Nonprofit Finance Certificate Online

May 05, 2020

Overview of Online Nonprofit Finance Certificate Programs

Leaders and managers in various nonprofit organizations may be interested in earning an online certificate in nonprofit finance to help learn the necessary skills for successful financial management of nonprofits. These certificate programs are designed to equip working professionals with managerial finance and analytical skills to help their organization reach financial sustainability. Depending on the program, students may be able to earn continuing education units (CEUs) or course credit for the certificate program's coursework.

Some nonprofit finance certificate programs are offered in a blended format with both online and on-campus coursework, but there are also fully online certificate program available. Some of these certificate programs can be completed in as little as two months, while others may take up to one year to complete. Usually, these certificate programs do not require any prerequisites for admissions, though a bachelor's degree could be recommended.

Requirements for Nonprofit Finance Certificates

Students in online nonprofit finance certificate programs learn about various financial management methods in the context of a nonprofit, such as financial analysis, policy, reporting, and leadership. In addition to coursework, some programs require hands-on learning experiences.

Information and Requirements

Online nonprofit finance certificate programs typically require 4-6 core courses or sessions in the subject. These may equate to 10 or more course credits. Depending on the program, some courses or sessions may be conducted in one full day (from 9 am to 5 pm), while others last two weeks or up to a full semester.

Some of these programs follow a cohort model and require students to attend some courses on campus for face-to-face interactions with faculty and peers. Students might also be required to complete an in-person practicum experience as well as an assessment project.

Common Courses


Courses in fundraising explore the various approaches nonprofits can take to generate revenue. Students in these courses may explore the fundraising process, best practices, and the historical, legal, and ethical perspectives of fundraising.

Financial Management

Depending on the program, students may take a specific course in financial management or multiple courses that break concepts of financial management apart. For example, students may take a course in financing, cash flow, budgeting, and/or cost allocation. In general, courses that discuss financial management aim to equip students with the technical skills needed for financial planning and management to keep a nonprofit organization running smoothly.

Assessment/Decision Making

Courses in assessment and financial decision making help train students to examine financial statements and other accounting resources to make the best business decisions for a nonprofit. Students may examine cash flow analysis, audits, grants, income statements, cash reserves, and more.

Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Nonprofit Finance

While an online certificate in nonprofit finance does not typically qualify students for a particular position, a wide range of positions within nonprofits may benefit from the financial knowledge these programs provide. These certificate programs may be especially helpful for financial managers or social and community service managers working in nonprofits. While nonprofit financial managers may handle most of the financial activities of an organization, social and community service managers working in nonprofits may also need some financial knowledge to make decisions concerning the programs and services they provide to the public.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both financial managers and social and community service managers typically need at least a bachelor's degree and some work experience. As of 2019, the BLS reported that financial managers had a median salary of $129,890, while social and community service managers had a median salary of $67,150. Both careers had faster than average job growth projected from 2018 to 2028, with financial managers having a job growth of 16% and social and service community managers having a job growth of 13%.

Nonprofit finance certificate programs are offered as both completely online and blended programs for working professionals in nonprofit organizations. These programs can be completed in one year or less and may include hands-on requirements.

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