Online MBA Programs in Nonprofit Management

Nonprofit organizations exist to serve the public by addressing local, regional, or global social issues that for-profits generally do not. Over 1.5 million nonprofits contribute almost a trillion dollars to the US economy, and US News and World Reports states that 50% of such organizations in the US and Canada plan to increase staffing. This sector encompasses multifarious organizations and causes, including hospitals, schools, faith-based institutions, and social welfare organizations. One common factor among them is the crucial need for well-developed, progressive leadership. An MBA in nonprofit management can help you acquire business skills and insight to lead or launch a humanitarian-focused outfit.

Earning an online MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management can be a momentous step toward top positions in administration, sales, risk control, and other senior management jobs in this field. Choosing a degree program is no small task considering its potential impact on your career trajectory. This page provides some guidance and factors to ponder about this specialized degree. You’ll discover the benefits of obtaining an MBA in nonprofit management, typical coursework, potential career paths, and how it stands out among similar degrees.

What Is an Online MBA in Nonprofit Management?

An MBA in nonprofit management blends the pedagogy of core business principles with an intense focus on management issues peculiar to nonprofits. These topics include fundraising, nonprofit governance, program evaluation, and strategic philanthropy. The advanced degree can also introduce students to techniques for crisis management and innovation.

An online MBA provides the same rigor as a traditional degree program with much greater flexibility. Instead of adjusting your life to fit around your studies, you can fit your studies into your schedule. You can continue working and handling personal responsibilities as you pursue your MBA in nonprofit management online. This educational option is usually less costly, without the expenses of commuting or textbooks in most cases. Upon completion, you may be able to progress into upper management at a philanthropic organization working as an advocacy director, event team manager, community organizer, grant administrator, or another high-level professional.

Determine your long-term career goals and research the potential pros and cons of pursuing an online MBA, considering what you ultimately desire to achieve. It’s an increasingly popular choice for people interested in senior-level management opportunities that make a social impact.

Online MBA in Nonprofit Management Curriculum

Online MBA curricula vary among schools, but accredited MBA programs in nonprofit management online typically cover similar topics. Students focus on cultivating acumen and experience in managing initiatives of mission-driven establishments, assessing primary organizational issues, building relationships with widely varying groups of stakeholders and constituents, and expanding the reach and impact of nonprofits. MBA in nonprofit management programs typically include these courses, which emphasize nonprofit issues:

  • Nonprofit Organization, Governance, and Management
  • Seminar in Program Evaluation
  • Strategic Fundraising and Philanthropy

You will find these curriculum offerings related to core business management topics:

  • Graduate Management Foundations
  • Leadership and Organizational Behavior
  • Technology and Leadership
  • Financial Management
  • Financial Markets
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Strategic Marketing
  • Macroeconomics
  • Managerial Economics

Looking deeper into the typical course offerings can give you an idea of the kind of leadership a nonprofit management MBA is designed to nurture:

  • Nonprofit Governance: This course reviews the structure, management, and governance of nonprofits relating to history, mission, and progression of these organizations. Topics discussed include governing board duties, nonprofit legal framework, ethics, risks, and stakeholder relationships.
  • Philanthropy: This course looks at philanthropy and fundraising, emphasizing the psychology behind fundraising and donor motivation. Topics include fundraising strategies and research, funding sources, and donor cultivation, retention, and recognition.
  • Program Evaluation: This class covers evaluations such as needs assessment, cost analysis, impact determination, process and formative evaluation, and monitoring of inputs and outcomes.
  • Human Resource Management: This course covers labor relations and provides practical knowledge to manage workers in any sector.
  • Financial Management: This course reviews financial concepts relating to nonprofits. Students study fund allocation, risk assessment, and payroll. The class may also cover fundraising and grant writing.
  • Nonprofit Ethics: Students learn why and how codes of ethics are developed. Case studies emphasize transparency and accountability in nonprofit management.

An MBA in nonprofit management has some similarities with a master’s in nonprofit management, but the differences are considerable. A master’s program typically focuses on nonprofits with significantly less emphasis on business concepts. This may be suitable for students who want to move up into leadership within the not-for-profit sector, while an MBA degree can prepare a student for greater career flexibility. Master’s of nonprofit management programs normally cover subjects much like those in MBA programs:

  • Introduction to Nonprofit Management
  • Public Policy and Nonprofit Organizations
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Nonprofits
  • Human Resource Management for Nonprofits
  • Grant Writing and Project Management
  • Fundraising for Nonprofits

What Unique Career Paths Can I Pursue with an Online MBA Specializing in Nonprofit Management?

Graduates of MBA programs with a nonprofit management specialization can find professional employment opportunities across a wide range of industries in the public and private sectors. Every organization needs leaders with highly developed skills and knowledge to provide oversight and foresight. Earning this degree helps position you for prestigious roles that make a difference. Although evidence of any gap between for-profit and nonprofit wages and salaries is mixed, people who work for not-for-profit organizations might accept lower pay for the intangible rewards of supporting a cause1.

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers supervise and coordinate social service initiatives and local community organizations and staff. They establish and oversee budgets, hire and develop employees, and ensure conformity to policies, guidelines, and laws. These professionals typically work for nonprofits, private for-profit social service firms, and governmental agencies. They are also referred to as advocacy directors.

Tasks include:

  • Screening candidates for social services to assess needs and abilities
  • Building relationships with other service providers and agencies
  • Following up with constituents to ensure compliance and determine needs
  • Facilitating clients’ access to services

According to Payscale.com, the average social and community service manager earns $52,229 annually2. States with the highest employment level are New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, and Ohio. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for this job will grow at 18%3, driven by an aging population and increasing need for mental health and substance abuse treatments.

Public Relations Manager

Public relations managers devise and oversee the creation of materials that uphold or improve the public reputation of their client. They may travel to make presentations to stakeholders and current and prospective donors. These professionals train staff and work with other departments to ensure accurate content while measuring the success of campaigns and programs.

Tasks include:

  • Creating and publishing materials for the press
  • Coordinating initiatives with marketing, production, and the community
  • Planning events, parties, conferences, and educational seminars
  • Managing social media for the organization

Payscale.com states that the average public relations manager salary is $65,3054, but the BLS reports a much higher figure of $114,800 annually. California, New York, Washington DC, Illinois, and Massachusetts employ the largest numbers of these workers. The BLS predicts that demand for this job will grow at 10%5.

Director of Development (Fundraising)

Fundraising directors develop and spearhead campaigns to garner donations for their establishment. They may pursue funds from grants, corporate sponsors, and research foundations, mainly working in the background to establish a structure for sustained fundraising. These workers may oversee the organization’s finances and business plans in conjunction with the board of directors. Other titles include:

  • Corporate Giving Director (Manager)
  • Development Manager
  • Donor Relations Manager

Tasks include:

  • Creating and executing strategy to raise funds in a cost- and time-efficient manner
  • Directing or delegating fundraising efforts
  • Possible responsibility for other areas of business development

The average salary for directors of development is $72,629, according to Payscale.com6. The top states that hire these professionals are California, New York, Washington DC, Illinois, and Massachusetts. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for this job will grow at 10%7.

Compliance Officer

Compliance officers evaluate the organization’s conformity to regulations and laws governing licenses, permits, and organizational ethical standards. Some positions require certification. The federal government is the largest employer of this profession, followed by state and local government entities.

Tasks include:

  • Evaluating operational and compliance risks and creating policies for risk management
  • Conducting internal reviews for compliance
  • Conducting or leading internal investigations of compliance issues
  • Overseeing activities for compliance with organizational, local, state, and federal guidelines

Payscale.com reports that compliance officers earn an average annual salary of $67,6078. States with the highest employment level are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania. The BLS doesn’t provide job outlook data on compliance officers, but demand for chief compliance officers could be expected to increase along with the growing need for executives across all industries.

Grants Administrator

Grants administrators oversee the appropriation and allocation of funds for their organization. They work with clients in budget reviews, background checks, information collection, and grant finalization. These professionals may interact with grant recipients to ensure compliance with grant guidelines. They may also be called foundation program officers.

Tasks include:

  • Analyzing, accepting, and processing grant applications
  • Creating, executing, and evaluating funding practices according to the organization’s business plans
  • Identifying potential legitimate funding sources
  • Conveying regulations for grant approval and related responsibilities
  • Ensuring that grant applications have proper documentation and comply with eligibility criteria
  • Maintaining and verifying payment transactions

According to Payscale.com, the average grants administrator salary is $57,071 annually9. New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Michigan are the top states for this position. The BLS doesn’t provide job outlook data for this career, but you can expect to see demand increase as the nonprofit sector continues to expand.

Nonprofit Executive Director

Executive directors are the CEOs of nonprofits. They guide the mission and direction of the organization. These professionals manage policy, financial oversight, staff training, marketing, and community outreach. They are directly accountable to the board of directors for the overall functioning of the organization. Local and state governments and schools are among the top employers. They may also be called foundation directors.

Tasks include:

  • Overseeing fundraising and grant funding for the organization
  • Serving as liaison between staff and board of directors
  • Managing staff

According to Payscale.com, the average salary for a nonprofit executive director is $65,55610. California, Florida, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts are the top states that hire these workers. The BLS projects that demand for top executives across all industries will grow at 8 percent11.

Logistics Manager

Logistics managers coordinate and analyze an organization’s supply chain, including human resources, materials, tools, transportation, and financial assets. In nonprofits, these workers strive to minimize overhead expenses and promote efficiency throughout the supply chain. The federal government employs the largest number of these professionals.

Tasks include:

  • Planning and directing storage and distribution of supplies within an organization
  • Managing financial logistics-related transactions
  • Overseeing logistics staff

Payscale.com states that logistics managers earn an average of $64,942 annually12. States with the highest employment level of this profession are California, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, and Virginia. The BLS projects that demand will grow 7%.13

Management Analysts

Management analysts or consultants show executives and business leaders how to run their establishments more efficiently. Many of these professionals work exclusively with nonprofits such as government and military organizations and medical companies. They look for potential methods to enhance organizational performance and gauge future needs to ensure an adequate supply of resources.

Tasks include:

  • Leading organizational evaluations, developing procedures and systems, and conducting work simplification and assessment studies
  • Preparing guidelines and instructing workers in the use of new procedures or forms
  • Preparing operations and procedures manuals for equipping management to function more efficiently

Payscale.com reports that the average management analyst salary is $65,13914. California, Virginia, New York, Florida, and Illinois have the highest employment levels in this occupation. According to the BLS, the job outlook is bright, with an expected growth of 14%15.

Should I Get an Online MBA in Nonprofit Management?

Your desired career path is the primary factor to consider when looking into an online degree program. A few schools offer MBA programs that focus exclusively on sustainability or social responsibility, but many institutions offer an MBA curriculum with a concentration in nonprofit management. Common topic areas include global studies, organizational communication, and online communities. Other advanced degree programs also focus on nonprofit management as well, so it’s important to research which educational path is best for you.

Online MBA in Nonprofit Management vs. Master’s in Public Administration

MBA programs with a concentration on nonprofit management have many similarities with master’s programs in public administration, reflecting a trend of increasing interconnections among nonprofits, businesses and governments. An MPA may be ideal for someone who wants to pursue a career in public policy, politics, or other top public service positions. This degree can also lead to opportunities in education, city management, and urban planning. In most cases, students can gain acceptance into an MPA program without previous professional experience.

Online MBA in Nonprofit Management vs. Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management

A Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management may be a suitable option for students who have an undergraduate business degree and want to find management-level employment within a nonprofit establishment. This program can acquaint students with the distinctions between for-profit firms and not-for-profits. On the other hand, an MBA in nonprofit management is attractive for experienced nonprofit workers with no formal business education.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whatever advanced education you pursue, you’ll want to be fully informed so you choose a program that facilitates your upward mobility in the workforce. Some common concerns about MBA programs include:

Can an MBA in Nonprofit Management help me attain employment in a for-profit company?

According to education and business experts, barriers between nonprofits and for-profit companies are falling as more businesses pursue goals such as environmental sustainability and social impact in addition to profits. In fact, more corporations are hiring professionals for high-level positions that promote social responsibility.

Are all online MBA programs accredited?

A college or university obtains accreditation from entities such as the AACSB, ACBSP, IACBE, or a CHEA-recognized body upon approval of the school’s educational programs. Accreditation is an important factor for prospective students as it affects student eligibility for financial aid and course credit transferability. DiscoverBusiness.us only lists MBA programs that are fully accredited.

How long does it take to earn an online MBA in nonprofit management?

Many online nonprofit management MBA programs last about two years, and some may be completed within 12 to 18 months. The accelerated programs typically require full-time studies.

Should I obtain my MBA online or in a classroom?

Some students can focus more in a traditional classroom. For working professionals, though, this is not feasible. You can maintain your employment and other responsibilities while earning a degree online. Of course, an online MBA program in nonprofit management is no less rigorous than a traditional one, so you need just as much – if not more – dedication and time management skills to finish the journey.


References:
1 https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2016/article/nonprofit-pay-and-benefits.htm
2 https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Public_Relations_(PR)_Manager/Salary
3 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm
4 https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Public_Relations_(PR)_Manager/Salary
5 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm
6 https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Director_of_Development_(Fundraising)/Salary
7 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm
8 https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Compliance_Officer/Salary
9 https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Grants_Administrator/Salary
10 https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Executive_Director%2C_Non-Profit_Organization/Salary
11 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm
12 https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Logistics_Manager/Salary
13 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/logisticians.htm#tab-6
14 https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Management_Analyst/Salary
15 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm

Other Popular MBA Specializations
Online MBA Programs without a GMAT requirement
Online MBA Accounting
Online MBA Economics
Online MBA Entrepreneurship
Online MBA Finance
Online MBA Information Systems
Online MBA Supply Chain Management
Online MBA Business Analytics
Online MBA Business Intelligence
Online MBA Information Technology
Online MBA Advertising
Online MBA Change Management
Online MBA Communications
Online MBA Data Analytics
Online MBA Data Science
Online MBA Healthcare Administration
Online MBA Healthcare Management
Online MBA Human Resources
Online MBA Marketing
Online MBA Nonprofit Management
Online MBA Organizational Development
Online MBA Project Management
Online MBA Public Relations
Online MBA Statistics