!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: The Distinguishing Features of Nonprofit Organizations

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Distinguishing Features of Nonprofit Organizations

Cate Doty's article on "Training to Lead Nonprofits," which appeared in the November 11, 2008 edition of the New York Times, provides a summary of the activities that distinguish nonprofit organizations from for-profit enterprises. These activities are:
  • Fund-raising

  • Community engagement

  • Meeting ethical standards and legal requirements specific to non-profits

  • Volunteer management
Concomitantly, it is these activities that require focused attention when training individuals to fill leadership roles at nonprofits. The Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation at Arizona State University, founded in 1999, has identified five areas that their experience and research indicate are essential for nonprofit managers to study:
  • Governance — the legal responsibilities of boards of directors and how boards operate.

  • Financial management — the basic accounting and audit requirements for nonprofits. Subtopics include stewardship of the organization's assets, assurance of adequate resources, development and approval of an annual budget, current and year-to-date financial reports, and assurance that the organization is prepared for the annual audit functions.

  • Program knowledge — how to develop programming and evaluate its effectiveness.

  • Resource development — how to develop donor relationships that lead to effective fund-raising; foundation and corporate fund-raising.

  • Nonprofit law and ethics — what specific laws to know and how to understand and make decisions that are ethical and sound.
More detailed specs (pdf) for graduate and undergraduate degree programs have been developed by Nonprofit Academic Centers Council. (See yesterday's post for links to some resources that can help in developing training for people who are already at nonprofit organizations or who want to prepare for a career in the nonprofit sector.)


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