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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

posted by
Kayla L. McKinney
Project Specialist
ASU Lodestar Center

Attending this year's Annual Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness for the first time, I was really excited to see the communication between grantees and funders. The Forum, which was presented by the ASU Lodestar Center and the Arizona Grantmakers Forum, enabled the two groups to meet on equal grounds and see things from a different perspective. It was also fun for me to meet some other students who attended. They were happy to share stories about all of the great connections they were making, which, for me, showed how valuable the Forum is for a variety of nonprofit professionals.

Friday, March 18, 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.

A couple months ago, the ASU Lodestar Center released its 2010 report on Arizona Giving & Volunteering. The data were collected in the summer of 2009 by asking people to reflect on their volunteering during all of 2008. On one of the pages, amid all the charts on who volunteers and what they do, is a big banner depicting the following result: "33 percent of Arizona adults volunteered in 2008." One in three. The number seems high to some people and low to others. But is it right?

The main point of comparison is information on volunteering from the Current Population Survey (CPS), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It provides the basis for regular reporting on volunteerism by the Corporation for National and Community Service. For 2008, the CPS put the Arizona volunteering rate at 25 percent. One in four.

That’s a pretty big difference, between 33 and 25. The ASU Morrison Institute presents both numbers and asserts that both survey methods have strengths and weaknesses, likely leaving the true rate somewhere “between these two estimates.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

posted by
Michael Soto,
2nd Year Fellow,
Public Allies Arizona

Arizona Citizens for the Arts Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to serve my country. My mother served her country by joining the Army at the age of 18. She served at Carlisle Barracks and the Pentagon in the Women’s Army Corps during the Vietnam War. As a child I remember sneaking into her bureau to pin her Army medals on my chest and parade around like a soldier.

Her service didn’t end with the Army. She was an example for me throughout my childhood, bringing me along as she volunteered at soup kitchens, with the LDS cannery, and in the Scouts. My desire to emulate my mother through service to my country only increased as I grew older.

When I was a junior in high school, I received a recruitment call from the US Military Academy at West Point. My mother tried to hide her excitement as she handed me the phone, but her eyes lit up. What mother wouldn’t proud for their child to attend West Point?

I wasn’t able to attend West Point, nor serve in the military. I am a transgender man, and for years I thought my gender identity meant I could not serve my country. Then, one lucky day, a friend told me about Public Allies, and I realized that I could serve my country — through AmeriCorps.

Friday, March 11, 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.

Much like Robert Ashcraft's previous blog post, this is a glass "half full" or "half empty" question – for research provides evidence on both sides. Giving USA began tracking U.S. giving in 1955. Since that time, as a share of total giving, religious giving has decreased from approximately one-half of total giving to just under one-third today. However, in real dollars, religious giving is growing… slowly … by about 2 percent a year over the past 40 years. These data are provided by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University (hereafter referred to simply as "the Center") in Giving USA.

In the Center's publication, Philanthropy Matters, Executive Director Dr. Patrick Rooney tested eight myths about religious giving.[1] Some myths are upheld and some are dispelled.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

posted by
Travis Butterfield,
Project Coordinator
ASU Lodestar Center

As has previously been mentioned, the ASU Lodestar Center recently collaborated with the Arizona Grantmakers Forum to present the 13th Annual Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness, "Nonprofit Grantees & Funders: Building Strong Relationships - Assuring Community Impact." We feel that the success of this event was directly related to the active participation and shared wisdom of its attendees.

Over the next few weeks we would like to document and share some of the ideas and insights gleaned from our participants and presenters through a series of short video montages. In this way, we hope to preserve some of these important insights and observations, keeping the topic fresh and relevant, as we attempt to implement what was learned into new and innovative paradigms of the funder / grantee relationship.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Robert F. Ashcraft, Ph.D.

Executive Director
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 knowledge enterprise, the ASU Lodestar Center seeks to produce and disseminate relevant, high-quality research to our stakeholders. Whether practitioners, volunteers, or donors, we want our end-users to understand issues in ways that help them become more efficient and effective within their nonprofit organizations and across their networks of nonprofits.

Resources are a huge challenge to any research effort. High-quality nonprofit and philanthropic research requires financial investments at a level few funders are willing to support; yet these investments are a must. If our research is to be valid and useful, the design, data collection, and analysis must be meticulous and exacting.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Terri Wogan
Executive Director
Social Venture
Partners Arizona

Imagine you have just stepped onto the stage before some of the Valley's most influential leaders. A passionate social entrepreneur, you have built an innovative approach to tackling one of our toughest social issues. Your organization is on the verge of a breakthrough. The audience is bursting with other investors capable of bringing significant additional resources to fuel your expansion.

You step to the mic with three minutes to prove you are what today's donors most want nonprofits to be: focused, innovative, self-sustaining, and, above all, effective. ...It's SHOW TIME!

This is the exact scenario that eight finalists of the "Fast Pitch Social Innovation Expo" will face on March 2, but many nonprofit organizations face a similar situation all of the time. Phoenix is considered one of the most entrepreneurial communities in North America for business innovation and performance, and Valley nonprofits also are doing innovative and impactful work, creating significant social wealth. We aim to expand the network of individuals and organizations that value innovation, accountability and operational stability in top-performing nonprofits.

Friday, February 25, 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.

Oh, the high-wire balancing act of nonprofit CEO compensation. Pay your CEO too little, and you won’t attract a skilled leader. Pay too much, and you’ll raise the eyebrows (or ire) of donors, clients, volunteers, and anyone else who looks up your 990 in one keystroke. And should a nonprofit really go over the top with CEO pay, the IRS will come knocking at the door.

What’s an impact-driven nonprofit organization to do? Two things come to mind. First, consult the research and data available on nonprofit CEO compensation. Comparable compensation data helps recruitment and hiring, and protects against excessive compensation claims. For nonprofits in Maricopa and Pima counties, the latest issue of Nonprofit Research Abridged details CEO compensation across budget size and type.


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