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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector, Nonprofit Organizations, Nonprofit Leadership and Governance by University at Buffalo

189 ratings

About the Course

This course introduces you to the nonprofit sector, nonprofit organizations, and the concepts of leadership and governance. While this course has been developed with North American culture in mind, we do appreciate that in other parts of the world the nature of the nonprofit sector, nonprofit organizations, nonprofit leadership and governance may not be the same. Nevertheless, it is our hope that much of the course content will still be of value to those in other parts of the world. To learn more about this course, please watch the overview video by copying and pasting the following link into your web browser: Keywords: Nonprofit; Nonprofit Sector; Voluntary Sector; Nonprofit Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, Volunteer Organizations, Leadership, Management, Governance, Board, Board of Directors, Performance, Effectiveness Course 1 Overview: Week 1: Some of the questions you will explore this week are: What is the nonprofit sector and why does it exist? What are the unique characteristics of nonprofit organizations? What are the trends and emerging issues facing organizations in the nonprofit sector? Week 2: Questions to be explored this week are: What is leadership at the governance level and how is it different from management? What is good governance and why does it matter? What is a board of directors? Week 3: This week's questions: What roles do board members play in nonprofit organizations? Broadly speaking, what are boards responsible for and how do they go about their work? What are some of the issues that challenge the board's ability to go its work? Week 4: At this stage, you are asked to review the course content, submit a written assignment (known lightheartedly as a BEAR (Board Effectiveness Readiness Assessment), and take two multiple choice Readiness Assurance Tests (known similarly as RATs). One RAT will assess knowledge and reading comprehension and the other will test application of knowledge within a practical case. Week 5: We will encourage you to discuss the RATs in the discussion forums and take them again should you wish to change any of your answers based on the information exchanged....

Top reviews


Jun 19, 2019

Whether you are new to non-profit service, or have been volunteering and engaging for years, the course offers useful insights that can lend more substance and impact to your important work.


Apr 13, 2016

I highly recommend the entire program to new and even experienced board members in both the non-profit and corporate world. Very real application and concepts that are applicable.

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1 - 25 of 57 Reviews for Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector, Nonprofit Organizations, Nonprofit Leadership and Governance

By Amy C

Jan 16, 2016

This course has great potential as it is an extraordinarily timely topic, domestically and globally. The accessible required reading assignments were thought provoking and topical. Also, one of the required videos proved helpful, and a couple of the optional Ted talks were "must see's" for anyone involved in the non-profit sector.

It was problematic that there was so little direction with respect to how one might access the required reading materials that were not linked into the course syllabus. In fact, one of the links provided simply directed the learners to a youtube video, extolling the virtues of the book wherein the required chapter was located. Another blatant colleague marketing technique occurred during the course of one of the required videos wherein the organizer interviewed an author about his book. (There was some helpful substantive information that came out of that interview, but for the most part, I felt as though I was watching an infomercial.) Requests for help fell on deaf ears, except for those of co-learners.

A small, but annoying, flaw was that the professors were simply reading text from their slides, for the video component of the course--with an additional word thrown in, on occasion, for good measure. It would have been less distracting just to have the slides to read.

I wish this course had been designed and taught to the standards I have come to expect from Coursera courses. It could have been one of the most valuable yet.

By Michail D D

Jan 9, 2016

My overall experience with this Specialization, in general, and this 1st Course, in particular, is very positive.

On the positive side, I really like the fact that the Courses are practice-oriented and provide not only theoretical frameworks, but also insights from experts, practical guidance, and evidence-based best practices.

Also, the idea of applying Team-Based Learning (TBL), in the forms of Readiness Assurance Tests (RATs) and scenario-based RAT Application Exercises, for assessing participants' learning, is excellent!

However, there are a couple of downsides, that's why I'm not giving a 5 star positive feedback.

The first problem is that not all of the required readings are freely available via the Coursera platform, or elsewhere online. I appreciate the excellent quality of the chosen materials, but, if it becomes compulsory to spend more than US $100 for buying books, then the total cost of this Specialization elevates quite a lot, given that I had to pay €162 for it. On my opinion, there should be at least a note in the description of both the Specialization and the Courses about these requirements, in order to make an informed decision before enrolling.

The second downside has to do with Course 1 and Course 2 overlapping materials. I'm referring to guest interview videos. That's mainly a problem of the 2nd Course, as there are almost no guest interviews in this Course, and the one interview provided is already available in Course 1. I understand that the topics discussed apply to the topics of both Courses, but, still, I find it an unnecessary repetition.

The last problem is about the dates that the Courses are run. Course 1 runs during a given period, Course 2 is on demand, but it makes sense to attend it before Course 3, that also runs during a given period, which overlaps with the period of the 1st Course. Sorry, this makes it very difficult to attend everything and to seriously focus, as it's always about running for deadlines, especially when one has to produce three (3) Board Effectiveness Assessment Reflection (BEAR) papers :( .

By Jeanette N

Jun 19, 2019

Whether you are new to non-profit service, or have been volunteering and engaging for years, the course offers useful insights that can lend more substance and impact to your important work.

By Venkataraj

Feb 6, 2021

I will definitely give a five start to this course. It is well organized, step by step and detailed course for someone who wants to work in Non-profit organization.

By Brianne J

Nov 9, 2020

very informative however I felt that the video interviews were often a waste of time.

By Marcin M

Nov 27, 2021

This is the worst course ever! Boring, absolutely no hands on, academic discussion about NGO boards and academic jargon. Quality of videos, material and interviews is horrible. At the test is designed not to test your knowledge but for your to fail to understand double-negation questions and follow text and books which are not provided. Horrible.

By Adrià S P

Jun 10, 2019

The worst course I've ever done. There's no such thing as paying the price of a course and don't learn anything. They give you some pdf with reading that you can get easily for yourself and some basic, simple and useful videos made with power point... I'm totally discontent.

By Adam F

Jun 3, 2021

I will be unenrolling. It is clear that this is not properly positioned for online learning. With no updates in years I think the instructors agree.


Apr 7, 2020

The course is very helpful to me to gain an overview of NPOs around the globe and operations, and in a constructive way discuss about the trend of NPOs and problems that normally encountered to. The course provides a series of interviews and instruments to in-depth elaborate the concept of NPOs and how the effectiveness is affected by what internal and external factors. This is inspiring to use a managerial thought in the NPOs' governance as well as daily operation. So, for those who are working with NPOs or have interests to understand the theory, this course is very much recommended.

By Brenda O

Mar 1, 2021

This course made me understand what and how things go on in the boards. I am excited about the leadership skills I have learnt I cant wait to share them in the next board.

By Michael P

Mar 17, 2024

Very little information provided outside of "Go read these listed books that you have to pay for". The assessments include lots of questions around content found in books outside this course listed as "recommended reading" but required to pass the course. Assignments are MASSIVE compared to other course. First module has a total of 4 papers that are due in 3 to 5 page lengths each in size 12 font. That's ~20 pages in the first introductory course. The discussion boards are barren with comments begging for peer-review from nine months ago unanswered. Avoid this course and find alternatives.

By Natalya B

Feb 3, 2021

The content was poorly outlined. I wish there were more interviews with industry leaders, more focus on best practices and emerging trends in the sector. I wish the quizzes were based on the application of concepts as opposed to memorization of article and book references. This course geared heavily towards a US audience even though the audience had a large non-US component.

By Tofail A

May 28, 2019

The "Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector, Nonprofit Organizations, Nonprofit Leadership and Governance" is an important course for the people who don't has time to study in person. Especially those are working in development and or humanitarian sectors they need this course. I personally learn a lot form this course that is very much align with my job area.

By Yodit Z

Oct 6, 2020

I found the course very helpful interms of providing new insights and best practices in nonprofit organization and nonprofit governance. The more I go through the course, the more keen I become to read further and take the rest of the courses in the series. Great work!


Oct 27, 2017

Excelent!!! I love to understand the NPO and how they are govern. Also the types of NPO and the challenges that Board of Directors face.

Also, I have to said that this course was no too much time demanding, really good to me as I am a Full time employee.

By Anastasja W

May 16, 2024

This course was very effective in helping me to understand the forms of governance and board structure. I look forward to learning more in the next courses, so I can assist my organization better educate our board on their roles and responsibilities.

By Michael H

Jun 29, 2020

This is a good, thorough introduction to nonprofit governance, particularly if one completes the readings. I particularly appreciate being exposed to sources of information and articles related to non-profit organization management and leadership.

By Perliter W

Jul 8, 2020

I have been in the non-profit sector for almost 15 years so the information supplemented what I have been doing and provided a great framework for improvement! I am going to keep going with the Specialization.

By NetCastConsulting

Apr 14, 2016

I highly recommend the entire program to new and even experienced board members in both the non-profit and corporate world. Very real application and concepts that are applicable.

By Birgilio R C

Jun 29, 2023

Excellent tools to understand nonprofit diversity and also their organization, human, technological, resourses, materials, legal , economical and financial requirements.

By Margaret O P

Jun 5, 2016

Great for enhancing your understanding of how non-profits are governed. I'd highly recommend this course for anyone involved with a non-profit organization.

By Miheretab W

Sep 5, 2020

I found this course one of the best I have ever experienced. The course professors, reference books, course assignments, and discussion are so good.

By Joanie E

Mar 15, 2019

Loved this course! I learned so much in so little time. The instructors of this course make it easy to learn and participate. Highly recommend.

By Juan A C

Jun 12, 2017

I made an excellent choice by taking this course while planning and running my own project on Nonprofit entrepreneurship

By Catalina V

Dec 29, 2015

Very thorough and practical. Great insights into the governance and leadership required in the nonprofit sector.