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Program Overview

Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations

Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations Certificate Program

The program is designed for those seeking to advance their careers in fundraising and nonprofit administration through a combination of hands-on skills and theoretical knowledge, taught by practitioners in the field from major nonprofit institutions, research universities and consulting firms.

Students may choose any four courses for a customized certificate in "Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations." Those seeking a more targeted learning experience may choose to complete the "Fundraising Professional" or "Nonprofit Professional" certificate track.


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About Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations

Featured Faculty

Paul Winters, Legal Issues in Philanthropy

Paul Winters

Like many people who work with nonprofit organizations, Paul Winters has a passion for helping people. On top of his law practice, he teaches the Legal Issues in Philanthropy course at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies (SPS). The course “gives students an introductory set of legal tools to help them navigate regulatory compliance issues, so they can get back to the things that drew them into serving in the nonprofit community in the first place.”

He continued, “People in nonprofits have a passion to affect positive change in the world, and so they dive in, but then what happens is they begin to bump into some of the regulatory compliance legal issues they didn’t anticipate. No one enters the nonprofit sector thinking ‘I really want to get embroiled in a legal dispute.’”

Read more about faculty member Paul Winters' journey toward nonprofit law and teaching.

Tracks for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations

Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations Program Courses

Explore all the Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations Program Courses for detail on the program's offerings.

Certificate Requirements for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations

To be awarded a certificate of completion, students must complete four courses. Required courses for each certificate are listed below.

Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations Certificate Track
  • Take any four (4) courses from the list below (Core or Elective).
  • Students may substitute Leadership courses as well
  • There is no need to get pre-approval as long as students follow the above guidelines
  • Questions on other potential courses can be addressed to
Fundraising Professional Certificate Track
  • PHIL_NP 315-0 Donor Psychology and The Ask
  • PHIL_NP 378-0 Major Gift Fundraising
  • PHIL_NP 381-0 Grantsmanship and Program Development
  • One course from the Leadership certificate program or Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations certificate program
Nonprofit Professional Certificate Track
  • LEAD_ART 200-0 Leading, Acting, and Thinking Strategically
  • PHIL_NP 320-0 Financial Management of Nonprofits
  • PHIL_NP 325-0 Nonprofit Governance, Mission and Strategic Planning
  • PHIL_NP 330-0 Legal Issues in Philanthropy

Grantsmanship for the Research Professional

Grantsmanship for the Research Professional (PHIL_NP 380-0)

While this is not a separate track, this course is a powerful resource for both researchers at all stages and research administrators working in any research-intensive environments or discipline who are pursuing grant opportunities from government, corporate, and foundation sectors.

Tuition and Financial Aid for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations

Tuition for Philanthropy and Nonprofit courses varies depending on the course between $625 and $1,025. To complete the program, you can expect to spend between $3,800 to $4,000, not including books. Complete details can be found on the Tuition and Financial Aid for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations page.

Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations Faculty

Instructors for this program have a range of expertise, specializations and work experience. Read about their qualifications on our Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations Faculty page.

Career Options for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations

Read more on the Career Options for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations page.

Find out more about Northwestern's Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations

Contact Professional Development Team

The Professional Development Team at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies can be a resource to you for inquiries regarding our certificate programs.

Core Courses Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations

Core Courses:Course Detail
Leading, Acting, and Thinking Strategically <> LEAD_ART 200-0

Strategic Thinking and Acting always appears in the list of highly desired skills for leaders, managers, and key individual contributors. This highly interactive class will use simulations and real life examples to teach you practical strategic thinking practices that you can immediately put to use. In addition, you gain insight into the strengths and development areas of your leadership style, and how your style can help you think and act strategically.

This course uses an adult learning approach. You will be actively involved and apply course concepts to actual situations and case studies in class. This enables you to practice skills and use tools that can be immediately applied when you go back to your work environment. We will apply strategic thinking tools including: Scenario Planning, Systems thinking, SWOT analysis, and Mind Mapping. We will use the DiSC Work of Leaders Assessment to understand your Leadership Strengths, Development areas, and how those relate to Strategy and Leading People. Instructor will use a combination of lecture, facilitation, and in-class coaching. You will also create a Personal Strategic Plan to help you with your next steps in your professional development.


Required Course Preparation:

Students will be provided with a link to take a DiSC assessment prior to the first day of class; learning activities will be tailored to each course based on assessment results.

View LEAD_ART 200-0 Sections
Donor Psychology and The Ask <> PHIL_NP 315-0

This course explores what makes people want to give money and time to support nonprofits. Students will gain both a historical perspective, as well as opportunities for simulation and role-play for the “big ask.” Students will also explore the key fundraising questions driving organizational success, sustainability, and strategy, while also focusing on what drives donors to give, from tax strategy to intergenerational planning to career trajectory to family wealth dynamics.

View PHIL_NP 315-0 Sections
Financial Management of Nonprofits <> PHIL_NP 320-0

This course is designed to provide specific and relevant information about the various aspects of financial management and reporting for a nonprofit organization. Participants will be exposed to the complexities of nonprofit organization financial statements, including the impacts of fund accounting, donor restrictions and other unique reporting issues. The internal control environment and its role in financial management and reporting will also be discussed, along with specific tax and audit issues affecting nonprofit organizations.

View PHIL_NP 320-0 Sections
Nonprofit Governance, Mission & Strategic Planning <> PHIL_NP 325-0

Want to help a nonprofit you care about be more strategic in a changing world? Do you desire to unleash the full potential of your nonprofit board and leaders? This course will help by providing an opportunity to learn and apply skills needed to lead and govern a nonprofit organization. Using a case study, interactive exercises let you practice crafting a mission statement and develop an organization’s strategy. You’ll also explore how to best recruit boards, structure committees, and run meetings to ensure effective leadership and oversight. Finally, you’ll have an opportunity to meet with proven leaders in the field to ask about their role in achieving successes and overcoming challenges while leading and governing their nonprofits.

View PHIL_NP 325-0 Sections
Legal Issues in Philanthropy <> PHIL_NP 330-0

This course on the law of not-for-profit corporations will take a detailed look at the organizational and operational aspects of a tax-exempt charitable organization in Illinois. Students will engage in the legal analysis of a hypothetical nonprofit corporation. State and federal tax laws and reporting requirements, revenue generating strategies (that will not jeopardize tax-exempt status), and management of human resources will be explored.

View PHIL_NP 330-0 Sections
Major Gift Fundraising <> PHIL_NP 378-0

This course emphasizes applied fundraising. It will focus on all aspects of the major gift program. Students will explore the role of the major gift program in the development process, and all aspects of its implementation from systems and strategies to the execution of the on-going program and the capital campaign.

Specific course objectives include, among others:

• Understand the major and planned gift practice within the comprehensive development program
• Better understand the historic models of fundraising and today’s donor-centered best practice
• Develop a compelling case for private support
• Learn how to implement a relationship management system
• Understand how private foundations and corporations give to nonprofit organizations

View PHIL_NP 378-0 Sections
Grantsmanship and Program Development <> PHIL_NP 381-0

This course will provide students an opportunity to learn and apply skills needed to develop effective programs and winning grant proposals that support a nonprofit’s strategic priorities. The course assists students in utilizing tools, frameworks, and concepts introduced in class and from readings to plan a program based on a case study. Interactive exercises let students practice crafting common elements found in corporate, foundation and government grant proposals, including a work plan, evaluation components, and a budget to fund the program developed for their case. By the end of the course, students are expected to have acquired the knowledge and skills in program planning, proposal writing, and evaluation to be confident in contributing to the development and funding of programs that advance their organization’s mission.

View PHIL_NP 381-0 Sections
Elective Courses:Course Detail
Grantsmanship for the Research Professional PHIL_NP 380-0

This executive education-style workshop course teaches and enhances skills associated with effective grant opportunity identification, preparation, writing, and submission to Researchers engaged in research as well as Research Administrators responsible for pursuing grant opportunities. Strategies for developing grant proposals that support both hypothesis-driven and need-based empirical research activities will be presented, with a focus on opportunities from government, corporate, and foundation sectors. The course is appropriate for Researchers at all levels (trainees through early/mid-career faculty) and Research Administrators conducting or supporting research in the biological, clinical, life sciences, medical and natural sciences; physical sciences and mathematics; social and behavioral sciences; engineering; law; and education. Topics covered in this two-day workshop course include: Grant Resources; Funding Agencies; Funding Opportunity Identification; Research Program Development; Pre- and Post-Award Compliance Primer; Proposal Planning; Proposal Components; Writing the Specific Aims and Narrative Sections; Budget Development; Review Process; Proposal Submission; and, Team Science.

View PHIL_NP 380-0 Sections
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