Philanthropy University Online

Essentials of Nonprofit Strategy

Paul Brest, Stanford Law School, Former President of Hewlett Foundation
A free course from Philanthropy University
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The Course

A nonprofit's strategy determines whether the organization will sink or swim. Nonetheless, nonprofit leaders are often unable or unwilling to plan in the short-term to achieve long-lasting social change.

This course will help you develop successful strategies to achieve your organization's goals and make strides towards meaningful impact. Using the social problems of homelessness and childhood obesity as real world examples, you will learn how to undertake the basic elements of strategy: defining the problem, identifying stakeholders, designing a theory of change and logic model, and establishing assessment criteria. With this foundation, you will be able to develop strategies that will ensure long-term impact for your own organizations—rather than just the illusion of results.

What You'll Do:

  • Identify the milestones in designing a strategy for an effective nonprofit organization.
  • Workshop a real world problem and apply your new knowledge of strategy to another social issue or to your own organization.

Weekly Topics:

  • Week 0: On-boarding and Team Formation
  • Week 1: Defining the Problem & Identifying Stakeholders
  • Week 2: Developing a Theory of Change
  • Week 3: Developing Logic Models
  • Week 4: Identifying Weaknesses & Problems
  • Week 5: Defining Progress & Outcome Metrics
  • Week 6: Evaluating a Program's Impact
  • Week 7: Replicating and Scaling a Successful Program


Approximately 2-3 hours per week watching videos, reading articles, participating in class discussion, and completing individual and/or team assignments. You will need a computer that allows you to watch the video lectures and provides the ability to upload all your assignments.

Statement of Accomplishment:

*To receive a Statement of Accomplishment, you will need to complete 4 out of the 6 weekly assignments.

More Information:

Philanthropy University is a non-degree, diploma or credit granting initiative powered by Berkeley-Haas. Philanthropy U is the concept developer and sponsor of the initiative. Learners are not entitled to earn college or other academic credit.