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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

posted by
Cordelia House
Spring 2019 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Many organizations in the nonprofit sector rely on the help of volunteers. Whether this is in office work, stocking inventory or helping to prepare for an event, the volunteers are a highly valuable asset. Skilled volunteers are a special type of volunteer. These volunteers are individuals who volunteer in the capacity of their everyday work or with skills that they are specifically trained in. The difference between a skilled volunteer and a non-skilled volunteer is that skilled volunteers have education, training or abilities that a volunteer from the general population would not have. Often times the skilled volunteer also has skill sets and trainings that most paid staff within the nonprofit do not have. For this reason, skilled volunteers are highly valuable - and as such managing them effectively is essential. 

 Aaron Hurst, founder of the Taproot Foundation, notes that skilled volunteers are essential to helping nonprofits become self-sustaining and they help the nonprofit put forth the biggest impact in the communities they serve. Hurst also explains that nonprofits from a wide variety of backgrounds are looking for skilled volunteers to help their organizations stay active and to grow from good to great in the community. The skilled volunteers provide opportunities for the organization to acquire help and labor that they would not normally be able to afford. According to Scott Chin, president of the Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, without the dedicated dentists, chefs and lawyers that offer their education and training as skilled volunteers, some of their programs would cease operation. Chin also notes that skilled volunteers are an essential component to the nonprofit and that the skilled volunteers fill roles that would otherwise be empty due to restricted budgets. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

posted by
Samira Amin
Class 13 Public Ally

Public Allies Arizona’s 13th class will graduate on June 28, the completion of a 10-month AmeriCorps program that places emerging young leaders at local nonprofits for full-time paid apprenticeships. (Find out how you can get involved as an Ally or a Partner Organization.) In this post, meet Class 13 Ally Samira Amin, who was placed at Mesa Arts Center Foundation.

“A leader must lead, but also be ready to follow. They must be aggressive, but not overbearing. A leader must be calm, but not robotic. They must be confident, but never cocky. A leader must be brave, but not foolhardy. They must have a competitive spirt, but be a gracious loser.” –Jocko Willink

Why did you want to join Public Allies?

 I was seeking an opportunity to gain experience in community development. What made me want to join Public Allies was learning the skills to develop and grow as a leader, which I knew would benefit me personally and professionally. After receiving my bachelor's degree, I knew I needed guidance to figure out what direction I could head in with the skills I have.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

posted by
Tomasa Ravines Burga
Fall 2018 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Apple, Google and Starbucks all are famous brands in the for-profit sector. Goodwill, AmeriCorps and Girl Scouts are good examples in the nonprofit sector. These are big ones, with big brands. But what about most nonprofits, without national recognition? There are more than one million nonprofits in the U.S. Why is building a strong brand important for them? 

There are some remarkable authors, like Peter Frumkin, who consider that a nonprofit brand is the principal asset of the organization. An effective brand can be a positive influence on an organization’s assets (human and financial). It can impact their capacities to achieve goals, their social impact and their missions. 

A strong brand is important because it facilitates opportunities, resources and results. These nourish the brand to attract more funding, helping the organization become stronger and more successful. Professors Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone state that a strong brand is critical to attracting donors and key stakeholders.  

Additionally, having effective branding benefits nonprofits in other ways, such as credibility, authority, recognition and consistency. It helps nonprofits maintain a good reputation with stakeholders. Matthew Schwartz, the founder and executive director of Constructive, stated that an effective brand helps organizations earn trust, increase loyalty, develop new opportunities and strengthen organizational leadership. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

posted by
Catherine Friederich Murray
Spring 2019 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

A windfall is fabulous, right? After all, what nonprofit leader wouldn’t want to walk into work one Monday morning to find a pile of money, an unexpected gift, on their doorstep? Think of all that you could do with those extra funds—give your hard-working staff a well-deserved raise, pay off your organization’s debt, replace your cobbled-together computer systems, serve 10 times the number of clients whom you served last month, even provide the employee training and education that you’ve deferred for the past decade. In reality, however, a windfall is often accompanied by a unique set of challenges. Take for example what happened to Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a small nonprofit that has been serving immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Texas for decades. 

One Monday morning in June 2018, RAICES’ CEO, Jonathon Ryan, awakened to find an email message notifying him that his organization was the recipient of a fundraising campaign to reunite asylum-seeking families who had been separated at the border. The timing was fortuitous, as he had recently learned that the federal government was canceling the primary source of RAICES’ funding, contracts to assist unaccompanied minors with legal representation during their immigration hearings. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

posted by
JeKaren Olaoya
Spring 2019 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Have you ever gone through the process of baking a cake from scratch? Pulling out all the ingredients, measuring everything, mixing, scraping the sides of the bowl, mixing again? Pouring the batter into the pan, sliding it into the oven and then just when it begins to rise a little, pull it out of the oven? Before it’s done? No? That is what diversity is without inclusion, a half-baked cake. A cake that will not stand on its own, that would probably make you sick if you tried to eat it. 

How then, can we expect diversity, one-half of a process, to be enough to keep organizations sustainable and relatable? Diversity is great for getting many different experiences and voices in the same room, but inclusion is making sure they all have what they need to be successful. That process would look like hiring someone in a wheelchair but not installing ramps that would make getting inside the building easier or hiring someone who is Muslim but not providing a private, quiet space for prayer. The old method of introducing diversity with outdated trainings and threats for non-compliance have proven to not work well, so what is the new way?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

posted by
Iyamidé May
Class 13 Public Ally

Public Allies Arizona’s 13th class will graduate in June, the completion of a 10-month AmeriCorps program that places emerging young leaders at local nonprofits for full-time paid apprenticeships. (Find out how you can get involved as an Ally or a Partner Organization.) In this post, which appeared in condensed form at, meet Class 13 Ally Iyamidé May  , who was placed at Experience Matters .

What were you doing before you enrolled in Public Allies? What drew you to Public Allies?

Before Public Allies I was working as a program manager for an environmental & infrastructure company in the disaster management sector.

What drew me to Public Allies was that it was an answer to a prayer; my life had been centralized around pursuing more, doing more, being more--all related to being “successful”- well at least my perceived ideas of what success looked like by societal standards. I reached a pinnacle point in my life, where I felt empty in the midst of being busy and full of tasks. I was yearning for something that could cause me to grow into more of a servant leader, to be selfless, to pour out the love that overflows from within my heart and to really be stretched to expand in humility. The leadership development and building capacity focus within the Public Allies description pulled me right in.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

posted by
Shannon Harrell
Fall 2018 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Unlike for-profits, nonprofits must do more with less. With limited people and financial resources, leaders of nonprofit organizations must execute strong management styles that develop the talent of their teams, foster healthy working environments and encourage retention of valuable employees. While the definition of a high-performing team varies based on outcomes desired, subsector and performance metrics, they typically embody five key characteristics: “a shared, meaningful, and clearly understood purpose or vision, requisite talent to be successful in accomplishing the purpose, interdependent team members, accountability and support among team members and a high level of mutual trust among all team members.” 

There are no shortcuts to cultivating such teams, but best practices involve hiring with intention, motivating performance and retaining top talent. In an article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Monisha Kapila says, “The nonprofit sector is known for underinvesting in talent. From low compensation to lack of training, the pursuit of minimal overhead has resulted in anemic spending on human capital.”

 Budgetary constraints shaped by charity watchdog organizations also impose limits that encourage decreasing administrative costs in order to increase program costs, which may impact nonprofits from devoting funds to human resources management. However, limited and dated understandings of financial decisions can have disastrous effects on a nonprofit’s mission and impact. Leaders must understand that they cannot afford not to invest in talent development. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

posted by
Channtal Polanco 
Class 13 Public Ally

Public Allies Arizona’s 13th class will graduate in June, the completion of a 10-month AmeriCorps program that places emerging young leaders at local nonprofits for full-time paid apprenticeships. (Find out how you can get involved as an Ally or a Partner Organization.) In this post, which appeared in condensed form at, meet Class 13 Ally Channtal Polanco, who was placed at Opportunities for Youth.

What were you doing before you enrolled in Public Allies? What drew you to Public Allies?

Prior to Public Allies I was a first-generation college student pursuing my Associate of Arts (AA) degree at Phoenix College, working part-time with the City of Phoenix Head Start and being a mother to my wonderful child.

What drew me to Public Allies were many things, one being that I’ve had the opportunity to meet alums who spoke highly of Public Allies Arizona. I have known about Public Allies for quite some years but was, in a way, hesitant to make the commitment knowing I had a child to support and all the unknowns that may have come with Public Allies. After a while working in my community and serving, I yearned to continue to grow and be challenged. I had high hopes that joining Public Allies would renew my thinking, challenge and grow me in ways I haven’t been in the past. I was ready for leadership development and be equipped to make lasting change within my community.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

posted by
Chelsea Poch
Fall 2018 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Peer-to-peer fundraising events started nearly 50 years ago with events such as the March of Dimes’ fundraiser that has come to be known as March for Babies. Over time, the field of peer-to-peer fundraising events grew and developed.

A wave of walk events was followed by 5Ks, cycling events and many other types of events to raise funds from a network of peers.

 But are these events’ best days behind them? The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty shares that the top 30 events across the nation have been on an overall steady decline, though not all events in the top 30 have seen a decline.

This idea of decline can make it seem as though peer-to-peer fundraising is no longer effective, though this type of fundraising continues to bring benefit to nonprofits. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

posted by
Sadhna Bokhiria 
Class 11 American Express Leadership Academy
Chief Operating Officer of Kapoor Foundations

Prior to the ASU Lodestar Center’s American Express Leadership Academy, I was somewhat of an education junkie. With the ability to take classes online from some of the most prominent institutions in the world, I was enrolled in tons of classes and getting a lot of great education. But I greatly missed the human element and learned quickly that you can’t replace face-to-face interaction.

Learning from others is ingrained in our DNA and is nothing short of crucial. Research from Harvard Business Review shows that learning happens best when learners collaborate and help one another. And yet, according to an April 2019 HBR study titled, Educating the Next Generation of Leaders, “the most difficult skills to teach, measure, or even articulate are leading, communicating, relating, and energizing groups,” all of which require collaborative learning environments, individual coaching and personalized learning plans.

When I started the program with American Express Leadership Academy, I was not sure what to expect, but our first day single-handedly set the tone for the incredible 10 months ahead. We started by diving into our individual Emergenetics profiles with expert and incredible leadership coach Dr. Kevin Patterson. This tool allowed me to better identify my natural strengths while training me on how to build the most effective teams based on their individual strengths.

I realized that too often leaders are approaching employees with the stern “Why don’t you know how to do this?” versus focusing on what they do well and what intrinsically motivates them.  Emergenetics taught me how to strategically formulate teams where individuals are placed in roles that allow them to thrive.


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