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Minor in Nonprofit Leadership

About the Program

The curriculum for the Minor in Nonprofit Leadership will prepare students for the unique functions and responsibilities of working and leading in the nonprofit arena. Courses cover the key elements including strategic planning, fundraising, lobbying and advocacy, recruiting, training and managing a volunteer workforce along with managing salaried employees. Students develop knowledge and skills in basic principles of leadership; foundation skills for managing volunteers; communication skills for advocating for change; planning skills for both program and grant development and management; and relationship skills for building community partnerships. The capstone project is designed for students to integrate concepts from the required courses in nonprofit leadership, while using entrepreneurial skills to develop a hypothetical sustainable nonprofit organization in an area of their interest.


As a result of completing the Nonprofit Leadership Minor/Certificate, students will:

  • Identify leadership philosophy, styles and traits
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills for advocating for change
  • Identify skills necessary for recruiting, training and managing a volunteer workforce
  • Demonstrate skills for developing strategic plans and building community partnerships within the nonprofit sector
  • Develop skills for identifying, securing and administering grant funded initiatives
  • Demonstrate skills for program design, implementation and evaluation
  • Articulate skills for leading a nonprofit organizations

Required Courses (23 credits)

11:607:200: Principles of Leadership (3)
Described as "a complex, multidimensional process," leadership can be conceptualized as "a trait, an ability, a skill, a behavior or a relationship" (Northouse p. 9, 2012). Learning about leadership is useful regardless of one's professional position or status as each of us may need to assume a leadership role. This course provides students with an introduction to today's popular topic of leadership. Students examine their leadership philosophy and its impact on their leadership style. Topics covered include: the nature of leadership, leadership traits, style and skills. Leadership obstacles along with strategies for effective leadership are addressed.

11:607:203: Foundations of Volunteer Management (3) Fall Only
With approximately 1.4 million volunteers in the United States, nonprofit organizations play a vital role in community life and are an integral part of the economic, political and social structure of our nation. In 2014 roughly 62 million Americans volunteered 7.9 billion hours, the estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $184 billion. Thus, the nonprofit venue offers a rich and viable employment opportunity on both a local and national level for our graduates to gain diverse and meaningful work experience, further their knowledge while making a positive contribution. In this course students compare volunteer management models and examine volunteer-dependent organizations. Students explore organizational recruitment practices, risk management policies and how to select, train, engage and recognize volunteers. Students examine volunteer management practices and make recommendations based on the theories and practices studied in class.

11:607:381: Presentation Skills: Advocating for Change (3) Spring Only
For better or worse, leaders are often measured on their public speaking skills. Ironically, public speaking is frequently identified as one of the top-ten fears. Yet public speaking is a skill that can be developed. This course is designed to strengthen students' presentation and public speaking skills with a leadership focus on advocating for change. Upon completion, students will be able to enhance the public dialogue, a powerful vehicle for professional and personal growth. With a foundation of communication and leadership knowledge and application, students build a presentation skill set, which is useful for other college courses, the workforce and community at large.

11:607:364: Grant Development and Management (3) Fall Only
Despite a stagnant economy, foundation, government and corporate grant awards have been substantial as evident by: 4.2 billion dollars in grants from Gates Foundation (2015); 3.3 billion dollars in Environmental Education grants from the US Environmental Protection Agency; and 456 million dollars (2015) awarded by New Jersey Pharmaceutical Novartis, which ranked first in the US for corporate giving (2014). Obtaining a grant is just the first step, implementing and managing the funded initiative is where the real work begins. This course introduces students to the grant development and management process. Students participate in a guided process and build their skill set to locate and identify grant opportunities, develop a viable proposal and prepare a formal funding application. Implementation and management of the funded project including fiscal and legal responsibilities are addressed including follow-up reporting requirements. This course is particularly useful for students who anticipate working in the nonprofit sector including healthcare, public health, human services, education, community development, non-governmental organizations (NGO), faith-based organizations, non-profits, government (local, state, federal), and foundations.

11:607:400: Leadership of Nonprofit Organizations (3) Fall Only
Leaders in nonprofit organizations face the unique challenge of finding creative ways to generate revenue, attract high caliber employees and volunteers without the lure of big salaries, maintain goodwill, and engage meaningful evaluation methods to determine organizational impact. In the nonprofit arena leaders must balance multiple stakeholders including executive boards, funders, employees and volunteers who are often at odds with each other and/or have competing priorities with respect to the fundamental mission of the organization. In this course students build the skill set for effective leadership in the nonprofit world. Strategic planning, fundraising, lobbying and advocacy along with leading a paid workforce and volunteer constituents in the nonprofit sector are addressed. Students identify their personal leadership style and develop specific goals for their continued growth and development.

11:607:401: Foundations of Program Planning (3) Spring Only
While the pragmatic Maine expression of 'You can't get there from here' is often associated with driving directions, its meaning extends beyond the map. Course syllabi, Degree Navigator and MapQuest are all tools used to chart a course, without which the journey can be longer and more costly than anticipated. Likewise successful programs, whether the focus is on environment, agriculture, or social areas, require well designed plans that include organized intentional events resulting in valued outcomes for a clearly defined audience. Through this course students develop the skill set to methodically design, develop, implement, and evaluate educational programs that are effectiveness-based and impact-driven. Students identify client needs and develop a plan to create relevant educational programs to meet these needs. This course is beneficial for students pursuing careers in healthcare, public health, human services, education, community development, non-governmental organizations (NGO), faith-based organizations, non-profits, government (local, state, federal), foundations, and businesses and corporations.

11:607:402: Building Community Partnerships (3)
Building and mobilizing community coalitions and partnerships is a well-developed strategy for leveraging resources towards solving complex community problems. These solutions require the engagement of multiple community sectors. In this course students learn the essential elements for building collaborative partnerships across disparate groups. Students examine various coalition/community partnership frameworks and develop leadership skills necessary to initiate, build, evaluate, and sustain durable coalitions and community partnerships. This course is beneficial for students pursuing careers in healthcare, public health, human services, education, community development, non-governmental organizations (NGO), faith-based organizations, non-profits, government (local, state, federal), foundation and business and corporations.

11:607:405: Establishing a Nonprofit-Capstone Experience (2)
Students integrate prior learning from all courses noted above using entrepreneurial skills to develop a hypothetical sustainable nonprofit organization in an area of interest. Students develop the organization's business and strategic encompassing the key elements needed for a successful sustainable nonprofit organization. Students demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and key competencies while creating their nonprofit organization from inception to completion.


Dr. Karen Plumley

306 Martin Hall, G. H. Cook Campus