Salem College launching nonprofit major

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Building on its 27-year-old major in arts management and its 10-year-old minor in not-for-profit management, Salem College in Winston-Salem next spring will launch what it believes will be North Carolina’s first undergraduate major in not-for-profit management.

The new major aims to prepare students for nonprofit careers and help them understand the social issues nonprofits must address, says Doug Borwick, who will coordinate the new program.

In addition to classes in accounting and social sciences, the new major will include courses on management and governance, fundraising and organizational planning.

Each course also will include practical work in the nonprofit field, and the major likely will attract non-traditional students in addition to Salem undergraduates, says Borwick, a professor of arts management and music who will continue to coordinate Salem’s arts-management program.

The new program is expected initially to attract 15 students, he says.

Salem for the past 10 years has required that arts-management students take courses it has offered in not-for-profit management, Borwick says, including courses in the nonprofit corporation, fundraising, and strategic and market planning.

Ten to 15 students typically have enrolled in the introductory course for the arts-management major, which overall has produced 150 to 200 graduates, he says.

But over the last three years, he says, enrollment in the introductory not-for-profit course has grown to 20 to 25 students, keeping it full, particularly when offered in the evening and available to adult students through the school’s continuing education program.

The growing interest among undergraduates may reflect in part the school’s requirement that every sophomore perform 30 hours of community service in the fall or spring semester, and meet regularly with a staff or faculty member to reflect on the experience, Borwick says.

He says the interest among adult students may reflect surveys several years ago conducted by a partnership of Triad-area foundations and the Raleigh-based N.C. Center for Nonprofits that found a need for quality training for nonprofit professionals.

Salem’s plans to launch the major coincide with growing scrutiny of nonprofits in the wake of nonprofit scandals involving such issues as self-dealing and excessive pay.

The Senate Finance Committee, for example, is looking at an overhaul and tightening of nonprofit regulation, while funders are demanding more information from nonprofits about their operations, impact and effectiveness.

“There is an increased wariness on the part of funders of all kinds that are inevitably going to demand more transparency and more accountability, regardless of what the Finance Committee does,” Borwick says.

Borwick, who also works as a consultant to nonprofits, says board members generally are passionate about their organizations but have a “relative lack of understanding of principles of not-for-profit governance.”

Through its classes and field work, he says, he hopes the new major will help raise awareness of those issues among students and local nonprofits.

While it has no functional distinction from the word “nonprofit,” the “not-for-profit” label for the new major is intended to force students to think about the reason the nonprofit sector exists and its distinction from the for-profit world, Borwick says.

“For-profits exist for profit,” he says. “Each not-for-profit corporation exists to implement its own particular mission of service to the community.”

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