By Todd Cohen
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After spending most of his nonprofit career as a fundraiser, Marty Sanders found he wanted help in “improving my skills in being able to manage and lead better.”
And Sarah Shiflett, who has worked for nonprofits and served on nonprofit boards, wanted to “round out some of my knowledge base.”
So Sanders, director of development at Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, and Shiflett, senior community planner at the Council for Children’s Rights, both enrolled in “Essentials of Business for Nonprofit Organizations,” a nine-course program offered by Wake Forest University at its Charlotte Center.
After moving its Charlotte programs uptown last year after offering them for 18 years in South Park, Wake Forest began offering its nonprofit program, which is taught by faculty from the university’s business and law schools, as well as by adjunct faculty.
The program also includes a symposium, which last year featured keynote speaker Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.
The first class, which is just ending, included 110 students from 85 nonprofits in the region, says Todd Johnson, executive director of the Wake Forest Charlotte Center, a graduate of the business school at Wake Forest, and founder and CEO of Keranetics, a biotech firm in Winston-Salem that is developing technology launched at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
The nine-course program cost $750 for the first year, and will cost $1,000 for the second year, with Duke Energy Foundation and Foundation for the Carolinas contributing a total of $20,000 each year.
Scholarships are available to cover up to half the cost of the program for students who otherwise could not afford to enroll.
Registration has begun for the term that begins August 27.
Joanne O’Brien Beam, who chairs the advisory board for the nonprofit program and is managing partner at Charlotte consulting firm Capstone Advancement Partners, says the curriculum is designed “to fill a gap to provide some continuing education” for local nonprofits.
Course topics range from governance and finance to fundraising and human resources.
“The world is constantly changing,” says Sanders at Salvation Army. “To be able to converse intelligently with the finance side, be more in tune with what’s going on in communications and marketing, and understand human resources, and how you put together a good team and manage effectively, were all areas I needed to be able to grow in.”
Shiflett at the Council for Children’s Rights, says she particularly valued the sessions on strategic planning, business model development, and fund development.
“It’s easy to continue doing the same activities because they’re comfortable,” she says. “Sometimes you need to be able to change your model to do a better job.”
She learned, for example, the “need for organizations to ‘pivot’ so they can continue to add value,” she says.
The Council for Children’s Rights aims “to be a catalyst for community change benefiting children, but in the session I realized that our team here needs to have the same lens,” she says. “We need to be able to respond to the needs of the community. And if that means changing our role or our approach, we need to be able to do that as we challenge others to do the same. It’s really about delivering value.”