It is Tuesday at noon, and twenty civic-minded undergraduate Emerson College students enrolled in the course Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns take their seats. In another classroom, twenty-five students enrolled in Introduction to Nonprofit Communication Management are learning which nonprofit organizations they will partner with to provide a social media audit. There is a buzz in both classrooms, as students discuss assignments, campaigns, and nonprofit organizations. This generation of college students are social justice and equity-minded and, as part of Gen Z, “The core values of the generation are reflected in their prioritizing social activism more than previous generations and in the importance they place on working at organizations whose values align with their own.” (Welcome to Gen Z, Deloitte, 2018)
As part of the curriculum, students learn about creating effective communication strategies, methods of evaluating organizations’ finances, development, ethical practices, and impact. Nonprofit Communication Management is an academic minor, which intentionally pairs experiential and lecture-style learning. Students practice what they learn by working directly with nonprofit partners each semester. To date, students in this program have worked with over sixty nonprofit organizations, both local and international.
Charity Navigator continues to be an essential tool used in the curriculum. It allows students to view elements about nonprofits that inform them and the public. Students are taught that decision-making for donors and funders involves identifying whether an organization is financially sound and if their practices are transparent and impactful. Why choose Charity Navigator as a teaching tool? Simply put, it is the gold standard for disseminating evaluative and trusted information about nonprofits. Students utilize the data on Charity Navigator for both courses because often an organization’s website alone does not share its impact or financial data. There is no doubt that, without access to this data from Charity Navigator, this information would be challenging to unearth.