Reevaluating the NACC Curricular Guidelines through a Mixed Methods Approach at Arizona State University
The nonprofit sector has experienced exponential growth in recent decades, thus creating a separate industry for nonprofits—an industry that requires education and training to run efficiently and successfully. As a result, Nonprofit Management Education (NME) at both graduate and undergraduate levels has steadily increased in number and demand. Recent changes in the political climate and changes in the government funding present new challenges to nonprofit professionals, thus enhancing the value of specific NME to prepare professionals for these challenges. To leverage NME and ensure that students are adequately prepared for these challenges, it is important to design curriculum that addresses the needs of the growing nonprofit industry. The Nonprofit Academic Center of Councils is the creator of the NACC Curricular Guidelines, which are currently used as a model all NME curricula should emulate. This study utilizes Arizona State University (ASU) to compare its current curriculum model to the NACC Curricular Guidelines, as well as the current challenges facing the nonprofit sector. In so doing, this study will provide an in-depth overview of NME at ASU through 1) focus groups of nonprofit leaders; 2) survey data from former students; and 3) curriculum mapping.
The comprehensive results indicated areas of opportunity for both ASU and the NACC Curricular Guidelines. According to the feedback of students, nonprofit professionals, and the current state of the ASU curriculum, ASU may wish to increase emphasis on Financial Management, Managing Staff and Volunteers, Assessment, Evaluation, and Decision Making, and Leading and Managing Nonprofit Organizations. After considering feedback from nonprofit professionals, NACC may consider amending some new competencies that reflect an emphasis on collective impact, cross sector leadership, or relationship building and the use of technology for nonprofit impact. The research team recommends accomplishing these changes through enhancing pedagogy by including case studies and an integrated curriculum into the ASU NME program. by applying the suggested changes to both the ASU curriculum and the NACC guidelines, this research prepares both ASU and NACC towards the process of accreditation and formalizing the NLM degree on a national level.