Wednesday, April 27, 2011

posted by
Sarah Hipolito
Program Coordinator, Senior
ASU Lodestar Center

If I've learned anything in my brief six years, 10 months, and 27 days of marriage, it's that, in addition to love, communication is key in growing and maintaining a good relationship. Funny thing is, I learned the exact same thing in just one day while attending the ASU Lodestar Center's 2011 Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness. Well, we all care deeply for the missions of our organizations and those we serve — you might even call that "love." But, without good communication, we may fall short of our goals. With keynote speakers Travis Manzione (Director of Assessment Tools for The Center for Effective Philanthropy) and Charles Best (Founder and CEO of, and a panel representing local nonprofits and funders (including Ear Candy, Phoenix Youth at Risk, SRP, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust), you could not miss the message: Ongoing communication between grantees and funders is an absolute must.

Friday, April 22, 2011

posted by
Mark Hager, Ph.D.

Associate Professor,

ASU School of Community
Resources & Development

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Really, how many nonprofits are there?

Oy, such an easy question to ask. This is one of those common questions that doesn't have an easy answer. Part of the problem is that so many organizations fall under the umbrella of "nonprofit," which is a big stew of everything that isn't a government agency or registered as a business. This term includes informal and unincorporated associations that operate almost entirely off the regulatory radar screen. "Nonprofit" includes member-serving organizations, as well as the public-serving ones that we usually associate with the term. Some organizations are only known in their neighborhoods, some make themselves known only to the state, and some only keep up their federal paperwork. Often the best we can do is count within various categories and hope the number we come up with is close to how many nonprofits there actually are.

In Arizona, unincorporated associations sometimes register with the Corporation Commission or successfully apply for federal charitable exemptions. However, if they do not register with these bodies, and they do not have any employees, we won't easily know about them. They are the "dark matter" of the nonprofit universe — probably numerous, but almost always missing from our count-'em-up descriptions of nonprofit activity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

posted by
Jessica Sadoway,
Nonprofit and
Social Media Blogger

Just last Friday, The Collaboration Prize announced its third annual winner (congratulations to the Adoption Coalition of Texas!). This competition is working hard to encourage collaboration and highlight outstanding partnerships in our communities.

"Collaboration" is one of the big buzzwords in nonprofits now. It makes sense — when budgets stretch thin, it's important to maximize your resources. The Collaboration Prize itself is a joint effort by several pioneering organizations: The Lodestar Foundation has partnered with the AIM Alliance, the Foundation Center, La Piana Consulting, and other foundation and nonprofit leaders to support the 2011 Prize.

By working together, you're boosting the potential of both organizations. Two heads are better than one, right? How about three? Or five?

It's amazing how many resources are shareable. Have extra toiletries from your last donation drive? Give them to an organization that can use them. Need more volunteers for an event? Invite your friends from the nonprofit down the street to participate with their volunteers. In fact, why don't you plan the event together and make it even bigger and better? And things go on from there.

Yet it's not just about sharing supplies, funds, or even human resources. There are also hidden benefits. By working together, you're combining your reputation with theirs, and you're also incorporating their public support and branding with yours. You're sharing marketing and word-of-mouth, and we all know how valuable getting your name out there is when looking for support.

Friday, April 15, 2011

posted by
Laura L. Bush, Ph.D.,
Manager of Curriculum
Design & Innovation,

ASU Lodestar Center
Lili Wang, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor,
ASU School of Community
Resources & Development

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

A 2008 study shows that the nonprofit sector employs approximately 13 million people in the United States.[1] In the past few decades, the nonprofit workforce has become increasingly professionalized. In response to the growing needs of professional nonprofit managers, numerous university-based nonprofit management education programs have emerged, but few offer continuing education for nonprofit professionals. The ASU Nonprofit Management Institute (NMI) is one of only 56 continuing education professional development programs in the nation.[2]

To better understand the skills and knowledge needed by nonprofit professionals, we conducted a needs-assessment study based on surveys of NMI instructors, advisory board members, alumni, and participants in NMI courses since 2007. The study reveals that current leaders in the local nonprofit sector believe the skills most needed in the nonprofit workforce are financial literacy, communication (verbal and writing skills), knowledge of laws pertaining to the nonprofit sector, information technology, volunteer management, and donor cultivation. NMI students agree; however, they additionally rank high their interest in learning about strategic planning, board governance, grant writing, marketing, program evaluation, and social entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

posted by
Travis Butterfield,
Project Coordinator
ASU Lodestar Center

Ever since I worked with Laura Tan on editing her recent blog post, I have been thinking about the unintended effects that volunteer service can have. So, I was immediately interested when a link to an article titled "Good Intentions vs. Good Results" popped up on my Twitter feed. The article is actually a blog post published last week on Sean Stannard-Stockton's Tactical Philanthropy Blog. It's a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.

Stannard-Stockton referenced a video produced by "Good Intentions Are Not Enough," an online service of The Charity Rater, LLC. It is a provocative piece that really made me re-evaluate how I view disaster and humanitarian giving. I am including it here, because I felt that it was a great springboard for this post.

I don't think it's possible to watch this video without feeling a strong mixture of emotions. One can't help asking whether the charitable gifts one has given are fundamentally flawed, and are actually having little or no positive impact. It's horrifying to think that something so well-intentioned as charitable shoe/clothing donations could actually cause more harm than good.

Friday, April 8, 2011

posted by Pat Lewis,
Senior Professional
in Residence
ASU Lodestar Center

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Recent research indicates some of the many myths about women as donors are "busted." Perhaps you have heard some of them:

  • Women don't give large gifts.
  • Women prefer to remain anonymous.
  • Women's giving is emotional rather than business-focused.

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University recently distributed the results of a 2010 study, and all of the above were proven false. Let's take a closer look at the findings.

The report cites recent single gifts from women in excess of $25 million. Additionally, the report cites the participation of 100 women in a specific 2008-09 campaign, which generated $141 million with a minimum gift of $1 million. Women are named, directly or as part of a couple, in two-thirds of the gifts on the Center's Million Dollar List.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

posted by
Kayla L. McKinney
Project Specialist
ASU Lodestar Center

So, I'll admit it. I have a rough time donating to nonprofits. At this point in my life, I only give money to one nonprofit organization, and I do that through automatic monthly payments, with little thought at all to the whole process. I always have excuses -- I'm too busy! I'm a grad student! I'll get it together and shape up next month!

But what if I did make it a priority? What if I decided that, every single day, I'd devote a little bit of time and a little bit of a care to a different nonprofit organization? Well, that’s just what Carlo Garcia did.

In 2010, Carlo made a commitment - to give to a different charity each day for an entire year. That's 365 charities in 365 days. A native Chicagoan, Carlo cites many reasons for his journey on his blog. He explains, "I thought to myself, it's not important how much you give, as long as you give on a regular basis. So, I decided I am going to dedicate myself to giving every day for a year and documenting my journey, so that others may be able to follow and if they feel inspired, take on their own mission of giving. I also believe that we as youth generations need to become the leaders of a new movement of philanthropy. It is our responsibility to set the standards of giving for future generations."

And he's certainly got the right idea. Carlo's mission made me step back and rethink my own approach. How am I impacting my community, and why am I so gosh darn lazy when it comes to helping out local nonprofits?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stephanie La Loggia, M.A.

Manager of Knowledge Resources
ASU Lodestar Center

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

As a charitable donor, I've become so fickle it's almost embarrassing. I like to be informed of what the organization is doing, but I don't want mail solicitations. I don't mind administrative spending, but I bristle at high fundraising costs. And I tell my students that I'll give to any of the worthy causes they pour their hearts into, but they have to ask me in person (not on Facebook)! That's my list, and you probably have yours — I say that because, as the research tells us, charitable giving is driven by a host of individual motivations and preferences.

When we investigate motivations for charitable giving, we aren't only concerned with what motivates a donor to write the first check to a charitable organization, but also what inspires them to become a regular, ongoing donor. An important aspect of this is the opposite question: why do people stop making donations?

In our recent Arizona Giving and Volunteering* research, we asked respondents if they could recall a decision to stop giving to an organization they had previously supported. A fairly high percentage — 30% — said yes. From a list of possible reasons, there was a clear number one answer: lack of connection. 65% said that the reason they stopped supporting the nonprofit was because they no longer felt connected to the organization.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

posted by
Laura E. Tan
Public Allies Arizona
Program Manager
ASU Lodestar Center

As I've done every March for the past four years, I participated as a Team Leader in United Way's Alternative Spring Break (ASB) in the metro Washington D.C. area. ASB is a great opportunity for college students who choose to spend their spring breaks volunteering in communities across the country. Since 2006, nearly 2,000 students have participated in ASB, volunteering over 64,000 hours of service.

For part of this year's ASB service, my group got to work at an after-school program for at-risk kids, ages 5-11, to help them with their homework. Our team noticed that many of the older kids struggled with basic reading and math concepts, even though they are at an age when fundamentals should be well established. We were only at Beacon House for four short days, but after working hard with the kids, many of us got attached to our new friends.

One of the participants in my group, Shelina, formed a particularly close bond with an 11-year-old girl who, for privacy reasons, I will call Zee. At the beginning of the week, Zee told Shelina that she wanted to be a hairdresser when she grows up. After observing the girl's clear talent at math and science throughout the week, Shelina encouraged her to think about other careers that would make use of her skills. By the end of the week, inspired by Shelina's support, Zee began to consider the possibilities of being a math teacher or a fashion designer.

On Thursday, as they hugged goodbye, Zee had a particularly hard time letting go of Shelina, both figuratively and literally. As Shelina detangled herself from her, Zee wailed, "Why do you have to leave?"

Friday, March 25, 2011

posted by
Angela Francis
Senior Associate
Nonprofit Finance Fund

Welcome to Research Friday! For this week’s post, we welcome Angela Francis from Nonprofit Finance Fund to discuss NFF’s recently released State of the Sector survey findings. We've had a great response thus far to Research Friday, our weekly series on nonprofit research. We welcome your comments, feedback and suggestions!

Nonprofit Finance Fund recently completed its third annual "State of the Nonprofit Sector" survey with the help of nearly 2,000 nonprofit leaders nationwide. Respondents came from large organizations and small, and from all sub-sectors, and include a small sample from Arizona.

Since we started this undertaking in 2009, we've heard each year that demand is on the rise, and that remains the expectation for 2011. To meet this growing demand—which comes on top of each previous year's increases—nonprofit managers continue to be resourceful in their efforts to balance mission, capacity, and capital. From collaboration to cost management, nonprofits are trying to protect their (precious little) infrastructure and enterprise while serving even more people.

This balancing act becomes increasingly difficult when organizations experience upheaval—whether due to a recession, the loss of a funding source, or unexpected expenses. Yet even smaller changes, such as a program expansion, can quickly overwhelm a nonprofit operating on paper-thin margins with no cushion to absorb the risks and expenses associated with growth. In Arizona, 35% of our survey respondents reported having less than 1 month of cash on hand (10% had none), which is fairly consistent with results nationally.


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