Developing Your Career in the Nonprofit Sector: A Starter List
By: Leila Thomas
As Patton McDowell explored in his article Nonprofit Focus for the New Year, seeking professional development opportunities is more important than ever for nonprofit organizations and professionals. Increasing professional opportunities, an elevated talent pool, and raised expectations are driving nonprofit professions to be among the fastest-growing and most competitive in the country. Below is a “PMA approved” list of professional development and continuing education resources that offer a helpful starting point for nonprofit professionals looking to improve career opportunities and advancement, increase knowledge and skills, and develop a broader understanding of nonprofit concepts and trends.
Continuing Education – Regional
The Duke University Nonprofit Management program curriculum offers a structured and rigorous grounding in the establishment, operation, and continuation of a successful nonprofit. The program provides recipients the skills to navigate this changing environment successfully.
Through a variety of programs and initiatives, the Institute for Philanthropic Leadership works to engage nonprofit board members in fundraising in a meaningful way, and to give nonprofit executives the tools and knowledge to create a culture of philanthropy in their organizations. Its flagship program, the Leadership Gift School, educates nonprofit leaders about how to cultivate individuals for major gifts.
The N.C. State University department of Public Administration, with the cooperation of its Institute for Nonprofits, offers multiple graduate programs targeted to individuals working in or planning careers in the nonprofit sector, including a Certificate in Nonprofit Management. The program is built around regularly offered graduate courses and provides the basic knowledge, skills, processes, analysis and advocacy needed to manage nonprofit organizations.
UNCC’s Master of Public Administration Program provides education and training for the public and nonprofit sectors and conducts scholarly and applied research to advance the field of public administration. The Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management consists of fifteen credit hours within the MPA curriculum.
The Essentials of Business for Nonprofit Organizations is a series of skill-building courses designed to strengthen the capacity of students and professionals pursuing careers in the nonprofit sector or those interested in updating their knowledge and skills. Classes are open to the community and cover a range of topics essential to the governance and management of nonprofits.
Continuing Education – National
The Certificate in Nonprofit Management is a fully on-line, accredited graduate program designed to sharpen analytical and management skills, for those assuming a leadership role in a nonprofit, aspiring to one, or hoping to gain a greater understanding of a specific sector. All the courses feature a global perspective for relevance in today’s world of interconnected economies and communication.
The IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is globally recognized as the nation’s first university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in philanthropy. The school increases the understanding of philanthropy and improves its practice worldwide through critical inquiry, interdisciplinary research, teaching, training, and civic engagement. For professional development, the Fundraising School offers 15 courses, two certificates, and customized training across the nation designed to bolster professional fundraising efforts.
Other Professional Development Resources
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) provides its members opportunities to advance philanthropy by becoming effective and ethical fundraisers. Local chapters in Charlotte, the Triad, the Triangle and others are affiliates of AFP International and offer quality education, professional networking and development opportunities including affinity groups, educational programs, access to webinars presented leaders in the field, and regional and international conference opportunities.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy is an independent news organization that has been serving leaders, fundraisers, gran-t makers, and others involved in philanthropy for more than 25 years. It offers a robust advice section to help nonprofit professionals do their jobs as well as a comprehensive listing of career opportunities. The Chronicle has a variety of online professional development resources, including webinars and virtual toolkits.
The N.C. Center for Nonprofits serves as an information center on effective practices in nonprofit organizations, a statewide network for nonprofit board and staff members, and an advocate for the sector. The Center offers services directly to all sizes and types of 501(c)(3) nonprofits and works closely with other local, state, and national groups that assist nonprofits. Members have access to professional training programs, online resources, publications, and workshops relevant to the industry.
The purpose of the North Carolina Planned Giving Council (NCPGC) is to encourage the education and training of the planned giving community of North Carolina, which includes development officers and applied professionals (trust officers, attorneys, accountants, and others). NCPGC offers members the opportunity to share the knowledge they possess and to access the information they need.