Professional development is critical – especially as the nonprofit sector becomes increasingly professionalized and as more empirical research focuses on effective practices of nonprofit organizations.

There are many options for nonoprofit professionals, ranging from workshops to graduate degrees.  A leading nonprofit scholar and practitioner, Lilya Wagner, provides information specifically for fundraisers.  It is available in her chapter, Resources for Strengthening Fund Raising Skills, in the book, Hank Rosso’s Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising.

For my professional development, I chose to seek graduate education.  I just finished my third semester of four semesters – in earning my Master of Public Affairs, with a concentration in Nonprofit Management.  You can check out what courses I have completed at SPEAIUPUI on my Graduate Education page.  (Click on the course name for a sample of my work!)

Some of the key benefits of this experience include:

  1. Readings that build my knowledge
  2. Assignments that develop my skills
  3. Colleagues that expand my network

Based on my experience, I recommend asking some important questions before enrolling in a nonprofit degree program:

  • Who are the students?  Ask questions about age, race, gender, education, work experience, etc.
  • Who are the professors?  Are they practitioners, scholars, or both?
  • What is the course work?  Is recent research used?  Are assignments designed to build a portfolio?

What other information is important to ask of an institution of higher education – that often isn’t found on websites or in brochures?  Please leave a comment with your suggestion.

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