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Lodestar Center helps connect experienced professionals with nonprofits

Center also becomes statewide hub for Service Enterprise Initiative to train volunteer managers

Stock photo of older man in dark suit sitting at table.

Stock photo by Jenean Newcomb/Unsplash

March 10, 2022

Experience Matters, an organization that connects skilled, senior volunteers with social-benefit organizations, has joined the suite of programs at an Arizona State University research center aimed at growing nonprofits’ capacity to do their critical work in the community.

In a separate move, the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation also announced that it is the new statewide hub of the Service Enterprise Initiative, which trains and certifies nonprofit organizations in exemplary volunteer and change management. The initiative, which is in partnership with the national Points of Light Foundation, was formerly administered by the Arizona Governor’s Office.

Now in its 23rd year of educating, empowering and connecting nonprofit leaders, the Lodestar Center is housed within the School of Community Resources and Development at ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Adding Experience Matters

Lodestar Center and Experience Matters leaders say the addition of the Phoenix-based nonprofit Experience Matters amplifies the center’s work to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations and accelerate social impact in communities. In joining forces with ASU, Experience Matters can focus on its core mission to connect talented professionals over the age of 50 with area nonprofits for “encore” careers of service. The move will allow Experience Matters to scale its reach to even more individuals and social-benefit organizations, officials said in a Lodestar Center statement.

Experience Matters will retain its name and program model under the ASU Lodestar Center banner. Both the Center and Experience Matters will leverage the new synergies and shared relationships for greater impact.

Since its founding in 2009, Experience Matters has impacted over 600 nonprofits, with more than 1,200 projects completed by matched volunteers, according to the statement.

“After a thoughtful process focused on expanding the impact of Experience Matters programs in the community, we are delighted to transition our programs to the ASU’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation,” said Melinda Gulick, interim executive director of Experience Matters. “The ASU Lodestar Center is already leading in the space of capacity building, and the Experience Matters programs are an excellent complement to their work – further expanding the capacity, infrastructure and talent in our community’s nonprofit organizations.”

Filling a unique space in Arizona’s nonprofit sector, Experience Matters will move into the center’s portfolio of capacity-building programs. The portfolio includes Public Allies Arizona for developing emerging leaders and the Service Enterprise Initiative for teaching best practices in volunteer management, among other proven services and programs, the statement said.  

“Our alignment around shared values and goals to better our communities was a unifying design principle guiding this effort,” said Robert Ashcraft, executive director of ASU’s Lodestar Center and Saguaro Professor of Civic Enterprise.

“We look forward to building on the proud history of Experience Matters and using the power of collaboration and partnerships to achieve desirable outcomes for our stakeholders,” Ashcraft added.

“The board of directors of Experience Matters realized we were at a unique point in our organizational life cycle to further the impact of our core mission, strengthening the social sector and advancing years of work matching fellows and volunteers with community organizations,” said Jessica Gabry, chair of the Experience Matters board of directors and a member of the ASU Lodestar Center’s Leadership Council. “This is an exciting expansion of Experience Matters’ programs, and we are enthusiastic about the possibilities.”

Leading the Service Enterprise Initiative

The center has assumed overall management of Points of Light’s Service Enterprise Initiative in Arizona after serving as one of four state sub-hubs under the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, according to a Lodestar Center statement.

“The Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family is proud to have partnered with the Points of Light Foundation to bring the Service Enterprise Initiative to Arizona between 2015 and 2020. During that time, 88 organizations completed the training process, with 43 achieving certification by demonstrating the capability and management expertise to strategically engage volunteers and improve the performance of their organization,” said Emily Litchfield, director of AmeriCorps and volunteerism for the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, in the statement. “We are excited to see the ASU Lodestar Center continuing this work by serving as the statewide hub for Arizona.”

As part of its capacity-building strategies to accelerate the social impact of nonprofit and public organizations, the Lodestar Center aims to significantly increase the number of Service Enterprise certified organizations in the state, according to the statement.

“What few realize is that volunteers are the largest workforce in the nonprofit sector and, as such, they are essential to providing necessary services and programs to advance community well-being,” said Ashcraft, in the statement. “When one considers that those who volunteer also benefit by serving others, that means multiple benefits are accrued, which adds to our reasons for leading the Service Enterprise Initiative efforts to advance Arizona.”

Written by Phil Bencomo, manager of strategic communications, Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation.