Gift launches new era for nonprofit center
Arizona’s more than 20,000 nonprofit organizations will be the big winners from the multi-million dollar contribution to Arizona State University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership and Management. The Lodestar Foundation’s $5 million gift, the largest donation in its history, is expected to catapult the center into the forefront of philanthropic research and expand its high-demand programs that strengthen nonprofits.
“In recognition of this landmark gift, the center will be renamed the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation,” says Robert F. Ashcraft, founder and director of the center and associate professor in the ASU School of Community Resources and Development. “The Lodestar name is a mantle that we will wear proudly in honor of our longstanding relationship with the Lodestar Foundation and our shared values,” he adds.
Several new initiatives to address the sector’s top priorities will be implemented by the center over the next few years, including programs to increase overall civic engagement and promote collaboration among nonprofits. The Lodestar investment and four new ASU faculty positions are targeted at increasing the understanding of philanthropy’s role in society and leading the way to innovation among nonprofits.
“The synergies between the Lodestar Foundation’s mission and ASU’s nonprofit expertise are aligning for the public good,” says Lois Savage, president of Lodestar Foundation. “The Foundation is dedicated to supporting the growth of philanthropy and this pioneering contribution is a gauge of the exponential results we anticipate,” she explains.
Jerry Hirsch, founder of the Lodestar Foundation, and Ashcraft are both vanguards in the nonprofit field. Hirsch started The Lodestar Foundation with the philosophy that one can find happiness through philanthropy. His legacy of innovation began with bringing the Social Venture Partners philanthropic giving circle model to Phoenix in 1999. He developed a somewhat unique philanthropic methodology, focusing on leveraging resources for maximum impact instead of focusing on any one societal need or area of interest.
The Lodestar Foundation’s vision from its inception in 1999 has been to encourage philanthropy, public service and volunteerism as well as nonprofit collaboration and efficient business practices. Lodestar’s efforts extend to Central America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Locally, investments include the Lodestar Day Resource Center in Phoenix, a national model for providing services to the homeless.
Ashcraft embraced the field of nonprofit studies as an academic discipline before it was widely accepted. Under his leadership, the center evolved from a national nonprofit certificate program for undergraduates called American Humanics, which began in 1980. It has expanded to include the nation’s first bachelor’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management, a master’s degree in nonprofit studies, the Nonprofit Management Institute for professional development, an international research agenda and two annual regional conferences.
The Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation will remain a hub for nonprofit leadership education, research and technical assistance activities in the School of Community Resources and Development and the College of Public Programs at the Downtown Phoenix campus. Each year more than 1,000 students participate in its academic programs and hundreds of nonprofits receive direct assistance.
The center is supported by a number of federal, foundation and corporate sources, including a tri-university alliance for nonprofit capacity-building, funded initially by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In conjunction with several U.S. and European universities, the center is involved in seminal research on the global state of nonprofit education in anticipation of sector workforce demands.
College of Public Programs Dean Debra Friedman notes, “We are grateful for the Lodestar Foundation’s generous support and for Robert Ashcraft’s stellar leadership. Nonprofits represent a major growth sector nationally, ripe for the breakthroughs we can achieve with this and other creative investments.”
The $5 million Lodestar gift is the largest single gift ever received by the ASU College of Public Programs and adds significantly to the center’s growing national and international reputation. The new name and brand for the Lodestar Foundation Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation will officially launch at the center’s 10th Annual Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness on March 7, 2008.