Program Overview:

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.

Registration is open for Winter 2018:

  • PHIL_NP 381-0 Grantsmanship and Program Development — Register by Saturday, January 13

  • PHIL_NP 320-0 Financial Management of Nonprofits — Register by Thursday, February 1

Save your seat today!

Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organization Track

A customized course of study where students pick any four courses from the list below, with substitutions allowed from the Fundamentals of Leadership Program. 


Audience: Those with multiple roles within a nonprofit or those looking for a customized learning experience, blending fundraising, leadership and management.

Fundraising Professional Track

Hands-on skills program to teach students how to effectively raise money through major gifts, planned gifts, and capital campaigns.  In addition, students will learn about the psychology of donors and what makes people give.


Audience: Frontline fundraising personnel such as major gift officers, annual fund directors, capital campaign managers, development associates

Nonprofit Professional Track

Understand financial and legal structures of nonprofits as well as how to write mission statements, strategic plans and work with boards


Audience: Managers and directors in nonprofits and those that want to start a nonprofit

Certificate Requirements

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 profdev@northwestern.edu

Fundraising Professional Certificate Track

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 (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.

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. 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.

Core Courses:

  • LEAD_ART 200-0 Leading, Acting, and Thinking Strategically
  • PHIL_NP 315-0 Donor Psychology and The Ask
  • PHIL_NP 320-0 Financial Management of Nonprofits
  • PHIL_NP 325-0 Nonprofit Governance, Mission & Strategic Planning
  • PHIL_NP 330-0 Legal Issues in Philanthropy
  • PHIL_NP 378-0 Major Gift Fundraising
  • PHIL_NP 381-0 Grantsmanship and Program Development

Elective Courses:

  • PHIL_NP 380-0 Grantsmanship for the Research Professional