Want To Pursue Non-Profit Work? Read This.
You’ve decided to buck the crowd and pursue an MBA in the non-profit sector. However, you aren’t sure which program will prepare you to make the biggest impact.
Ilana Kowarski, a reporter for US News, recently discussed how applicants hoping to advance in non-profit should look for the right MBA program.
How An MBA Can Be Useful for Non-Profit
Experts say an MBA can provide invaluable skills that are directly applicable to non-profit managerial work.
For instance, according to Kaplan Test Prep, roughly 12% of Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization, have MBAs.
The need for MBAs in the non-profit world has been steadily increasing over time.
“After the recession, nonprofits and social enterprises are struggling with funding,” according to Kaplan. “They find themselves having to refocus their efforts on efficiency, resource allocation, and budget management. With nonprofits, the end consumer isn’t the one bringing in the money, so the challenges in bringing in and using limited funds are real and ongoing. Solving these problems can really test your mettle, but also prove extremely rewarding.”
What To Look For In An MBA Program
There are numerous MBA programs out there. But, some can help you prepare for the non-profit world better than others.
Experts say applicants interested in a non-profit career should seek schools that offer an abundance of nonprofit-oriented experiential learning opportunities.
“Any practicum, any fieldwork, any internship, any service learning experience or community consulting type experience – all of those would be super helpful,” Jonathan Westover, an associate professor of organizational leadership at Utah Valley University’s Woodbury School of Business and the director of academic service learning in the university’s Office of Engaged Learning, tells US News.
Additionally, it can be helpful to look for schools that offer courses on specific social dilemmas.
“So, for example, a student who is interested in solving environmental challenges (either in a social enterprise or a nonprofit) should look for access to classes with a practical specific orientation to solving environmental challenges,” Judith Chevalier, a professor at the Yale School of Management, tells US News. “A student interested in theater management should be looking for access to classes in theater.”
Outside of courses on social dilemmas, it can also be helpful to look for courses that give you the skills and knowledge to actually run and manage a non-profit.
“Generally, a student would seek out an MBA in nonprofit management which offers courses such as the ethical and legal guidelines for these organizations, as well as various strategies for nonprofit success,” Rickard Briggs, the interim director of the MBA program at West Liberty University’s Gary E. West College of Business in West Virginia, tells US News. “The core courses may build skills and knowledge in finance, HR, logistics and other essential business subjects.”
Not all schools will have dedicated courses that relate to specific non-profit sectors. If that’s the case, experts say it can be helpful to seek out b-schools that let you explore outside your MBA program.
“I would encourage students to check and see if there are other related elective classes offered on campus that may not reside within the MBA curriculum, such as public sector management,” Alexander McKelvie, associate dean for undergraduate and master’s education at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, tells US News. “These might be housed in another college on campus, and students will want to know if their MBA curriculum has the flexibility to include those important courses that will help prepare them for nonprofit work.”