Leadership and Management of Nonprofit Organizations

July 24, 2009

This course is designed to:

  1. Introduce you to the U.S. nonprofit sector encouraging you to explore the differences and similarities between managing in the for profit and nonprofit sectors; explores distinctive characteristics of the nonprofit sector;
  2. Introduce you to concepts, best practices, opportunities, and challenges of managing and leading nonprofit organizations;
  3. Provide frameworks and tools that will help you be more effective participants, managers and/or leaders in this arena, and
  4. Provide an opportunity for you to learn first hand the challenges and rewards of philanthropy.

Course Methodology:

The course will be taught using a variety of lectures, discussions, case study assignments, guest speakers and in-class exercises. As a group, students will simulate the experience of starting a private foundation and granting funds up to $15,000 to a qualifying nonprofit organization. A final paper and in-class presentation is required in addition to other written and oral assignments. This course is organized around three modules.

Module I provides an introduction to the sector, exploring key issues in the sector and how the nonprofit sector is different from the for profit sector.

Module II consists of a philanthropy “bootcamp” where students become familiar with the tools required to conduct effective philanthropy. Topics are focused on accountability and success in nonprofit organizations including mission, financial accountability, governance, and outcomes measurement.

Module III delves more deeply into nonprofit management strategy including fundraising, budgeting, resource allocation, program management, leadership, and social entrepreneurship.

Course Schedule and Readings:

Required Course Packet of Materials and Readings: Available at the Copy Center (first floor of the SMG building)
Additional Readings: Distributed in class

Class #1: January 16: Overview of the Nonprofit Sector – Introduction

  • Course Overview and Introductions
  • Size and Scope of the Nonprofit Sector
  • Review of Philanthropy Capstone Project
  • Review January 23rd assignment

Please come to class prepared to discuss the following questions:

  1. What type of experience have you had (if any) with a nonprofit organization? What were the positive and negative aspects of that experience?
  2. What nonprofit organization do you admire and why?
  3. What specific knowledge or tools do you hope to take away from this course? How could it be helpful to you after you leave Boston University?

Please write up to two pages answering these questions. This assignment is:

Due Friday, January 18th by 5:00pm in the SMGtools Assignments Tab

Introductory Readings (in course packet):

  • Read: Bornstein, David, How to Change the World “The Fixed Determination of Indomitable Will”, Chapter 4
  • Read: A Primer on Nonprofit Organizations; Gita Gulati-Partee

Class #2: January 23: Overview of the Nonprofit Sector – Size and Scope

  • Size and Scope of the Nonprofit Sector (continued)
  • Legal classification of nonprofits including foundations; tax exempt status
  • Funding nonprofit organizations
  • Brainstorm and Discussion of MG455 Donor Advised Fund Guidelines
  • Issues/problems to address
  • Eligible grantees
  • Outreach


  • Read: America’s Nonprofit Sector: A Primer; Lester Salamon
  • Read: The Looking Glass World of Nonprofit Money: Managing in For-Profits’ Shadow Universe; Clara Miller http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/section/704.html
  • Skim: The US NP Sector 2001 (National Council of NP Associations)

DUE: Issue Essay: Submit a 1-2 page essay identifying the issue or organization that you would fund if the decision was yours alone. Why is this issue or organization important to you or to society? How will addressing this issue make a difference in the world? What difference will your funding make? Be prepared to be called upon to share your decision with the class.

Class #3: January 28: Philanthropy Bootcamp – What is Effective Philanthropy?

  • What is effective philanthropy? Is it possible to do a bad job giving away money?
  • Assignment of Topic/Issue Teams
  • Brainstorm and Discussion of MG455 Donor Advised Fund Guidelines
  • Review February 4th assignment


Class #4: January 30: Philanthropy Bootcamp—Starting a Foundation

  • What issues do you need to consider when starting a new foundation?
  • What lessons from the Charity Navigator website are relevant to our work?
  • In class team time to work on Feb 4 presentations
  • Discuss criteria for Donor Advised Fund


  • Prepare for February 4th presentations

Class #5: February 4: Philanthropy Bootcamp—The Funder’s Dilemma

  • Team topic/issue presentations


  • Teams will prepare a 7 minute presentation on their issue or topic
  • See assignment details under the Assignments tab of SMGtools course website

Class #6: February 6: Philanthropy Bootcamp – The Funder’s Dilemma (continued)

  • Continue discussion of topic/issue presentations
  • Determine guidelines and criteria for BU Donor Advised Fund

Class #7: February 11: Managing in Nonprofit Organizations – The Mission is the Reason

  • What role does the mission play in a nonprofit organization?
  • What is “mission drift”?
  • What’s the difference between a mission and a vision?
  • Draft mission statement for BU Donor Advised Fund


Class #8: February 13: Managing in Nonprofit Organizations – Managing Well

  • What are the key characteristics of a well-functioning nonprofit organization?
  • What key characteristics are important to the MG455 Donor Advised Fund?
  • How will you make sure that the organizations you fund are well managed?
  • Discuss/refine criteria for funding projects
  • Continue discussion/action on how to do outreach to eligible nonprofit organizations (if necessary)

Special Guest: Peter Brinckerhoff

  • Read: Brinckerhoff, Ch. 3, What Works: The Characteristics of a Successful Not-for-Profit
  • Review Mission Based Management website and Peter Brinckerhoff’s bio at: http://www.missionbased.com/

Class #9: February 19: Managing in Nonprofit Organizations – Key Challenges

  • Is managing in the nonprofit sector any different from managing in the for-profit sector?
  • What are the key differentiators if any?
  • What challenges does Fr. Costello face and what should he do to begin to address them?
  • Donor Advised Fund site visit/grant evaluation teams announced


  • Read: It’s All about Passion, Master
  • Read: What Businesses Can Learn from Nonprofit Organizations, Drucker
  • Prepare Case: Father Costello
  • Please review case questions posted on SMGtools

Class #10: February 20: Managing in Nonprofit Organizations – What is Success?

  • How are nonprofit organizations measured?
  • How do you know if an organization is having an impact?
  • What methods do nonprofits use to measure impact?
  • Discuss and determine criteria; review evaluation process for grantees


DUE February 22: All identified grantees should receive an electronic invitation to apply for funding from the Donor Advised Fund by this date; see SMG tools for draft letter. Note: you can begin scheduling site visits of organizations you anticipate you will want to visit. These visits often take up to two weeks to schedule so be sure to begin the process of scheduling prior to spring break.

Class #11: February 25: Nonprofit Management – The Budget

  • Role of the budget process in the nonprofit organization
  • Review budget assignment


  • Read: Securing Your Organization’s Future, Seltzer, “Developing Budgets” pages 65-82.
  • Prepare Case: The Theater Budget
  • Case questions posted on smgtools site

Class #12: February 27: Nonprofit Management: Governance

  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the nonprofit board of directors?
  • What are the legal responsibilities of a nonprofit board member?
  • What role should the Executive Director play in regards to the Board of Directors?


  • Read: All excerpts from the Box Project (in case packet)
  • Read: The Complete Guide to Nonprofit Management, Chapter Two, “Working Together: Maximizing Board and Staff Effectiveness,” Smith, et. al.

Class #13: March 3: Nonprofit Management – The Budget (continued)

  • Budget exercise in-class review
  • Donor Advised Fund Activities

Due: Budget exercise assignment

Class #14: March 5: Nonprofit Management: The Balance Sheet

  • How does the balance sheet of a nonprofit differ from that of a for profit organization?
  • How do you measure financial health in a nonprofit organization?


  • Read: “Know Your Ratios? Everyone Else Does” by Jennifer A. Lammers, Nonprofit Quarterly, Spring 2003
  • Read: Brinkerhoff, Mission Based Management, Chapter 10, Financial Empowerment
  • Prepare Case: Identify the Nonprofit, HBS
  • Case questions available on smgtools

No class on March 10th and 12th…enjoy spring break!

Class #15: March 17: Donor Advised Fund—Round One: Application Review and Site Visit Protocol

  • In class review of status of applications (number, amount of requests, etc.)
  • Review site visit protocol
  • Conducting an effective site visit, what to look for, etc.

Homework: Begin to review applications as they arrive. Confirm or schedule site visits.

Class #16: March 19: Donor Advised Fund – Team Time

  • There will be no formal class held on this date
  • Teams should use this time to continue to review applications, confirm or schedule site visits or make site visits if already scheduled

Homework: Review grant applications in teams and/or individually; continue scheduling and attending site visits

Class #17: March 24: Nonprofit Management: Fundraising and Philanthropy

  • What lessons from “Programming on a Blank Slate: A Case on Grantmaking in Rural Poverty” can be applied to our challenge?


  • Prepare Case: Programming on a Blank Slate: A Case on Grantmaking in Rural Poverty (case previously distributed in class)
  • Case questions posted on SMG tools

Class #18: March 26: Nonprofit Management – Fundraising and Philanthropy

  • What are the various sources of support for a nonprofit organization?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each source?
  • Status report on team visits; team time


  • Read: “The Many Sources of Funding,” Securing Your Organization’s Future, Chapter 6
  • Continue site visits

Class #19: March 31: Nonprofit Management: Fundraising and Philanthropy

  • How much say should donors have in how their funds are used?


  • Prepare Case: Philanthropy and the Central Park Children’s Zoo
  • Questions posted on smgtools site
  • Continue site visits and team meetings

Class #20: April 2: Social Entrepreneurship: The Next Generation of Enterprises

  • What is social entrepreneurship?
  • What differentiates a social entrepreneur from traditional entrepreneurs?
  • What’s the difference between social entrepreneurship and nonprofit organizations?
  • Excerpts from New Heroes video


DUE: Site visits must be concluded by Friday, April 4th

Class #21: April 7: Social Entrepreneurship: Starting a New Venture

  • How to start a nonprofit organization or social enterprise
  • Common challenges in start up organizations


  • Skim: BoardSource, Starting a Nonprofit Corporation (in case packet)
  • Skim: Starting a Nonprofit at: http://hurwitassociates.com/l_start_forming.html
  • Optional: Starting a Nonprofit at: http://nonprofit.about.com
  • Prepare Case: NFTE (distributed in class on April 2)

Class #22: April 9: Donor Advised Fund: Review Presentation Guidelines and Team Time

  • In class team time to discuss funding process and recommendations
  • Class discussion of site visits and deliberations

Class #23: April 14: Site Visit Presentations

  • Each team will present their site visit resultsAssignment details posted on SMGtools

Due: Site Visit Presentations

Class #24: April 16: Site Visit Presentations

  • Each team will present their site visit results
  • Assignment details posted on SMGtools

Due: Site Visit Presentations

No class on Monday, April 21st due to Patriot’s Day Holiday!

Class #25: April 23: Funding Deliberations and Voting

  • Final deliberations including run off voting

Class #26: April 28: Next Generation Nonprofits: Future Trends

  • Trends in philanthropy and nonprofit management
  • Strategy frameworks for successful nonprofit organizations

Homework: TBA

Class #27: April 30: Course Wrap-up and Evaluations; Grant Awards Ceremony

Due: Final Paper

Class Attendance, Preparation and Participation (25%): You are expected to attend class regularly and on time. If for any reason you must miss a class, please email me in advance. You may earn partial participation credit for one absence by submitting, before the missed class, a 1-2 page case analysis for the case of the day or reflections on the reading of the day. A second absence may result in a reduction of your final grade, with a third missed class guaranteeing a lower grade. If you miss a class, you are responsible for obtaining information regarding any class issues discussed that day and for making arrangements to get any handouts that were distributed.

You are expected to come to class ready to participate in an active discussion, having read the readings, thought about their relevance to the case(s), and prepared the assigned study questions. On days when speakers have provided background materials, you also should have reviewed that material and thought about questions or issues you would like them to address.

Because the case method relies on both preparation and presentation of an analysis, your performance will be rated, in part, on the quality of your contributions to the case discussions. Since the grading of class contribution frequently is a confusing topic, let me describe the criteria in detail.

I will evaluate your contributions to the case discussions as follows:

A/A- Contributes in a significant and regular way to case discussions, regularly (a) undertaking key analyses from information in the case, (b) applying chapter concepts to the case analysis, (c) moving the discussion ahead, and/or (d) making comments that bridge discussion points in the case, thereby integrating the discussion and helping to make it more coherent.

B+/B/B- Makes comments that regularly point out important case facts, but is not particularly analytical and/or misses the application of chapter concepts to the case. This grade category also includes people who do A/A- analyses of some cases but do not contribute in a similar fashion to the discussion of other cases.

C+/C/C- Makes comments that restate case facts but that are not particularly pertinent to the discussion, or that slow the class down by virtue of their peripheral or non-existent relationship to the subject under discussion These comments also may reflect a lack of understanding of how the chapter concepts apply to the case situation. This grade category also includes people who do B+/B/B- analyses of some cases but do not contribute in a similar fashion to the discussion of other cases.

D Makes only a few comments during the entire semester

Failing No classroom contributions.

School: Boston University
Professor: Kristen McCormack
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