New certificate allows students to explore careers in nonprofit work

The new Nonprofit Leadership and Management certificate combines communication and business aspects of nonprofit work, giving students the skills they need to pursue a career in nonprofit work.

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

A new certificate program is giving students the opportunity to explore careers and skills in nonprofit work.

The new Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management will be available to students starting in the fall, replacing both the Nonprofit Management Certificate and the Fundraising & Philanthropy Communication Certificate.

The new certificate combines both communication and business aspects of nonprofit work and is housed in the University College. Students pursuing either of the former certificates can choose to complete their current tracks or switch to the new certificate.

Jenifer Vick, a lecturer of journalism and mass communication and co-director of the new certificate program, said the merging of the two certificates better serves students’ interests.

“The main reason is because of student interest — being able to have a more streamlined, robust program that really covers the whole menu of careers that someone can participate in in the nonprofit world,” she said. “That might be from leadership as a CEO, as a fundraising professional, as a communications director.”

Jill Smith, an associate professor of instruction in the Tippie College of Business, is also a co-director the program. She said combining business and communications aspects of nonprofit work is beneficial to students.

“They get to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations by drawing on the business acumen side, but also the fundraising, philanthropy, and communications side on it,” Smith said. “So it really makes our wildest dreams to be able to use our resources in an interdisciplinary nature, making it an awesome program for students.” 

The certificate requires 21 semester hours and includes a required experiential-learning component. Students can take the certificate on campus or online.

Maureen McCormick, director of marketing for the UI’s online programs, said certificate programs appeal primarily to current undergraduates, but they can also be useful for those already pursuing careers.

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“Maybe they’re thinking they’re in a job, but maybe they’re trying to enhance their careers in some way — the certificate program would help them advance their résumés, get better jobs, that kind of thing,” she said.

The current nonprofit certificates enroll around 125 students. Smith said students from a variety of majors and programs are interested in the nonprofit certificate.

“We draw from many departments on campus,” she said. “The nonprofit sector isn’t tunneled into either communications, or journalism, or business. Students can come out of public health, nursing, School of Social Work, professional students — a number of different students who are very interested in doing good in this world.”

Vick said some students enrolled in the certificate are sure they want to work in nonprofit or start their own nonprofit ventures, while others are interested in working in for profit businesses with some philanthropic focus.

Smith said students pursuing nonprofit work are passionate.

“Students today are compassionate and want to, in addition to maybe their regular academic studies — or they’ve integrated within their academic majors this certificate program so they can carry out their passions,” Smith said.

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