The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits was formed in 2004 to be the unifying voice of the nonprofit sector in Arizona. We are the only statewide association dedicated to serving the needs of the more than 20,000 nonprofit organizations all across Arizona. We do this through advocacy, education, information, connection and resources, which are tailored specifically for nonprofits, their staff, their board and their volunteers.
Our mission is to unite, strengthen and advance Arizona's nonprofit sector.
We envision an Arizona where all nonprofits are
valued, empowered and thriving.
We accomplish this by:
- Serving the sector by providing quality information, training, and networking opportunities;
- Supporting the sector by offering savings through group-buying discount programs;
- Protecting the sector by representing the them at the Arizona Legislature, state agencies that regulate nonprofits, and many other local arenas of decision making across the state; and
- Promoting the sector by projecting a collective voice to the public about the sector’s essential contributions and significant challenges in our communities.
We are guided by our values, as we strive to be:
- Diverse & Inclusive
History of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits was formed in 2004 to join 39 other states as a unifying organization to advance the common interests of all nonprofits. Specifically, the Alliance was formed to address the following concerns:
- Without a unifying association, nonprofits fragment into separate silos, diluting their buying power, resources and voice
- Without collaboration, nonprofits duplicate efforts by separately doing things that could be centralized to save time and money
- Without a collective voice at the Legislature, in front of regulatory agencies, and with the public, nonprofits are invisible and less effective community stakeholders than their peers in government and business
- Without the Alliance, nonprofits are unable to coordinate effectively to capitalize on their combined size and strengths.
Most nonprofits are under capitalized, understaffed and stretched to the bone as they continually struggle to find and secure the resources they need to carry out their missions.
“Now more than ever before, nonprofits need management support; technical assistance in marketing, governance, technology and financial systems; and tools to document their impact. They need to learn how to lobby just like their for-profit counterparts do, so that their programs services, and missions are protected and strengthened. They need help in communicating and evaluating what they do.”
(Cynthia Gibson & Ruth McCambridge, “Why Every Foundation Should Fund Infrastructure,” The Nonprofit Quarterly (2004))
The Alliance is an organization offering tools for capacity-building to nonprofits. We are the intermediary providing management support, advocacy, training, discounts and other services.
Arizona Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative
In 2001, a group of dedicated community leaders began meeting to discuss the need for a more coordinated system to support Arizona’s nonprofits. The group established the Arizona Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative to “ascertain the capacity building needs of Arizona nonprofits and to determine what strategies and structures, including but not limited to a state association of nonprofits, may best be suited to addressing these needs."
Visionaries at the Arizona Community Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Quarles & Brady Streich Lang and St. Luke’s Health Initiative (now Vitalyst Health Foundation) invested funds for a feasibility study regarding the creation of a statewide nonprofit association. The feasibility study consisted of four major components:
- A profile of the nonprofit sector in Arizona
- An assessment of capacity-building needs of Arizona nonprofit organizations
- An inventory of existing capacity building resources
- An inventory of “best practices” and lessons learned from other states
After fourteen months of deliberation and a series of community meetings across the state, the Initiative reported its findings, which indicated that the top-rated areas for organized action are advocacy, collective purchasing, the development of a statewide information clearinghouse, training and technical assistance, strategic partnerships and collaboration and public awareness.
Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
In the fall of 2003 the Arizona Community Foundation asked the Center for Leadership, Ethics & Public Service to conduct additional research on best practices in nonprofit associations in other states; meet with regional nonprofit leaders across the state to discuss and become familiar with regional infrastructure needs, activities and goals; make presentations to generate ideas, feedback and support; and convene an ongoing group of committed nonprofit leaders to examine what the next generation of nonprofit associations could look like in Arizona’s unique context.
Leadership and staff at the ASU Center for Nonprofit Leadership & Management (now ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation) were early champions of enhanced nonprofit capacity building, and played significant roles with the Arizona Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative by gathering research, drafting elements of the report and serving on the Steering Committee. In the spring of 2004, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation formally issued a major grant to ASU’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership & Management to address nonprofit capacity building needs in Arizona. Leaders of ASU’s Center expressed a desire to help facilitate the development of the new statewide nonprofit entity and committed both significant human resources and an investment of financial support.
In late summer, this activity culminated in a retreat held to review and develop the Implementation Plan. A formal strategic plan was written and the Alliance was formally incorporated in September 2004.
National Council of Nonprofits
The Alliance is a member of the National Council of Nonprofits. More than two decades ago, nonprofit leaders in several states began creating statewide associations of nonprofits that would serve as the equivalent of a “chambers of commerce for nonprofits” in their states. Twenty years ago, they organized the National Council to strengthen their national position and support the individual state associations. Today, the National Council represents a network of state and regional nonprofit associations serving more than 25,000 nonprofits in 40 states.
The Council has been led since 2008 by Tim Delaney, a long-time Arizonan who helped form the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits. It is served by a six-member staff and creates a robust information sharing resource for all of the state associations which are part of the national network. The National Council also ensures that the interests of community-based nonprofits have a voice in national issues, particularly federal policy making.