Monday, July 2, 2018

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

 What we know: The new tax law’s influence on charitable giving is a topic of lively discussion, and multiple projections of negative impact have been made. Not everyone fears the effect of the change, with some believing it will put more cash into the economy and actually boost charitable giving. The nonprofit sector will not know the full implications until after year-end, but it is in the best interests of organizations to proactively consider the tax changes in their operations. The ASU Lodestar Center’s two Professionals in Residence, Pat Lewis and Anne Byrne, weigh in with their differing perspectives and advice for nonprofit organizations. For more information on the likely impact of the new tax law, click here.

Perspective 1:

Yes, we are now undergoing significant changes to tax law changes that impact individuals in new ways. For those of us engaged in the world of philanthropy, there is a lot of head scratching going on. Will people have more funds to give because of the significant increase in the standard deduction? Will those with moderate giving patterns have less to give because of the $10,000 cap on state and local income and property taxes? Will those with significant estates and high annual incomes give more because of their greater access to deductibility of their charitable gifts? 

Monday, June 25, 2018

posted by
Danielle Connolly
Spring 2018 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

In today’s day and age, it’s no longer a question of “Should we use social media?”, but rather “How can we use social media to achieve our mission?”. Organizations cannot afford to post randomly, without strategically thinking about what they post, where they post it, how or if they are engaging followers, and what they are aiming to achieve or gain from every post. To make matters trickier, many nonprofits do not have a social media team, or even a social media person. To get the most out of every post, there are some key components organizations should consider and implement. 

To whom are you speaking?

The first step would be to think before you post; whom are you trying to reach, and what are you trying to get out of them? If you are unclear on these questions, then you are posting blindly and will have no way to measure whether or not your time and energy spent on social media is paying off. Think of the target population, and then you can strategize on what kind of content that population will be interested in.

Social Media Capital

The next step in creating an effective social media strategy is to build your social media capital, or the, “social resources in an organization’s social media network that can be accumulated, mobilized, and expended to achieve organizational outcomes,” according to an article by Guo and Saxton. . Organizations need to do more than just collect mass followers, because while followers are important, the number of followers alone does not equate success. Remember, it has been shown that, “[w]hen stakeholders are engaged in social media platforms, they may be more likely to engage with the organization in other ways,” according to an article by Carboni and Maxwell . Organizations need to build and strengthen relationships with their followers through dialogue and interactions. These relationships can be strengthened, “through some combination of reciprocal following, through sharing and liking the users’ messages, and through mentioning and acknowledging the user in targeted social media messages." Your organization must then make a call to action to your followers. This is the “what now?” move for your organization by asking for what you need; donations, volunteers, resources, etc. Conversion is the quintessential reason for utilizing social media. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

posted by
Taylor Polen
Class 11 and Class 12 Public Ally

My name is Taylor Polen, I was born and raised in Arizona and am passionate about finding creative solutions to inspire systemic equality and opportunity for all. I graduated from high school in 2016 and had little notion of what I wanted to do with my life until I joined Public Allies.

I found the program while searching for other sources of financial aid for college and applied late despite discouragement. My first term with Public Allies and the Alzheimer's Association began as an outreach specialist in December 2016. I became a program specialist my second year with Public Allies, in October 2017. Because of this program, I have been given the opportunity and guidance to achieve my life mission to create meaningful, positive and lasting change.

“To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research: to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.”


Monday, June 11, 2018

posted by
Mamie Winkelman
Spring 2018 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

The nonprofit sector is known for the good humanitarian work it aims to provide society.  Within the sector itself exist organizations that are run with the precision of any Fortune 500 company.  But, charitable organizations in general are thought to be lagging behind their for-profit cousins in some of the more basic areas of organizational operations necessary to grow and maintain healthy enterprises.  “Nonprofit organizations are as susceptible, perhaps more susceptible, to financial problems and insolvency than their for-profit counterparts,” according to Mark Melickian in " A guide for nonprofit organizations: Bankruptcy issues. " 

 With the complex arena that nonprofit organizations have chosen to be accountable for, it is imperative that healthy business practices become sector standards in order to ensure that necessary services do not disappear due to avoidable mismanagement.

Additional motivators beyond service commitment exist for nonprofit organizations to tighten up operational procedures. Weerawardena, McDonald, and Mort  credit increased opportunity of for-profit businesses to offer what was once largely nonprofit services, and the sheer number of charitable organizations chasing the same dollars, as two of the primary reasons for this emerging issue in "Journal of World Business."  “These changes have forced NPOs [nonprofit organizations] to adopt strategies aimed at building viable, sustainable organizations in order to continue to pursue their social mission."  Nonprofit organizations are being faced with the more competitive reality in which successful fundraising campaigns are no longer the answer for poor operational practices.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Seth Cothrun

posted by
Seth Cothrun
Class 9, American Express Leadership Academy at the ASU Lodestar Center

I recently returned from New York City, where I was able to spend two incredible days with 72 fellow global nonprofit leaders selected to attend the fourth annual American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit. The theme of the summit was Leadership in Times of Transition. This year's summit featured a special livestream conversation with Angela Fernandez, Esq., executive director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and Dan Parks, managing editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. They discussed leadership in times of transition, and how our sector can be effective under current conditions. You can watch the archived version of the conversation here, and I highly encourage anybody, whether you work in the nonprofit sector or not, do so.

Rather than spend time telling you what they said and why it’s important – thanks to modern-day technology, you can learn directly from them on your train ride home (you are using mass transit, right!?) – I thought I’d talk a bit about what I have learned through transitions in my career.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

posted by
Jill Robeck
Spring 2018 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

If you research the topic of volunteer retention, you will find many lists of “best practices” or “high priority” tasks for nonprofit managers.  While these lists are valuable, and applicable to specific types of nonprofits, it is difficult to find a list that can be applied to the majority of nonprofits, regardless of mission and size.

The following list contains best practices that are easy to implement across a wide range of nonprofits.  They are also common-sense solutions, which can be easily understood and transferred into practice.  These practices are mutually beneficial to volunteers and nonprofit organizations.

1. Create Clear Job Descriptions – State the title of the position, what job duties are included, what type of environment volunteers will be working in, and the name of the person they report to.  Most importantly, state the mission of the organization, and show how the position directly contributes to the accomplishment of that mission. 

Why Is This Important? Volunteers want to know what they are getting in to before they sign on for a job.  Creating a clear, concise job description gives them a good idea of what will be required of them, and allows a chance to ask questions.  Nonprofit managers can save time and money by screening out volunteers who are not ready to commit to the task at hand.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

posted by
Damonte Johnson
Class 12 Public Ally

My story with Public Allies Arizona starts years before I even walked into a job fair and met my former program manager. For you to truly understand my impact with Public Allies, you must first allow me introduce my journey, my obstacles, and myself. You must first understand how having a village of leaders, nurturers, friends and loved ones all played a part in my journey to get this far. I was born the second oldest of six to a single mother on the north side of St. Louis, City. Where I lived, 16 family members in a three-bedroom home, mostly boys, you would think the house would be a rowdy environment. It was quite the opposite. The house was always full of love for each other, but outside the door was another story. I can still smell the lingering scent of a gun recently fired. I still feel the pangs of not eating and not being sure  when a meal would come. I remember how hard my mom had to work to provide for the household, and all of this was before my sixth birthday. 

When I joined Public Allies back in 2017, I didn’t exactly know what I was getting myself into. After meeting the strong men and women in my cohort, I knew I was a part of something special. I started working with Creighton Community Foundation, for two reasons. First, I wanted to impact the lives of the next generation through education. Second, the founder Jeff Boles, knows and lives the mission that my Godmother instilled in me, “it takes a village, to raise a child.” While working at Creighton, we worked heavily in the neighborhoods of the students who attended Gateway and Excelencia Elementary.



Monday, May 7, 2018

posted by
Jacque Ahrenberg
Senior Consultant
Rayvan Group

The one-size-fits-all mentality may work with buying a hat but it is not an effective way to attract new donors to your nonprofit. 

It is possible to diversify your revenue and bring sustainability to your organization by attracting new donors. These individual donors will want to support your organization and its mission. 

We have identified three key items that you can immediately implement to attract new donors to your organization.

1. Choose to engage the donor’s head and heart to make the investment decision. 

While some donors want to hear about the tear-jerking story, other donors gravitate to the infographic that clearly demonstrates the direct numbers impacted by the mission of the organization. And to make things a little more difficult, some donors appreciate both – the heart felt story and the hard facts combined with data. 

We have found that you will achieve your best results from a donor appeal letter when you genuinely know your audience. Keep in mind that this is not only the words on the paper – it is also how your solicitation letter made them feel. You want your donors (and prospective donors) to remember their feelings, even after the last punctuation mark on the paper. 

When marketing to a donor demographic that you have not identified their giving preference, go with the heartfelt story. Make sure you are able to clearly illustrate the impact numbers of your organization and, when possible, couple this with a client name, face and personal story. All the better to paint the picture for your donor to feel the impact of their donation. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

posted by
Disa McAlister
Fall 2017 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management

Nonprofit organizations have added pressure in the area of Leadership Development due to smaller staff sizes, with smaller salaries. This means people are expected to do more for less. Volunteer bases, while passionate, also sport high turnover. Volunteer managers are constantly training, on top of everything else they do. Between being understaffed, stretching resources and constantly training new people, little energy is left over to put into leadership development. 

 Even in the age of technology and virtual meetings, the most impactful moments of development happen in regular face-to-face meetings on a daily basis. Your conference room (or coffee shop table) is sacred space. Use the moments in and around meetings to foster the kind of leadership that will support your organization.

Here are a few toxic signs of ego to watch out for that will invade your sacred meeting space and derail leadership development:


To steamroll a conversation is to take the focus off a subject and turn it into being all about one person. If you witness a person is consistently taking over a conversation to talk about themselves, you can veer the focus back by kindly acknowledging what they were saying using reflective language, and then saying, “but this meeting is about X and we need to hear from Mr. Y.” It may not work the first time, but you’ve taken the first step to establishing a precedence for your meeting space.

Monday, April 23, 2018

posted by
Juhi Sharma
Digital Marketing
Give Central

When it comes to fundraising for nonprofits, donors are key. While reaching out to donors for funds, it is essential to treat them as partners. You should constantly keep them in the loop about things you are planning to do and how you plan to go about your campaign.

Donors have several motivations for choosing a cause. It could be something they feel passionately about, or it could also be their desire to be part of a community while sharing the vision of the leader of the project. It could be because of tax-deductible donations, or several other factors. You should be able to provide reasons to the donor for connecting with your cause. Once they are a part of your cause, it is equally important to reach out to them on a regular basis to make them feel a part of your community.

Here are a few ways to make your campaign more donor centric: 

Show donors how they can help solve a problem

Evidence shows that people are more likely to donate if they believe they can create a difference through their support. They strive to help solve something that they associate themselves with. Target your audience with a pitch that has specific requests.


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