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Nonprofit Management Certificate and Certification Programs

Learn about certificate programs available for aspiring nonprofit managers. Find out about program requirements and coursework as well as career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Nonprofit managers are of growing importance to social service agencies and 501(c)3 organizations as they expand to meet diverse needs. These professionals often have a developed sense of social responsibility and a sincere desire to serve a community. Many of them have also received some type of postsecondary education, such as a certificate in nonprofit management.

Nonprofit management certificate programs teach students how to facilitate the functions of the ever-changing nonprofit organization. Programs usually run from 6-12 months, though some schools offer full-time intensives that allow students to earn a certificate in less than two weeks. Programs cover business topics within the context of nonprofits, including the history of the nonprofit sector, ethics, budgeting, finance, fundraising, marketing and strategic planning.

Education Prerequisites

Most schools offering the certificate in nonprofit management accept applicants who are currently employed by or serving as volunteers for an existing nonprofit agency. Most schools will also accept students without applicable experience who demonstrate a strong interest in nonprofits.

Program Coursework

Students in a nonprofit management certificate programs develop a capacity for social leadership and strategic planning. Courses in interpersonal relations are incorporated into the curriculum, along with classes covering:

  • Ethics and decision-making
  • Financial management
  • Assessments and outcomes
  • Public policy and nonprofit law
  • Human resources
  • Gifts
  • Volunteer and board management
  • Information technology

Salary and Career Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' report in 2012, the median annual salary for public relations and fundraising managers was $95,450. The report included managers and supervisors who worked either in the nonprofit or for-profit sectors (www.bls.gov). Because nonprofit organizations are often grassroots agencies with little financial support, nonprofit managers may accept lower pay in exchange for the internal rewards that complement a vocation of service.

Continuing Education Information

Students who apply for nonprofit management certificate programs often possess a degree or are in the process of obtaining an advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Many universities offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in nonprofit studies. Some students find it helpful to obtain a degree in nonprofit studies while others prefer to focus on disciplines directly related to the mission of specific nonprofit work, such as education, gender studies, public health or counseling.

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