NPL 273  Introduction to Nonprofit Leadership

Term:  Spring, 2007

Instructor:     Tony Filipovitch, 106d Morris Hall, 507-389-5035 (office), 507-388-2264 (home)

Office Hours:   My office hours are posted here.  I am available in my office at those times (or other times by appointment).  I also check my e-mail daily (usually several times during the day), and have an answering machine on both my home and office phone. 

There is no reason to flounder around, unsure of what “he wants” or confused about what you are doing; and even if everything is going fine with the coursework, there is more to learning than completing the assignments.  I encourage you to visit me, in person or at a distance by phone or e-mail, many times during the course.


·        Herman, Robert D. 2004.  The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management, 2nd EditionSan FranciscoJossey-Bass.  [This book is expensive, but you will also use it for NPL 473.  It is also an excellent reference and I encourage you not to resell it but to keep it on your shelf for professional reference throughout your career.  It is not an easy read—but it will reward many rereadings.]

·        Warda, Mark.  2002.  How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation, 2nd Ed.  Naperville, IL:  Sphinx Publishing.

Course Calendar

Due date







MN Atty. General’s Nonprofit Organization Resources

Post to discussion board before 1/25

Journal Essay; Discussion Post;

Historical/Philosophical Foundations


1.  Historical Perspectives , “A Model of Christian Charity,” &  MN Nonprofit Economy

Herman, Chs. 1 & 4

Getting to Know Them

Essay for Ch. 1 & 4; discussion;

“Getting to Know” posting


2.  Social Institutions and discussions about political action

Herman, Ch. 2

Game of Xs & Ys

Essay for Ch.2 & discussion

Public Policy Issues


3.  Legal Framework of nonprofits

Warda, entire book & MCN “How to Start a Nonprofit




         3a.  Federal rules re.  nonprofits

IRS Code, Sect. 501

Build Your Own

“Build” assgt. 1


         3b.  State regulation of   corporations

MN Guide to Charities’ Law


Discussion  & Response for Legal Issues; “Build” assgt. 2


4.  Lobbying & MCN Advocacy

Herman, Ch. 10


Essay for Ch. 10; discussion; final “Build” assgt.


Internationalization of nonprofits

Herman, Ch. 5

Doing Well

Getting to Know Them 2

Essay for Ch. 5; discussion; “Getting to Know” posting


6.  Ethical decision-making, MCF Principles for Grantmakers, and MCN Principles and Practices

Herman, Ch. 9

Cumbria case study

Attend Board meeting by now; Essay for Ch. 9; discussion; Cumbria posting

Organizational Design


Board Leadership & Development, Good Management Principles,  What Should I Know, MCN Board Governance Basics, & Carver’s Policy Governance Model

Herman, Ch. 6

Greenhill Community Center case study

Essay for Ch. 6 & discussion; Greenhill Case


8.  Staff functions & duties

Herman, Ch. 7


Essay for Ch. 7 & discussion;


9.  Strategic Planning

Herman, Ch. 8


Essay for Ch. 8 & discussion;


10.  Strategic Alliances & Organizational Change

Herman, Ch. 11


Essay for Ch. 11 & discussion


11.  Careers in nonprofit organizations


Design your professional portfolio

Essay for Careers & discussion; portfolio due


Finals— service learning report due; course evaluation due


 Course Overview:

This course provides an introduction to the third (or nonprofit) sector.  It is designed to provide undergraduate students with a potential career path, or to enhance the skills of those who have some experience in the third sector.  This course is also a foundation for students working toward a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership.  The course addresses the historical and philosophical foundations in nonprofit leadership, elements of  board/committee development, public policy, and the trust the third sector holds in relationship to other social sectors.   

Learning Outcomes:

Students will demonstrate competency in knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to function in the following areas:

    Historical/Philosophical Foundations of the Nonprofit Sector

1.      Role of nonprofit organizations in meeting social, religious, human service and other needs

2.      Philanthropic nature of nonprofit organizations & relationship to other sectors of society


Public Policy Issues in the Nonprofit Sector

3.      Legal status of nonprofits

a.       Federal government

                                                                           i.      IRS Code & classification of services

b.      State Attorney General Office

                                                                           i.      Articles of Incorporation & role of membership

                                                                         ii.      Bylaws

                                                                        iii.      Annual filings

4.      Lobbying

5.      Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

6.      Ethical decision making


Organization Design of Nonprofit Organizations

7.      Board function & duties

8.      Staff functions & duties

9.      Strategic planning & challenges to success/viability

10.  Organizational transformation

11.  Careers in nonprofit organizations


Instructional Management System & Communication Protocols: 

·        The course will use D2L as the instructional management system.  Discussion lists, assignments, grade rosters, and other course management issues will be handled through that site. 

·        The software for this course will be PC-based Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, or compatibles.  I prefer to receive e-mail and course submissions to my e-mail address (not to D2L), and I can only open Microsoft Word or text files (if you are using, say, WordPerfect, make sure to send any files to me in .txt or .rtf format). 

·        I will communicate with you using your official MSU e-mail address; if this is not your preferred e-mail provider, make sure you have set your MSU e-mail account to forward to your preferred address (instructions are available from  the help desk at or 507-389-6654).

·        I generally will reply to e-mails within 48 hours (give me an additional 24 hours over the weekends), unless I have notified the class through D2L that I expect to be away from my computer (e.g., when I am attending a national conference).  If you do not hear from me within that time, please resend your question or comment as it may have been lost.

·        The library has a document delivery service, and can send books or other publications that circulate (i.e., no items from the reserve or reference collection) to you if you are an online student.  Information is available at  Remember, it will take some time for items to arrive by mail (and even longer if they have to be ordered from another library), so give yourself enough lead time if you plan to use this service.  The library also has a good link for other services offered for distance learning students.  If you are having trouble finding appropriate articles for the course, you can get help from the University’s reference librarians.


Are You Ready for an Online Course?

There are a number of websites that can help you decide whether or not an online course is for you (for example, Minnesota Online or Athabascan University or the University System of Georgia’s SORT).  For starters, you should consider the following questions:

  • Will you be able to devote 6-8 hours per week for this course (even if you are traveling, are ill, or have family emergencies)?  And do you have the support of family and friends to put aside this amount of time and effort?  It is easy to think that the work for an online class can be “fit in” to whatever time comes open during the week.  Often, when students end up dropping the class it is because they simply did not budget enough time in their week to do the work required.
  • Are you comfortable with time management and working independently with only final deadlines to guide you?  Online learning shifts much more of the burden for scheduling and planning to the student.  You won’t have the advantage of regular class meeting times to discipline your work habits.  If you are not also an on-campus student, you might not have the advantage of running into your classmates around the campus where you can “check in” on progress and solve little problems.  If this is a challenge for you, check out
  • Are you comfortable working primarily in a text-based format, which means reading well, writing well and having the ability to follow written directions?  While I will try to provide as many opportunities as possible for using the entire range of learning styles, online learning does favor students who learn by reading.
  • Do you have the skills to communicate through the Internet, including
    • checking your e-mail daily ( )
    • using e-mail or the phone to get your questions answered,
    • interacting with your classmates through the Internet?
  • Do you have the technical skills to use an online environment, including
    • producing, saving, and uploading documents
    • doing research using the Web ( )
    • using the “Track Changes” feature of Microsoft Word (if you don’t know this one, look it up using Word’s “Help” assistant)?


In order to effectively address the competency areas, this course will combine (online) classroom and field projects.  Students are expected to actively participate and contribute positively to the learning process.


Students are required to read and understand the chapter(s) assigned at the beginning of each topic.   I have included my notes on each chapter; they are a guide, but not a substitute for reading the chapter.  There will not be any tests or quizzes over the material in the readings; rather, you will demonstrate how well you have understood the readings through your weekly essays.

Weekly Essay & Class Discussion:

Essay:  Each week, students will identify an article or published story about a nonprofit agency that is related to the topic for that week. By “article,” I mean an article published in a refereed journal (you can find many of them on JSTOR) or an in-depth article published in a national newspaper (NY Times, Washington Post, Minneapolis StarTribune, St Paul Pioneer Press, etc.)—not just a news story, but a “feature article.” If you aren’t sure about the difference, look at this description.  If you want to get help from a reference librarian, you can do it through e-mail or online chat at MSU Library’s “Ask a Librarian.”  You will post to the class a minimum 250-word essay which identifies the article (give full citation using any standard format), briefly summarizes its content, and discusses the relevance/impact of the article to the topic for that week.  Post your essay to the “Unit Discussions” section of the Discussion Board.  I will assess your essay based on the number of concepts from the reading which you apply to the situation described in the article, and the insight/appropriateness of the application you make.

Discussion:  Since we do not meet as a class, the closest thing we have to this is the discussion lists on D2L.  I will pose questions to start out the discussion, and I will monitor (but may or may not respond) the discussion.  Each student must post a response to the question and at least one response to other student’s postings (you may respond to either the essay or the discussion posting).  It is important that you post your responses with enough time for your classmates to reply within the time allotted for each unit; do not get behind in your discussion work.  For credit, you must use examples, details, and credible support for your position, and refer to relevant readings (your text, at a minimum) using standard citation format (you cannot provide credible support without citing what others have written!).  You will not receive credit if you do not provide support for your responses.  While I will not track whether or not you read all of the postings, I strongly encourage it.  You have as much to learn from each other as from me.

There is an etiquette to online discussion.  I want you to engage in open, frank dialogue; but I also expect you to be respectful of each other.  Comments that are harmful, abusive, offensive, or vulgar will not be tolerated.  If I sense any problems, I will intervene.  Should you feel intimidated or not respected, please contact me so we can consider how to proceed.    A few hints: 

·        Re-read your messages before you send them—once it is sent, you are committed. 

·        Never assume that an e-mail is confidential; they are easily copied and forwarded to others. 

·        Also, be careful with humor; absent  body language and other contextual clues, it can easily be misinterpreted.


Service Learning:

Each student will identify a nonprofit organization with which to volunteer over the course of the semester.  During that time, the student must

1.      Arrange for a “mentor” within the organization who is willing to provide “insider” insight into what the student is observing in the organization and learning in the classroom.

2.      Attend at least one Board meeting (before Unit 6), to observe the operation of a nonprofit Board and the relationship between Board and staff.  Boards often meet only once a month, so you should plan to attend the first Board meeting that is available.

3.      Assist the Board or staff in providing at least some of the “service” of the organization.

4.      Prepare a final report on the organization, describing the organization and its operation (who, what, where, when, why, how), and relating it to the 11 topics we will be covering in class.  This essay (10 page minimum) will be due by the Final Exam date.


Throughout the course, I will assign exercises, sometimes to each of you individually, sometimes to all of you as a group, to give you the opportunity to practice the skills that you are learning about.  Each exercise will contain its own instructions and deadlines.


Course Expectations:

Attendance & Class Participation:

It is your responsibility to post your responses in a timely fashion, interact with your mentors, and engage in online class activities.  I expect all the work for each week to be posted by 6PM of the date listed in the Course Calendar.  If there is an emergency which requires you to be away from your computer, please contact me immediately.  I will give partial credit for assignments that come in during the next time period; assignments posted after that will not earn course credit unless there is a prior agreement.  You are paying for this class—make sure to get your “money’s worth.”  Most importantly, this is an excellent foundation of knowledge for future activities, and it is a chance for you to learn, teach, and grow with others.


Loss of computer connection or network services are not an excuse for not getting work submitted on time (if you lose your connection, go to another location to do your work—a public library, the University’s Academic Computer Center, a friend’s computer, etc.)  You can get help with technical problems from the MSUM computer help desk at or go the 3rd floor of the Library. 


There are 125 points for the course, divided as follows:

            1) Weekly essays (12@3 pts.)                            36

            2) Weekly discussions (12 @ 3 pts.)                   36

            3) Exercises/Case Studies (7@5 pts.)                 35

            3) Final paper—report on service learning           18

The final grade may be based on a curve, but students can expect at least an A if they achieve 90%, a B with 80%, etc.

Other Matters:

All assignments are due on the assigned date.  Partial credit may be given for assignments that are less than one week late, unless other arrangements have been made in advance.

Written reports are expected to be free of grammatical, spelling, and content errors.  They should be submitted in typewritten, standard formats (APA, MLA, URSI Style Sheets).  You must familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.  I encourage you to draw on the ideas of others—but you must also identify when you do so (you gain “brownie points” for citing the work of others!).  Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic behavior and will result in an F for the course.

I will help you in whatever manner humanly possible.  However, once the semester is over, there is not a great deal I can do.  If there is something that you don’t understand, are having problems with, or need help on, please get in touch with me as early as possible.

Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities.  If you area student with a documented disability, please contact us as early in the semester as possible to discuss the necessary accommodations, and/or contact the Disability Services Office at 507-389-2825 (V) or 1-800-627-3529 (MRS/TTY).


Finally, before the first class please post a message to the “Introductions” discussion board on D2L.  Please introduce yourself in the posting, let us know what your goals are in this course, and any special experiences/skills/interests you will be bringing to the group.



There are a number of interesting and useful books and articles that might help you dig deeper into the issues raised in this course.  The link above takes you to a list of some of my favorites.





© 2003 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 15 May 2006