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nonprofit academy encourages nonprofit directors to learn from each other and experienced directors

The Community Foundation launched the Nonprofit Academy to provide training for Executive Directors

Seventeen Executive Directors participated in the inaugural Nonprofit Academy. The Directors represent varied causes including youth, arts and culture, and the environment. While they have diverse missions, all participants have less than three years of experience in their role as Executive Director.

Nonprofit executives show off their certificates from the Nonprofit AcademyThrough our strategic plan, we learned that people thought, and even expected, the Community Foundation should take an active role in nonprofit education. With this information in mind, we explored how other Community Foundations provide nonprofit education and arrived at the concept of the Nonprofit Academy.

The Community Foundation decided to open the training to Executive Directors in the Nonprofit Academy as Executive Directors significantly influence their nonprofit. This year’s participants shared similar sentiments at the start of the program:

 “Being an ED is really running a small business. I have skills in fundraising, marketing, supervision…Working with a board, ensuring compliance/law, HR, budgets/finances  are all new fields to me. EDs are expected to wear so many hats… I need help with those various hats. I also hope to expand my network of friends/colleagues I can call upon when I need help.”

Nonprofit Academy Topics

  • Strategic planning
  • The Executive Director’s role in fundraising with a development team
  • Fundraising without a development team
  • Board development and engagement
  • Human resources and personnel issues
  • Budgeting and financial reporting
  • Marketing and communications
  • Planned Giving

At the start of each meeting, participants shared recent achievements and sought wisdom from their peers. The group jokingly referred to this time as “Nonprofit Therapy.” After that, there were presentations by seasoned Executive Directors and other experts, followed by questions, group discussion, and a debrief.

The Nonprofit Academy was designed for Executive Directors because they can most significantly influence their nonprofit. Enhancing the knowledge and skills of Executive Directors helps the Community Foundation achieve its mission of strengthening our community.

2019 Nonprofit Academy Participating Organizations

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern NV
Communities in Schools
Cultural Alliance Nevada
Dress for Success
Girls on the Run – Sierras
Nevada Educational Advocacy Center for Children & Youth
Nevada Historical Society
Nevada Outdoor School
Pioneer Center
Reno Little Theater
ROC Foundation
Sierra Arts Foundation
Step 2
Tahoe Rim Trail Association
Urban Roots


  • Participants rated the Nonprofit Academy 4.7 out of 5 on average
  • 100% of participants offered to serve as a reference for other Executive Directors considering the Nonprofit Academy
  • 89% would recommend the Nonprofit Academy to other Executive Directors
  • Knowledge of strategic planning increased by 54.34% on average
  • Knowledge of fundraising increased by 21.31% on average
  • Knowledge of board development and engagement increased by 67.85% on average
  • Knowledge of HR and personnel issues increased by 16.67% on average
  • Knowledge of budgeting and financial reporting increased by 22.8% on average
  • Knowledge of marketing and communications increased by 30.91% on average

Participants’ Survey Comments

 “We will be embarking on a strategic planning process in 2020 that will have HUGE impact on the organization’s future. I will also be using the concept that our goals should drive the creation of our annual budget starting with the 20-21 fiscal year.”

“My skill set has been strengthened, I have a larger toolbox to pull from and an expanded network to reach out to for support.”

“[The Nonprofit Academy] helped bring my focus to different areas that may have shifted to a lower priority. Having to write down information about our organization prior to the meetings helped me find holes I didn’t realize we had.”

“Topics that came up in NP Academy became topics in board meetings. I talked with my staff about what we were doing in the NP Academy and that led to good conversations that would not have happened otherwise.”

“[The Nonprofit Academy] has helped me become more strategic in educating the board, board direction and marketing our mission and purpose.”