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Nonprofit Management and Leadership

Nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and social entrepreneurs are major players in how public policy gets developed and implemented as well as how change occurs in our society. In the United States, the nonprofit sector encompasses more than a million organizations, annually reports trillions of dollars in revenue and assets, represents approximately 10 percent of the workforce, annually generates more than 400 billion dollars through donations and volunteers, and is primarily funded by government resources.
Today’s policy challenges require that tomorrow’s leaders be well versed in innovative, collaborative cross-sector solutions. Expertise in the area of nonprofit management and philanthropy is critical to School of Public Policy graduate students in a variety of policy specializations. 

MPP students of all professional interests will find a number of interesting career opportunities in the nonprofit sector; ranging from social or environmental policy, to international development. Since policy students will likely become nonprofit leaders in a particular policy field, the specialization in Nonprofit Management and Leadership (NML) will require at least four courses, and the focus will require at least three courses. This three-course package will allow MPP students to potentially specialize in two policy fields and still achieve a NML credential or specialize in one policy field and also specialize in NML.

Nonprofit Management & Leadership Specialization

  •  Two required courses:
    • PUAF 798Y: Nonprofit Management and Leadership 
    • PUAF 688F: State, Local and Nonprofit Financial Management
  • Two courses from the list below are required:
    • PUAF 689Z: Strategic Management for Nonprofit and Public Organizations
    • PUAF 689P: Strategic Philanthropy
    • PUAF 689Y: Nonproft Fundraising
    • PUAF 688O: China's Dynamic Philanthropic and Social Sector: Policy and Management Perspectives
    • PUAF 689D: Social Entrepreneurship


Nonprofit Management & Leadership Focus

  • One required course:
    • PUAF 798Y: Nonprofit Management and Leadership
  • Required to take two elective courses that could include:
    • PUAF 689Z: Strategic Management for Nonprofit and Public Organizations
    • PUAF: 689Y: Nonprofit Fundraising
    • PUAF 688F: State, Local and Nonprofit Financial Management
    • PUAF 790: India: Project Course with Delhi's NGOs
    • PUAF 688O: China's Dynamic Philanthropic and Social Sector: Policy and Management Perspectives
    • PUAF 689D: Social Entrepreneurship
    • PUAF 689P: Strategic Philanthropy

Course descriptions


Strategic Management for Nonprofit and Public Organizations (PUAF 689Z): Serving as a successful leader for a nonprofit or public organization of any kind requires an understanding of the strategic management process and a well-developed and managed strategy is a key to an organization’s performance. This course provides an integrated approach to leadership theories and concepts, research and modern practices related to strategic planning and execution. Leading strategy approaches will be discussed and students will gain a deep understanding of how strategy can be effectively developed, implemented and managed in these organizations. The course will be relevant for students who want to work for and/or consult with nonprofit and government organizations. Faculty: Rob Sheehan. Credits: 3. Prerequisites: Students are encouraged to have taken or be currently enrolled in Nonprofit Mangement and Leadership (PUAF 798Y).


India: Project Course with Delhi’s NGOs (PUAF 790): In partnership with the Grameen Foundation, this abroad course provides students an opportunity to work closely with, and accelerate the progress of, a leading nongovernmental organization (NGO) in India. Through this program, students will have the chance to apply their newly-developed political, financial, economic, quantitative, ethical, analytical and/or communication skills to real issues in service to actual clients in the social sector. All students will practice their skills in very concrete ways including: developing useful recommendations for decision-makers; proposing new or modified practices or policies for NGOs; exploring and adapting best practices; conducting program evaluations; proposing new fundraising plans and other work associated with the successful operation of leadings NGOs in Delhi. The students are selected for the program in the summer of 2014 and work on their projects throughout the fall and winter. The course has been approved as a capstone for NML, IDEV, MFL and ENV. Faculty: Angela Bies with support from Bob Grimm. Credits: 3.


Nonprofit Management and Leadership (PUAF 798Y): Nonprofit organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), philanthropy, civil society and social entrepreneurs are major players in how public policy gets developed and implemented as well as how change occurs in the United States as well as countries around the world. In the United States alone, the nonprofit sector encompasses over a million organizations and annually reports trillions of dollars in revenue and assets. The nonprofit sector is so heavily intertwined with the public sector that government executives will find themselves interacting and partnering with nonprofits on a regular basis. Through discussions of contemporary trends, challenges and issues, this course provides an introduction to the nonprofit sector and the leadership and management skills required to achieve social impact. Faculty: Bob Grimm. Credits: 3. 

Nonprofit, State and Local Financial Management (PUAF 688F): This course covers the fundamentals of accounting and financial management for public and nonprofit organizations. Through course readings, case studies and short assignments, students will learn how to understand and use public sector financial information to inform decision-making. The first half of the course will focus on: operating budgets, cash budgets, tools for evaluating capital budgeting decisions and an introduction to accounting principles. Topics in the second half of the course include financial reporting, financial condition analysis and unique aspects of accounting for public and not-for profit organizations. Along the way, students will gain familiarity with spreadsheet applications and financial calculations. By the end of the course, students should be able to read and interpret financial information and perform straightforward financial analyses. Faculty: Travis St. Clair. Credits: 3. Prerequisites: Students are encouraged to take PUAF 670: Principles of Public Budgeting and Financial Management prior to or concurrently with this course.

Nonprofit Fundraising (PUAF 689Y): This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of fundraising. We will identify the major types of nonprofit funding models and assess which fundraising methods are appropriate for each model. We also will explore motivations for giving; types of funding sources; types of fundraising mechanisms and instruments; grant writing and the rise of strategic philanthropy and the new demands it places on nonprofit leaders. Faculty: Rob Sheehan and Bob Grimm. Credits: 3. Prerequisites: Students are encouraged to have taken or be currently in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. 

China's Dynamic Philanthropic and Social Sector: Policy and Management Perspectives (PUAF 688O): China's philanthropic and social sector are in the midst of rapid development and transformation. China's complex economy boasts great wealth and opportunity, but also faces critical challenges such as poverty, environmental degradation, rapid urbanization and vast internal migration. From this dynamic and distinctive landscape emerge innovative, complex, entrepreneurial and sometimes contradictory approaches from philanthropic, governmental and business leaders. The students are selected for the program in fall 2015 (October 1 deadline to apply). Faculty: Angela Bies. Credits: 3.

Social Entrepreneurship (PUAF 689D): This course is about using entrepreneurial skills to craft innovative responses to social problems. Entrepreneurs are particularly good at recognizing opportunities, exploring innovative approaches, mobilizing resources, managing risks and building viable enterprises. These skills are just as valuable in the social sector as they are in business. Social entrepreneurship applies to both profit and non-profit firms who have programs designed to create social value. Faculty: Jim Sanders. Credits: 3. Prerequisites: none, but please note this is two-credit business course where the faculty member has successfully worked with MPP students to get three credits and this course also has a PUAF as well as a BUMO number.

For more information contact Robert Grimm at rgrimm@umd.edu. Sign up for the specialization or focus by emailing Jiehong Lou: jlou@umd.edu.

Learn more about philanthropy at the UMD School of Public Policy

Our Alums at Work

Demonstrating the high demand for nonprofit management and leadership students, alumni are working at well-known nonprofits and corporate social ventures such as the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Calvert Foundation, America Achieves, the Richard and Nancy E. Marriott Foundation, Pew Trusts, Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, Teach for America, Partnership for Public Service, United Way for the National Capital Area, the Fund for Educational Excellence, Hunt Alternatives Fund, Wells Fargo, the Food Recovery Network, Catholic Relief Services, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Deloitte, the League of Conservation Voters and Accenture.  

Our Unique Philanthropy Fellows Program

The School of Public Policy's Do Good Institute launched the Philanthropy Fellows program, an internship pipeline and professional development program exclusively linking students from the School of Public Policy to semester or year-long paid fellowship opportunities with Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers’ (WRAG) members. WRAG is a network of the top 100 foundations, nonprofits and corporate social investment programs in the Greater Washington region. During the first four years of the Philanthropy Fellows program, 56 fellows worked at more than 30 organizations including the J. Willard and Alice Marriott Foundation, Capital One Foundation, the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, Venture Philanthropy Partners, Deloitte, AARP, Kaiser, Fannie Mae, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the Meyer Foundation. Today, former Philanthropy Fellows are employed at a variety of impressive places including the Calvert Foundation, Deloitte, Pew Trusts, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, America Achieves, United Way for the National Capital Area and Wells Fargo.  

Nonprofit Management and Leadership Specialization Director

For more information on the NML specialization, contact:

Dr. Robert Grimm