Studies & Degrees in Nonprofit Leadership and Management

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Nonprofit Leadership and Management is a field that deals with the management of non-profit organizations. These are usually assigned a director, who takes responsibility for the overall management and supervision of non-profit organizations. The non-profit’s mission statement and strategic plan would typically point to the duties of the group’s leader or director. His or her major duties would most likely include creating and implementing policies, as well as overseeing programs. Besides, a non-profit leader/director would take care of supervising other staff members and managing the organization’s day-to-day operations. He or she also oversees the budget and tries to ensure that the organization’s resources are being used effectively. A director frequently pursues fundraising opportunities, sometimes with the help of other development staff members. He or she usually is the primary representative or the 'face' of the organization. As the spokesperson, the director might engage in media relations and participate in public events.

Personal Qualities

To be involved in nonprofit leadership and management, you would most certainly need to have a genuine interest in the field, possess strong leadership and decision-making qualities. Other skills might include:

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Very good interpersonal skills
  • Creativity and enthusiasm
  • Problem-solving qualities
  • Willingness to travel and work long hours

Study Options

To be involved in non-profit leadership and management you would typically need at least a college degree and extensive professional experience.  A background in marketing and fundraising, accounting for non-profits, or non-profit administration could be good options. Furthermore, there are a number of non-profit focused graduate programs among which you might choose. For example, there are many Masters of Business Administration Degrees, which offer a variety of ‘twists’, focused on non-profits. Other examples are Master’s of Social Work, Master’s of Public Policy, and Master’s of Nonprofit Management. Such more specialized degrees would focus on areas like financial management for non-profit organizations, governance and organizational leadership, program development and other similar subjects.

Career Options

For the inexperienced jobseeker with an interest in nonprofits, there are many entry-level jobs and volunteer positions that can provide the experience needed to be successful in the area. These are roles that would usually provide support to the activities of non-profit organizations and keep things organized, so that upper level nonprofit professionals can focus on fundraising and marketing activities. Moreover, there are internships available for new graduates as well as those who want to get involved with non-profit activities. In this way you would be able to gain some experience before you advance to a leadership or managerial position in the non-profit sector. On the other hand, if you are an individual with sound background and ideas, you can consider forming your own non-profit organization.