Syllabus for NPM-670

Critical Issues in Nonprofit Management 


Critical Issues in Nonprofit Management addresses current nonprofit management issues and trends that have both immediate and emerging impact on the U.S. civil sector. The course will cover issues of governance (accountability, transparency, and responsibility), performance management, and infrastructure development. It will also address new approaches to marketing, public relations, and development activities. Keeping in mind the contemporary economic environment, the course will examine new revenue streams for nonprofits in terms of their utility and long-term effects. The major goal of this course is to provide students with benchmarking theories and practical tools that will allow them to analyze contemporary management challenges and construct innovative solutions.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Evaluate elements of current nonprofit governance reform.
  2. Analyze regulatory requirements and human resource patterns for nonprofit organization management.
  3. Assess the effectiveness of various performance management methods.
  4. Evaluate the impact of current marketing and public relations strategies on fundraising and bottom-line results.
  5. Assess non-profit activities aimed at generating for-profit entities and new revenue streams.
  6. Analyze, discuss, and critique new funding philosophies relative to capacity building, sustainability, and scalability.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the College's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbooks

  1. Firstenberg, P.B. (2009). The 21st century nonprofit: Managing in the age of governance. New York: Foundation Center.

ISBN-13: 978-1-59542-249-1

  1. Andresen, K. (2006). Robin hood marketing: Stealing corporate savvy to sell just causes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

ISBN- 13: 978-0-7879-8148-8

  1. Goldberg, S.H. (2009). Billions of drops in millions of buckets. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  

ISBN-13: 978-0-470-45467-1


Critical Issues in Nonprofit Management is a three-credit graduate course, consisting of four (4) modules.  Modules include objectives, topics, study materials and activities.  Module titles are listed below.

  1. Module 1: Governance Reform

  1. Module 2: Performance Management

  1. Module 3: Marketing, Public Relations and Development Strategies

  1. Module 4: New Revenue Streams for Nonprofits


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, complete modules papers, and complete both a midterm and final paper. See below for more details.

Consult the course Calendar for due dates.

Discussion Forums

Within each module you will participate in one or more online class discussion forums. All discussion forums take place asynchronously on the class Discussion Board.

Online discussions provide an opportunity for you to interact with your classmates. During this aspect of the course, you respond to prompts that assist you in developing your ideas, you share those ideas with your classmates, and you comment on their posts. Discussion board interactions promote development of a community of learners, critical thinking, and exploratory learning.

Please participate in online discussions as you would in constructive face-to-face discussions. You are expected to post well-reasoned and thoughtful reflections for each item, making reference, as appropriate, to your readings. You are also expected to reply to your classmates' posts in a respectful, professional, and courteous manner. You may, of course, post questions asking for clarification or further elucidation on a topic.

Located within the Evaluation Rubrics section of the course Web site is the rubric used in the grading of online discussions.

Written Assignments

Each module contains several types of assignments:

  1. Written Assignments (three per module): These assignments ask you to discuss or analyze key course concepts in written assignments of 1 to 3 pages in length.
  2. Module Papers (one per module): In each module you will read an article about the nonprofit field and analyze it in a paper of 2 to 5 pages. Some of these papers will involve case studies.

A Note About Written Assignments and Papers

Papers are intended to challenge you to show that you can apply the concepts, discuss relevant examples, and present your response in a concise but academically rigorous paper. While additional research is not required, exceptional papers will integrate relevant information and examples from external sources (with sources cited in correct APA format). When a paper is presented as a Case Study (as in Modules 1 and 4), more research may be appropriate. If the firm is hypothetical, extensive external research is not required. But when a case study deals with a real organization, program, or individual, you should do some additional research and reading to supplement information as given in the case.

Located within the Evaluation Rubrics section of the course Web site are the rubrics used in the grading of written assignments and module papers.

Midterm Paper

Your midterm paper will be a professional book review (of 3 to 6 pages) modeled on the type of review one might see in a trade or other professional journal. You will choose a book (a list of books is provided, but you may also choose a different book as long as you have your choice approved by your mentor) and write a practitioner-based review of it. A full description of the midterm paper is found in the Midterm Paper area of the course Web site.

This paper is due between modules 2 and 3; check the course Calendar for the due date so that you make sure you’ll have time to obtain and read the book before writing and submitting the paper.

Located within the Evaluation Rubrics section of the course Web site is the rubric used in the grading of the midterm paper.

Final Paper

Your final assessment will be a paper that allows you to synthesize and apply what you have learned in this course. You will read Steven Goldberg 's book Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets and write an 8- to 10-page paper that critiques Goldberg's ideas in light of other reading you have done in this course. Be sure to follow accepted research approaches and citation format (APA). A full description of the project and its requirements is found in the Final Paper area of the course Web site.

Located within the Evaluation Rubrics section of the course Web site is the rubric used in the grading of the final paper.

A Note About Research

The use of Wikipedia or other online encyclopedias for graduate-level papers is inappropriate. Aside from the uneven quality of the information that may be found in these sources, the real issue is that the information presented in these sources is "already digested." Use of such sources is an unacceptable shortcut for the graduate student. Students gathering information from these sites are essentially obtaining analyses done by someone else, not doing the work themselves. Rather than exploring the literature on a subject, such students are merely using the words of others who have already taken this vital step in academic research. It is imperative that graduate students be able to search the more academically-oriented literature, sift through useful (and not so useful) information, analyze, synthesize, and report the results of their activities. All of these steps are bypassed if information is cited from an online site such as Wikipedia. To sum up: Using information summarized or annotated by someone else is an unacceptable shortcut for a graduate student.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Online discussions (4)—10 percent
  2. Written assignments (12)—30 percent
  3. Module papers (4)—15 percent 
  4. Midterm paper—15 percent
  5. Final paper—30 percent 

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:
























Below 73

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or higher on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, projects, etc.). Graduate students must maintain a B average overall to remain in good academic standing.


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.

  1. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course, how to schedule exams and arrange for proctors, and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.

  1. Arrange to take your examination(s) by following the instructions in this Syllabus and the Online Student Handbook.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting activities, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.

  1. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.


Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized activity, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.


Using someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > "Citing Sources.")

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else's. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

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