COMM 196P: A new course prepares students to go to work for a cause.
The nonprofit workforce is the third largest in the nation behind retail trade and manufacturing. Employing about one in 10 Americans, it is one of the few industries that grew during the recent recession while the private sector lost jobs. For individuals interested in a career supporting a philanthropic cause they care about, this is very good—if surprising—news.
“Philanthropy is a much broader topic area than fundraising and volunteerism. We need to have students who are ready to shape the world.”
“Making a vocation out of a passion for philanthropy is not seen as a clear-cut career path,” says Lecturer Beth Von Till. But like every other organization, nonprofits have specific professional needs that support their philanthropic mission. A pilot course taught by Von Till this semester, “Communication and Philanthropy,” seeks to expand students’ understanding of philanthropy and prepare them for meaningful and perhaps unexpected careers in nonprofits supporting everything from education to the environment.
Nonprofits need a workforce that understands the complexity of philanthropy, including cultural perspectives on responsibility and the emotional considerations of implementing a fundraising campaign. That translates into job opportunities in communications fields like grant writing, campaign strategy development, marketing and donor stewardship. Von Till hopes that the class will give students an enlightened personal philosophy about philanthropy and an expanded vision of how philanthropy energizes an economy through social change, opportunities for entrepreneurship, community empowerment and job growth.
“When some people hear ‘philanthropy,’ they think about animal rescue; others want to know why their children’s school fundraisers can’t do better than selling candy bars door to door,” says Von Till. “But philanthropy is a much broader topic area than fundraising and volunteerism. We need to have students who are ready to shape the world.”