi, et al., 2013).  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Farr Headshot

posted by
Hailey Farr
Spring 2017 Graduate Alumna,
ASU Master of
Nonprofit Leadership &

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) holds the power to make a significant difference for nonprofits and corporations around the world. The partnership between a corporation and nonprofit can be extremely complex and vary in participation, outcome and more, year by year. As corporate social responsibility becomes integrated into the framework of society, best practices need to be in place to successfully unify the collaboration between the public and private sectors. Nonprofit organizations and corporations need to work together and trust one another in order to make the largest impact possible for the populations they intend to serve. 

CSR should not be created solely to follow the trend and please stakeholders. These partnerships balance on a delicate scale between two sectors, which means that these cross-sector collaborations need to balance the needs of one another while accomplishing goals for the community. There is a significant need for improved social partnership which can withstand economic turmoil (Frynas, 2005, p. 581). CSR faces not only economic challenges, but also the challenge to be a successful partner with a nonprofit for long-term improvement (Lantos, 2001, p. 32). When economic giving for corporations may not be consistent over time, nonprofits need to find other ways to encourage corporations to support these pivotal partnerships (Lantos, 2001, p. 40). Examining current corporate social responsibility structures, determining areas for improvement, and creating management solutions to be applied throughout the nonprofit sector will assist in reviewing this problem.

Monday, May 15, 2017

posted by
Abby Elsener
Fall 2016 Graduate Alumna, 
ASU Master of Nonprofit
Leadership & Management

The blurring lines between government, nonprofit and for-profit sectors have led to innovative vehicles to fund interventions that address society’s most intractable problems. Social impact bonds (SIBs), also known as pay for success programs, are not actually bonds. They are a way for the private sector to finance social interventions with an acute focus on achieving results. The Vera Institute (2015) offers this definition of social impact bonds: “In a social impact bond, private investors fund an intervention through an intermediary organization—and the government repays the funder only if the program achieves certain goals, which are specified at the outset of the initiative and assessed by an independent evaluator.” 

There are less than 40 known SIBs across the globe (Gustaffson-Wright et al, 2016). Despite this small sample size and lack of evidence for success, the concept has captivated politicians and Wall Street alike. In June 2016 a bipartisan bill passed the House of Representatives to allocate $300 million for state and local SIBs over ten years (Wallace, 2015). Several prominent corporate entities, like Goldman Sachs, have launched SIBs as part of their corporate social responsibility campaigns. These finance models rely upon nonprofits to deliver their programs, yet there is a dearth of guidance for nonprofit leaders to understand the opportunities – and risks – they represent.


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