Beyond Books with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance
By Lauren Jeong
For those of us who work in nonprofits or philanthropy, we know it takes more than studying fundraising models or learning how to read a 990 to be effective. Working in this sector takes experience with our audience, clear communication, innovative problem solving and overcoming the fear of making your very first fundraising ask.
To prepare the rising generation of people pursuing nonprofit careers, the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) offers the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential, aimed at equipping students with practical experiences, skills and networks to be compelling changemakers in the social sector. The CNP is offered through a network of 40 universities across the country to undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students.
To obtain the certification, students must successfully complete a rigorous nonprofit internship, demonstrate proficiency in 10 core competencies and attend NLA’s annual Alliance Management Institute. CNP students are required to seek experiences and training in fundraising, budgeting, marketing, governance, volunteer management, public speaking, event planning and community outreach. Rather than developing expertise in just one area, CNP students gain a holistic picture of nonprofit operations. Nonprofit managers who hire CNPs report that the intense internships and service learning required to obtain the credential significantly reduces the learning curve of their new CNP employees, making them more prepared for the job.
Georgia State University is the second-largest CNP certifying campus in the nation. Georgia State’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance chapter is comprised of students from all fields of study, including nonprofit management, business administration, economics, social work, public health and nursing. While the CNP program only requires completion of one internship, many students in Georgia State’s chapter go on to complete multiple nonprofit internships in Atlanta.
In 2014 and 2015, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta provided grants to Georgia State’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Program for students to attend the annual Alliance Management Institute. For many, the Alliance Management Institute is their first professional conference outside of Atlanta. The conference exposes students to new ideas by taking them out of the local community to learn how others across the country are implementing best practices and solving social problems. You can learn more about Georgia State’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance chapter here.