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Start Your Own NGO With These Free Courses

Starting an NGO is not an easy task and requires a variety of skills like project management, leadership, and excellent communication. Thankfully, building those skills can be done for free using courses found on Coursera. Here are some examples of what classes can be very helpful:

“Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector, Nonprofit Organizations, Nonprofit Leadership, and Governance” – The State University of New York 

For those new to the nonprofit field, this is an excellent course to start with. It introduces a wide range of concepts like issues facing nonprofits, how leadership differs from management, the roles of board members, and more. Assignments include Readiness Assurance Tests (RATs) that test your reading and knowledge comprehension, and ability to apply what you’ve learned. The course is taught by Prof. Yvonne D. Harrison and Prof. Vic Murray. Expect 13 hours of total commitment, or about 3 hours a week. If you wish to earn an certificate for completing the course, there’s a fee, with financial aid available for those approved by Coursera. Auditing the course is free. This course represents the first in the “Improving Leadership & Governance in Nonprofit Organizations” specialization.

“Fundraising and Development Foundations” – The University of California

Nonprofits are supported largely by outside funding. This course introduces students to basic concepts and terms in fundraising, including how to find donors, develop clear goals, and what goes into running a successful campaign. Assignments include composing a proposal letter to get funds for your org’s charity event. The course is taught by Angela Joens and consists of 4 weeks of study, with 2-5 hours/week of commitment. Formally enrolling in the class gives you access to all the materials, as well as a certificate upon completion. Financial aid is available for those approved by Coursera. If you do not wish to pay, you can audit the course for free.

“Speaking to persuade: Motivating audiences with solid arguments and moving language” – The University of Washington

A big part of fundraising is using the right language to reach out to potential donors. In this course, you’ll learn how to effectively persuade others and what strategies go into building convincing and compelling arguments. By developing and delivering your own persuasive speech, you get practical experience. The course consists of 7 weeks of study with a commitment of 2 hours per week. Dr. Matt McGarrity teaches. If you wish to earn a certificate for this course, there’s a fee. If you are unable to pay for the fee, financial aid is available if you are approved. Auditing is free, though it may limit your access to certain parts of the course.

“Project Management: The Basics for Success” – The University of California, Irvine

NGOs are often project-based and need strong leaders in this area. In this course, students learn about a leader’s responsibilities and how to effectively manage projects, from developing the different stages, to communicating with others, to monitoring a project’s progress. Students will also learn how to deal with difficult people and facilitate good teamwork. This course is the first in the Career Success Specialization. Rob Stone, an instructor from UCI, is the teacher. Expect a commitment of 8 hours total for this course. Financial aid is available for those wanting a certificate and who are approved, while auditing is free. Certain resources (like graded assignments) may not be available if you are only auditing.

“Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills” – University of Michigan

NGOs and nonprofits are like any organization in that negotiation is a common occurrence. This course lays out the framework for successful negotiation, including planning, the power of psychology, and how to develop contracts. Students will be asked to practice their skills with a partner as well as complete a final exam. The course takes 7 weeks with about 75 minutes of commitment per week. George Siedel is the teacher. If you are unable to pay for the certificate, financial aid is available based on Coursera’s approval. If you wish to simply audit the course, it’s free, though you may be unable to access parts of the course.