Nonprofit Management for the 21st Century

Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

How long?

  • online

Lilly Family School of Philanthropy


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Who should attend

Mid-level and upper-level leaders and those aspiring to leadership positions in all areas of the nonprofit sector. It is helpful but not necessary if participants have either served on or staffed a board of directors. No other specialized background is expected. A laptop is not necessary but may be helpful for note-taking.

About the course

Through a unique collaboration, this innovative and affordable continuing education course will help you meet your professional goals. This seminar is designed for mid-level and upper-level nonprofit leaders and those aspiring to leadership positions in all areas of the nonprofit sector. The seminar includes topics of particular interest to fundraising professionals.

One of the biggest challenges facing the nonprofit sector today is the quality of its management and board. This seminar will provide participants with a strong foundation in the legal and managerial responsibilities of nonprofit organizations by engaging topics related to governance, accountability, collaboration, and leadership. This two-day course will address:

  • Leading, managing, and motivating volunteers and staff
  • Collaboration activities and partner relations
  • Watchdog organizations and the regulatory environment
  • Governance models, trends, and options
  • Roles and responsibilities of boards of directors
  • Public accountability and ethical leadership



  • Group introductions, course objectives
  • Please read this item in advance of class: Anatomy of a Dysfunctional Organization (Chapter 3 in Jackson and Fogarty’s Sarbanes Oxley and Nonprofit Management, Wiley 2006). Please come prepared to answer these questions (small group discussion):
    • How would you describe your organizational culture?
    • What forms of organizational dysfunction have you observed in the nonprofit sector?
    • What role could a Board of Directors play in resolving them?
  • Board roles and responsibilities (see Principles for Good Governance)
    • Please read in advance Miller-Millesen’s article “Understanding Nonprofit Boards”
  • Research on high-performing boards: What really matters?
    • Urban Institute’s The State of Nonprofit Governance 2014
    • Ostrower’s Nonprofit Governance in the United States 2007 (copyrighted; obtain on your own)
    • Gazley and Bowers 2013; Gazley and Kissman 2015; two governance studies in member-serving organizations (to be presented in class, with handout)
  • Small group discussion and application of course material to your organization
  • Reconvene, additional Q&A on governance


  • Ethical frameworks for the nonprofit sector (“Ethics” powerpoint)
    • In advance, please download and bring with you one copy of the “values” statement from your organization’s mission statement (if you have one), and a sample of other organizational policies that address ethics. These might include organizational codes of conduct, conflict of interest policies, etc.
  • An Introduction to Independent Sector’s Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice
    • Please review in advance Principles for Good Governance.
  • The wonderful (and sometimes wacky) world of watchdog organizations: What do they want and can we give it to them?
    • Video: Dan Pallotta’s view of nonprofit accountability
    • What is “overhead” anyway??
    • How good are the charity rating systems, what do they want from us, and are there better ways of evaluating organizational effectiveness and efficiency?
    • Please read in advance: Wall Street Journal article “Charity Rankings Giveth Less”; and the compilation of stories on the Overhead Debate. This package includes an article from Stanford Social Innovation Review on the “Nonprofit Starvation Cycle”. Please be sure to read the online reader comments.
  • Brief lecture on outcomes and impacts, followed by group discussion on performance measurement at your organization


  • Regroup, open discussion
  • Playing well together: Mergers, collaborations, networks, partnerships and other interorganizational relationships
    • Collaboration and Contracting Handout
  • Small group/full group discussion – what makes collaboration work in your field?
  • Getting in bed and avoiding the fleas – Contracts, public-private partnerships and grants Please read this news story in advance: Open Access vs. Donors’ Influence? The Millennium Park case (Kleiman, Christian Science Monitor 9-29-2004)
  • Implementing a collaborative culture at your organization / Small group discussion
    • Avoiding Siloed Departments, NP Times Discussion question: Are there any “siloed” activities in your organization? What causes them? What are the consequences? What solutions might there be?


Come prepared to discuss employee and volunteer management in your organization. Where are the recruitment challenges you face (Skills? Diversity? Experience?)? Are there retention challenges? How much do you know about why people want to work (paid and unpaid) for your organization? I’ll introduce you to the research that will help you understand what really attracts people to NPO employment and volunteerism.

  • An introduction to employee motivation and retention: Mission or Money?
    • Job Embeddedness Model
  • Small group/whole class discussion: What motivates employees in your organization?
    • The leadership/motivation matrix, or what works when nothing else does?
  • Who volunteers? Intro to the “Volunteer S-Curve”
  • Research in volunteer recruitment and retention and its applications for practitioners
    • Penner model of volunteer behavior
  • Small group/whole class discussion: improving volunteer recruitment and retention in your organization.
  • The law on nonprofit employee compensation: Why a “rebuttable presumption” may be hard to say but is actually a good thing
    • Labor and tax law with respect to senior staff compensation.
    • Helpful strategies for designing equitable and defensible compensation systems.
    • New research and future trends in nonprofit employment and volunteerism
  • Q&A, troubleshooting on employee and volunteer engagement at your organization
  • Wrap-up, course evaluations, course completion certificates, and fond farewells



  • Readings
  • Narrated Presentation
  • Quiz
  • Assignment: NAACP
  • Assignment: Drucker on Nonprofits
  • Assignment: Discussing Your Work


  • Readings
  • Narrated Presentation
  • Quiz
  • Assignment: Baptist Foundation of Arizona
  • Assignment: Values Based Leadership
  • Assignment: Discussing Your Work


  • Readings
  • Narrated Presentation
  • Quiz
  • Assignment: Cancer Vaccine Collaborative
  • Assignment: Collaboration in Action
  • Assignment: Discussing Your Work


  • Readings
  • Narrated Presentation
  • Quiz
  • Assignment: CANDO Case Study
  • Assignment: Effectiveness Criteria
  • Assignment: Discussing Your Work
  • Assignment: Course Evaluation

Videos and materials

Nonprofit Management for the 21st Century at Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

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