Nonprofits and Civic Engagement: Promoting Democracy, Building Civil Society

This course lays the foundation for an integrated approach to nonprofit management in the context of today’s complex and rapidly changing environment. Capacity building for nonprofits has traditionally focused on the internal management of organizations, but effective leaders and managers today need a broader framework.

This course examines how the pursuit of high social impact expands the scope of nonprofit management practice beyond the boundaries of an organization. Explore how success has more to do with how nonprofits work outside the boundaries of their organizations than how they manage their own internal operations (*Crutchfield and McLeod Grant, Forces for Good (2008).) Learn what civic engagement for nonprofits means in practical terms – through case studies, discussion with peers and the instructor.

Topics Covered

  • Recognize the Role of Nonprofits in a Democracy
  • From Social Capital to Social Change
  • Developing Awareness of Root Causes
  • Developing Strategies: Constituent Involvement and Alliance Building

Course Benefits

What you and your organization will gain from this course:

  • Recognize the role of nonprofits in a democracy as vehicles for advocacy and civic participation
  • Differentiate types of social change organizations and explain the process of integrating social change values and activities into an organization’s work
  • Articulate the central importance of constituent involvement in an organization’s strategy for social change and explain how constituents gain a sense of involvement in an organization
  • Identify structures of power in a community and explain the root causes of certain problems facing a community in terms of systems and structures
  • Describe how nonprofits can engage in advocacy, voter mobilization and organizing to effect social change

Special Features

  • A weekly Resource Center, which provides carefully tailored readings and other resources
  • “Studio” activities offer opportunities for new and experienced practitioners to cultivate practical skills
  • Original case studies and problem-based learning activities
  • In-depth weekly discussions on the real-life challenges and opportunities of cultivating civic engagement
  • A small class size generally limited to 25 participants

Who Should Enroll

Course topics and learning activities are specifically targeted nonprofit professionals who are interested in learning how nonprofits and the societal interact.


This is an instructor-facilitated course delivered entirely online. . It is highly interactive and requires active participation on discussion boards and completion of assigned projects. There are no real-time class meetings. Students work at times that are convenient for them within the weekly schedule of activities. We estimate spending an average of 8 – 10 hours per week on each Certificate in Nonprofit Management course. The time commitment will vary depending the individual’s input, needs, and personal study habits. For this reason, we highly recommend students participate in no more than two CNM courses at a time.

Note: This is a tech-enhanced course that requires access to Blackboard, a course management system used by UIC. In order to complete registration, you must submit proof of identity to secure your unique NetID (username).

Cancellation/Refund Policy