Non-Profit Theory and Practice
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Spring 2018 quarter
Non-profit organizations provide an immense impact to solving societal problems, developing entrepreneurial solutions and serving the public good. Compared to most “developed” countries, US law and civic practice encourage people to band together to try to solve public problems themselves, rather than rely on formal government action. As a result, our society relies heavily on nonprofit entities to deliver social and health services, support the arts, and assist with many other important tasks. Although interest in nonprofits has exploded in recent years, the sector largely remains an enigma. We still tend to define the sector based on what it isn’t (profit-seeking), other ways of defining it have not gained traction (third sector, civil sector, voluntary sector…), and the reality that nonprofits can’t be run like either businesses or government agencies is poorly appreciated. It is critical for us to try to better understand the sector, and continue exploring how non-profit operations take advantage of their unique status as “mission-driven” entitles.
This course will focus on the characteristics and topics of the nonprofit sector and aims to provide an introduction to what it takes to manage a nonprofit effectively. Nonprofits exist symbiotically with the philanthropic sector and often depend extensively on foundation and government funding. Nonprofit organizations also have unusual governance structures, rely heavily on volunteers, and are mission-driven in more fundamental ways than public organizations. They must also manage the tension between their mission and funders' demands, which often conflict. Nonprofits also are increasingly involved in policy making at the local and international level. They provide critical social and health services and so have insights into public problems and solutions that are essential to managing chronic issues such as homelessness. Finally, funders in the sector are demanding increased professionalism, which in turn is being supported as more people enter the sector with a background in nonprofit management education.
Location and Schedule