Category Archives: Innovation

The Professionalization of the Nonprofit Sector

The professionalization of the nonprofit-social sector has been a conversation in the last 30 years that has influenced organizational capacity development, social economy classifications, and the emergence of nonprofit management education. This slideshow prepared and presented by Dr. Marco Tavanti, Program Director of the University of San Francisco Nonprofit Administration Program in the School of Management illustrates some of the main elements in relation to San Francisco high tech and philanthropy innovation models, the third and social sector classification (TSE) expanding from the Nonprofit Institutions (NPIs). It also provides an overview of the MNA Program as an example of nonprofit management education following the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC) curricula guidelines and accreditation standards.


The professionalization. of the nonprofit sector has been a subject of investigations and reflections from multiple aspects. Here is a list of useful articles to help you think more specifically about the challenges and opportunities in the area of nonprofit field and sector’s professionalization.

The Professionalization Of Charities: What Nonprofits And For-Profits Can Learn From Each Other (Forbes, 2019):  

The Four Impulses of Nonprofits and What They Each Create (Nonprofit Quarterly, 2015).

Nonprofits & NGOs: Aspirin and Democracy (SSIR, 2018).


To access directly some of the links of organizations mentioned in the presentation and to explore more these topics see the following: 

Wikimedia Foundation

Mozilla Foundation

TechSoup Home 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation



One Small Step for Nonprofits, One Giant Leap for the Sector!

Article written by Dr. Marco Tavanti and originally posted on Linkedin on August 21, 2019

The Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC, founded in 1991), the leading organization promoting and regulating nonprofit management education, achieved an important step in 2019. It launched the first accreditation for nonprofit specific educational programming. The Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) program at University of San Francisco (USF) was one of the first programs to be officially accredited on July 1, 2019. While this accreditation process may not make headlines among nonprofit professionals, organizations, and even nonprofit students, it is a giant leap towards the professionalization of the sector. Older and more established accrediting processes specific to business administration (MBAs) such as The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International, founded in 1916), and those specific to public administration (MPAs/MPPs) such as The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA, founded in 1970) have opened their processes to nonprofit management or nongovernmental leadership programs. However, the nonprofit and social sector is something that requires specific education to guarantee the managerial competencies and leadership capacities for more impactful and effective not-for profit businesses and non-government administered organizations.

As a student of history, I was reading about the professionalization of careers. Interestingly, there was a time in which today‚Äôs highly regulated and exclusive professions such as medical doctors and surgeons were simply ‚Äúglorified barbers‚ÄĚ with sharp tools for limb cutting and ‚Äúbloodletting-cures.‚ÄĚ To this day, the typical barber pole its red-white and later red-white-blue versions that are ubiquitous symbols of the barbershop emerged in the middle ages to signify the ‚Äúbarber‚Äďsurgeons‚ÄĚ practices. It took centuries and radical cultural changes to legitimize and regulate the medical professions through a rigorous and accredited education. Sometimes, it seems that the nonprofit sector is still at this rudimentary stage. Successful business leaders claim to know what our communities need and, leveraged by their financial donations, they enter the social /nonprofit sector prescribing cures based on their concerns for businesses and efficiency. Yet, nonprofit organizations in their multifaceted identities of charity-tax exempt organizations, nongovernmental-international development organizations, community based and faith-based organizations, social movements and social enterprises are more complex than what they first appear. Nonprofits require more than business acumen. They involve more than good intentions of volunteers. They need competent and dedicated professionals equipped with managerial skills and good values of compassion and humanity. They need leaders and managers capable of combining business sustainability with human rights-based policies. If we are serious about the well-being of our communities, we should also be serious and respectful of the competencies necessary for nonprofit administration and social sector management.

The NACC accreditation process assesses these complexities specific to nonprofit management education. Its prioritization for managerial competencies combined with social-humanitarian values reflect the root of Jesuit college education forged 500 years ago. The MNA-USF (established in 1983) has been a pioneer in advancing the specifics of nonprofit administration, management and leadership careers combining the necessary organizational competencies with the essential community equity, human dignity, and inclusive diversity mindsets. While other MBA-like and MPA-like programs increasingly include these integrated characteristics (see PRME for example), the nonprofit specific degrees will continue to sharpen the appropriate preparation for efficient and effective careers for third-sector, philanthropy, CSR/Sustainability and for other community-driven social economy solutions. USF has been a leading example of this by establishing the first nonprofit administration MNA degree. This degree corresponds to the older MBA and MPA degrees. These degrees did not generate a unified voice with other academic institutions who preferred to develop similar but differently named degrees emphasizing management (MNM), organizations (MNO) or leadership (MNL). Indeed, the diversity of the nonprofit / social sector approach is its strength. But these differently named degrees cause confusion and slow down the professionalization process for nonprofit managers and third sector professionals who place nonprofit impact, social transformation and community benefits first.

Therefore, we congratulate NACC for leading this important accreditation process. It is a small step but also a giant leap in the professionalization of the sector. We also congratulate the faculty, administration, alumni, advisors of the MNA program at University of San Francisco’s School of Management who scored 15 out of the 16 maximum accreditation points following the NACC 2015 curricula guidelines. In addition to this accreditation of quality, the program was recognized for its integration of international perspectives, experiential learning, and social impact data analysis. We are proud of our students and graduates who lead the way for a better, more inclusive, more equitable, and more sustainable future. We are part of history! It is time to celebrate! Keep up the good work!

35 Years of Nonprofit Management Education

Dr. Micheal O’Neill and Dr. Marco Tavanti, past and current MNA Program Directors

In 2018 the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA Program) at University of San Francisco celebrated its 35 years of existence since its foundation in 1983 by Dr. Michael O’Neill. The 35th MNA Anniversary Celebration of April 25th featured a panel reflecting on the accomplishments and challenges of nonprofit management education in the 21st Century. This video shares some of the highlights of the events and the valued reflections provided provided by our alumni Jeanne Bell (MNA ’01) and Alexa Cortez Culwell (MNA ’95).

The following are Dr. Marco Tavanti’s opening remarks to the April 25th Anniversary Celebrations

Thank you and welcome to this Panel Discussion and Celebration of the Master of Nonprofit Administration Program Celebration of its 35 Years of Excellence and Social Innovation. We are honored today to have a panel of experts ‚Äď that will introduce shortly — and that will help us to understand some of the main challenge and opportunities in nonprofit education, community responsibility and capacity development. After an award ceremony we will continue our networking celebrations upstairs in the 5th floor AGORA where you can meet MNA alumni, friends and students while also viewing MNA Capstone Posters samples and Infographics from the annual Academic Global Immersion Program on Refugee. In the meantime (and to earn your drinks) you should also respond to the survey in front of you. On the table you can also find a card where you can formulate a question you may have for the panelists.

The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, is a Jesuit method for teaching and learning embedded in our current MNA degree. It starts with observing the reality (seen it also through immersions and experiential learning), followed by the analysis (often through multidisciplinary perspectives and mixed methodologies to understand complex and unjust realities of marginalization), and the action into making the world a better place such as the USF slogan (Change the World from Here…). What was known in Latin America as VER, JULGAR, ACTUAR, has been integrated by impact evaluation and contextualization into our local/global and diverse communities. More recently this method included a new dimension CELEBRAR, to celebrate our accomplishments. Our celebration of the 35th anniversary of the MNA program reflects all these paradigms and invites us to take time to pause, observe, reflect, a celebrate the past and future of nonprofit management education.

In 1983, Dr. Michael O’Neill had the pioneering vision of designing a graduate degree to develop managerial and leadership capacity for nonprofit professionals. The MNA Program was accompanied by the research activities of the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management (INOM) which followed other academic innovations such as the establishment of Nonprofit Academic Center Council (NACC) in 1981 and the creation of the Association of Voluntary Action Scholars later renamed as Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) in 1971. Dr. Michael O’Neill is known as the father of nonprofit management education (NME) that emerged as a field of study through these and other pioneering activities in which he was deeply involved.

While Dr. Michael O’Neill worked on developing the field of NME in the West Coast University of San Francisco, one of his colleague in the East Coast, Prof. Lester Salamon at the Washington DC Urban Institute (now at John Hopkins University) contributed to understand the scope and structure of the nonprofit sector. Today, nonprofit/nongovernmental/charities/philanthropic and voluntary institutions are major forces for good contributing to almost 6% of the American economy and 1/6 of the labor force in California. Internationally, the third sector institutions include a wider spectrum of organizations including hybrid social enterprises and social innovations solutions for the emerging world social economy. Our MNA students know about these developments and also know that both social and economic impact needs to be equally considered and measured to understand the true value of the sector.

In the last 35 years, the Program has generated 612 alumni in key leadership positions and influential roles for the advancement of the capacity, impact and sustainability of the sector.  We are honored today to have with us two of these MNA alumni, Alexa Cortes Culwell (MNA 95), Co-Founder of Open Impact and author of The Giving Code and the Giving Journey and Jeanne Bell (MNA ’01) who served until recently as CEO at Compass Point and now at Nonprofit Quarterly and in our MNA Advisory Board. Jeanne is also a well-known author of Nonprofit Sustainability other publications for the promotion of social impact with sustainable business practices among NPOs.

We are excited to engage in a panel conversation with Michael, Alexa and Jeanne on the past, present and future of nonprofits, its education and its capacity needs for effective leaders and organizations. Who can better represent our voice than one of our current MNA students, Sascha Rosemond (MNA ’19), who currently serves as Development and Donor Relations Assistant at the San Francisco Foundation.

Please join me to welcome Sasha, with Jeanne, Alexa and Michael to these conversations.


Don’t Kill the Golden Goose: Rethinking Accountability Standards in the Nonprofit Sector

Disclaimer‚Äč: ‚Äč‚ÄčThis ‚Äč‚Äčis ‚Äč‚Äčnot ‚Äč‚Äča ‚Äč‚Äčgoose. ‚Äč‚ÄčThis ‚Äč‚Äčis ‚Äč‚Äča ‚Äč‚Äčgolden‚Äč‚Äč Mandarin ‚Äč‚ÄčDuck;‚Äč‚Äč this‚Äč‚Äč photo ‚Äč‚Äčis‚Äč‚Äč meant ‚Äč‚Äčto ‚Äč‚Äčbe ‚Äč‚Äčvisual‚Äč‚Äčaid ‚Äč‚Äčonly and ‚Äč‚Äčnot‚Äč‚Äč a ‚Äč‚Äčtrue ‚Äč‚Äčrepresentation ‚Äč‚Äčof ‚Äč‚Äča‚Äč‚Äč Golden‚Äč‚Äč Goose.



  1. The ‚Äč‚Äčgolden‚Äč‚Äč goose‚Äč‚Äč of‚Äč‚Äč TSOs, ‚Äč‚Äčin‚Äč‚Äč many ‚Äč‚Äčsituations, ‚Äč‚Äčcomes ‚Äč‚Äčto ‚Äč‚Äčbe ‚Äč‚Äčseen‚Äč‚Äč as‚Äč‚Äč the‚Äč‚Äč state‚Äôs‚Äč‚Äč only ‚Äč‚Äčor‚Äč‚Äčbest‚Äč‚Äč hope in ‚Äč‚Äčtackling ‚Äč‚Äč‚Äėwicked ‚Äč‚Äčproblems‚Äô ‚Äč‚Äčsuch ‚Äč‚Äčas ‚Äč‚Äčreducing ‚Äč‚Äčhealth ‚Äč‚Äčinequalities ‚Äč‚Äč(‚ÄčTenbensel,‚Äč‚Äč,‚Äč‚Äč Dwyer,‚Äč‚ÄčJ., ‚Äč‚Äč& Lavoie,‚Äč‚ÄčJ.,‚Äč‚Äč2014).

Large-scale ‚Äč‚Äčmigration ‚Äč‚Äčinto ‚Äč‚Äčthe ‚Äč‚ÄčBritain ‚Äč‚Äčin ‚Äč‚Äčthe‚Äč‚Äč 1960s ‚Äč‚Äčand ‚Äč‚Äč70s ‚Äč‚Äčprompted ‚Äč‚Äčthe ‚Äč‚Äčdevelopment ‚Äč‚Äčof ‚Äč‚Äčthird-sector organizations ‚Äč‚Äčto ‚Äč‚Äčtackle ‚Äč‚Äčunmet ‚Äč‚Äčneeds‚Äč‚Äč of ‚Äč‚Äčthe ‚Äč‚Äčnew ‚Äč‚Äčpopulations ‚Äč‚Äčand ‚Äč‚Äčcommunities. ‚Äč‚ÄčGovernment ‚Äč‚Äčfunders turned ‚Äč‚Äčto ‚Äč‚Äčthird-sector ‚Äč‚Äčorganizations ‚Äč‚Äč(TSOs)‚Äč‚Äč to ‚Äč‚Äčprovide ‚Äč‚Äčcheap ‚Äč‚Äčand‚Äč‚Äč effective ‚Äč‚Äčservices ‚Äč‚Äčto ‚Äč‚Äčfill‚Äč‚Äč gaps.

With ‚Äč‚Äčgovernment ‚Äč‚Äčfunders ‚Äč‚Äčproviding ‚Äč‚Äčthe‚Äč‚Äč capital ‚Äč‚Äč‚Äčfor ‚Äč‚ÄčTSO ‚Äč‚Äčwork, ‚Äč‚Äč another ‚Äč‚Äčissue‚Äč‚Äč came ‚Äč‚Äčto ‚Äč‚Äčthe ‚Äč‚Äčforefront. ‚ÄúAccountability ‚Äč‚Äčmeasures ‚Äč‚Äčimposed ‚Äč‚Äčby ‚Äč‚Äčgovernments‚Äč‚Äč can ‚Äč‚Äčbe ‚Äč‚Äčdebilitating‚Äč‚Äč or ‚Äč‚Äč ‚Äėkilling ‚Äč‚Äčof‚Äč‚Äčthe‚Äč‚Äč golden ‚Äč‚Äčgoose‚ÄĚ (Tenbensel‚Äč‚Äčet‚Äč‚Äčal. ‚Äč‚Äč,‚Äč‚Äč2014). ‚Äč‚ÄčWhile ‚Äč‚Äčtrying ‚Äč‚Äčto‚Äč‚Äč expand‚Äč‚Äč services‚Äč‚Äč TSOs ‚Äč‚Äčare ‚Äč‚Äčburdened‚Äč‚Äč by‚Äč‚Äčstringent‚Äč‚Äč accountability measures. ‚Äč‚ÄčA‚Äč‚Äč conflict ‚Äč‚Äčarises ‚Äč‚Äčbetween ‚Äč‚Äčgovernment ‚Äč‚Äčfunder‚Äôs‚Äč‚Äč needs ‚Äč‚Äčfor‚Äč‚Äčtransparency‚Äč‚Äč and ‚Äč‚Äčaccountability ‚Äč‚Äčand being ‚Äč‚Äčmindful ‚Äč‚Äčthat‚Äč‚Äč accountability ‚Äč‚Äčmeasures‚Äč‚Äč can ‚Äč‚Äčstifle ‚Äč‚Äča ‚Äč‚ÄčTSOs ‚Äč‚Äčimpact.

Tenbensel‚Äč‚Äčet‚Äč‚Äčal. ‚Äč‚Äč (2014) ‚Äč‚Äč describes ‚Äč‚Äčthe ‚Äč‚Äčdifferent ‚Äúpulls‚ÄĚ ‚Äč‚Äčthat‚Äč‚Äč TSOs ‚Äč‚Äčencounter.

Downward ‚Äč‚ÄčPull-‚Äč‚Äčcommunity ‚Äč‚Äč (members, ‚Äč‚Äčclients, ‚Äč‚Äčcommunity‚Äč‚Äčleaders, ‚Äč‚Äčand‚Äč‚Äč other ‚Äč‚Äčorganizations).

Lateral ‚Äč‚ÄčPull-‚Äč‚Äč one ‚Äč‚Äčanother‚Äč‚Äč and ‚Äč‚Äčthemselves‚Äč‚Äč (staff, ‚Äč‚Äčvolunteers, ‚Äč‚Äčcommunity‚Äč‚Äč board‚Äč‚Äč members, ‚Äč‚Äčand‚Äč‚Äčcommunity agencies). ‚Äčwith‚Äč‚Äč whom‚Äč‚Äč they‚Äč‚Äč work‚Äô‚Äč

Upward-‚Äčfunders. ‚Äč

Tenbensel‚Äč‚Äč et ‚Äč‚Äčal. ‚Äč‚Äč(2014)‚Äč‚Äč developed ‚Äč‚Äča‚Äč‚Äč comprehensive ‚Äč‚Äčframework ‚Äč‚Äčto ‚Äč‚Äčaddress ‚Äč‚Äčoverburdened ‚Äč‚ÄčTSOs.

  1. Do‚Äč‚Äčno‚Äč‚Äčharm‚Äč‚Äč-‚Äč‚Äč do‚Äč‚Äčnot‚Äč‚Äčin advertently ‚Äč‚Äčincrease ‚Äč‚Äčoverall‚Äč‚Äč accountability ‚Äč‚Äčmeasures ‚Äč‚Äčfor ‚Äč‚ÄčTSOs.
  2. ‚ÄėBest ‚Äč‚Äčfit‚Äô‚Äč generation‚Äč‚Äč-‚Äč‚Äčpublic ‚Äč‚Äčmanagers ‚Äč‚Äčshould‚Äč‚Äč play ‚Äč‚Äčan ‚Äč‚Äčactive ‚Äč‚Äčrole ‚Äč‚Äčin ‚Äč‚Äčfacilitating ‚Äč‚Äčenvironments ‚Äč‚Äčin which‚Äč‚Äč TSO ‚Äč‚Äčaccountability ‚Äč‚Äčrequirements ‚Äč‚Äčbetween ‚Äč‚Äčthe ‚Äč‚Äčpoints‚Äč‚Äč of ‚Äč‚Äčthe ‚Äč‚Äčtriskele ‚Äč‚Äčare‚Äč‚Äč better ‚Äč‚Äčaligned.
  3. Consideration ‚Äč‚Äčof ‚Äč‚Äčcollateral ‚Äč‚Äčimpact‚Äč‚Äč of ‚Äč‚Äčaccountability ‚Äč‚Äčmeasures.
  4. Use ‚Äč‚Äčtriskele‚Äč‚Äč as ‚Äč‚Äča ‚Äč‚Äčfoundation‚Äč‚Äč for ‚Äč‚Äčconversation ‚Äč‚Äčbetween ‚Äč‚ÄčTSOs ‚Äč‚Äčand ‚Äč‚Äčall‚Äč‚Äč stakeholders‚Äč‚Äčabout accountability.
  5. Triskele ‚Äč‚Äčframework ‚Äč‚Äčcan ‚Äč‚Äčbe ‚Äč‚Äčused ‚Äč‚Äčto‚Äč‚Äč assess ‚Äč‚Äčnew ‚Äč‚Äčor ‚Äč‚Äčprospective ‚Äč‚Äčdevelopments ‚Äč‚Äčthat ‚Äč‚Äčare‚Äč‚Äč likely ‚Äč‚Äčto impact ‚Äč‚Äčthe‚Äč‚Äč organization‚Äôs ‚Äč‚Äčaccountability ‚Äč‚Äčenvironment.

The‚Äč‚Äč Triskele ‚Äč‚Äčframework ‚Äč‚Äčand¬† ‚Äč‚Äčknowledge ‚Äč‚Äčof ‚Äč‚Äčhow ‚Äč‚Äčaccountability ‚Äč‚Äčmeasures ‚Äč‚Äčcan ‚Äč‚Äčimpact ‚Äč‚ÄčTSOs ‚Äč‚Äčis ‚Äč‚Äčbeneficial ‚Äč‚Äčfor nonprofit ‚Äč‚Äčscholars ‚Äč‚Äčto ‚Äč‚Äčhave ‚Äč‚Äčawareness ‚Äč‚Äčand ‚Äč‚Äčbecome ‚Äč‚Äčadvocates ‚Äč‚Äčfor ‚Äč‚Äčorganizations ‚Äč‚Äčwe ‚Äč‚Äčwork ‚Äč‚Äčwith ‚Äč‚Äčnow‚Äč‚Äč and ‚Äč‚Äčin the‚Äč‚Äč future.

Social Movements: Seeing Change Through to Fruition with Strategy and Partnerships

By Claire Lewis

Earlier this year, I participated in my first protest ever ‚Äď The Women‚Äôs March. I cannot remember who organized it or who invited me to the Facebook event group; I just knew I wanted to make a difference. If raising awareness was the key objective, then we definitely accomplished that goal. According to USA Today, 2.6 individuals across 32 countries participated in this historical march. Celebrities from America Ferrerra to Madonna gave powerful speeches about the importance of women‚Äôs rights. News stations across the globe covered this momentous day.

How was such a feat accomplished? The answer is social media. Facebook protest events across various cities and states filled my newsfeed leading up to the day. I witnessed many friends mark they were ‚Äúinterested‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúgoing‚ÄĚ to these events.

However, despite this outpouring of support, there is little to no reform. One of the issues with ‚Äúsocial media‚ÄĚ marches is the lack of strategy behind the effort. I, like many others, was unclear as to the main purpose or end-goal of the Women‚Äôs March. Was it a particular policy change? If so, was it related to sexual harassment, gender inequality in pay, freedom of choice, and/or all of the above?

In order to sustain long-term change in policy and legislation, strategy, goals, and hard work need to be put forth and adhered to. This Ted Talk goes into more detail on the lack of strategy behind online uprisings. As, Zeynep points out, the Civil Rights movement was incredibly successful because there was a well thought out strategy, what she refers to as ‚Äúslow and sustained‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúpainstaking long-term work.‚ÄĚ The Civil Rights movement also had specific, tangible goals such as ending segregation and reversing ‚Äúseparate but equal.‚ÄĚ Both individuals (ex. MLK) as well as the work of SMO‚Äôs led to major change. For example, the NAACP was instrumental in policy change. NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, challenged segregation in the landmark case, Plessy V. Ferguson that later led to Brown v. Board of Education. The Brown Case resulted in large-scale protests such as the March on Washington.

These powerful protests are the reason for both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Clearly, both SMOs and individuals are important in a social movement. So the question is, in our current social media climate, how can we harness the power of these social media inspired protests and actually produce tangible results? To me, this is more important than whether an SMO or an individual creates a protest event on Facebook. I do not care who starts it, I just want to contribute and see change actually happen.

The first step is creation of a strategy. Many SMOs already have strategy and goals built into their programming. For example, the NAACP has various toolkits for social change initiatives. The trick is to connect SMOs to these grassroots movements so that everyone is on the same page.

Below are some ideas I brainstormed that could create movements that are more effective. I assume (and hope) that at least some of these ideas are already in place.

  • SMOs identifying and working with various grassroots protest planners to create strategies and goals together that can be communicated to the masses
  • SMOs training leaders to be part of these small grassroots movements and educate groups
  • SMOs attending various protests as guest speakers and/or handing out information
  • SMOs collaborating with influential social change leaders such as Michael Moore to ensure a goal is put in place and communicated. He does a great job, but a partnership with an SMO could be even more impactful
  • SMOs and/or individuals harnessing various media sources to make it clear what the public needs to do in order to achieve the goal (make it easy to do, easy to understand)
  • SMOs educating the public at various venues on what legislation is related to the current issue, what propositions to watch out for, etc.
  • SMOs partnering with small grassroots groups to create follow-up sessions after protests
  • SMOs and/or individuals partnering with schools and universities to provide education on various social issues and legislation to build a pipeline

Our current social media climate has so much potential for enacting real, tangible change. By harnessing the strategies that SMOs already construct and articulating clear goals, we have a chance at influencing policy change. SMOs and individuals can be much more powerful as a team, and I hope there will be more partnerships in the future. I am so proud of the Women’s March and awareness it spread, but I want to see women receive equal pay, a right to choose, and fair trials in the cases of rape and sexual assault. I want to see not just a short-term uprising, but long-term change. The partnership of SMOs and individuals can act as a catalyst to bring reform to fruition.

Using Neutrality to Protect Humanity

By Hayley Walker and Valdeir Faria Filho

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are functioning in our global society, some better than others. Some are well-known (CARE, Amnesty International, Red Cross) and use effective marketing techniques, lobbying efforts, and provide programs internationally. Others are small, local organizations that work to make life better for specific groups of people. Regardless, these diverse and varying NGOs have multiple commonalities, though they may not be fully visible on the surface. All, however, embark on missions to protect humanity.

The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) is an international organization that aims to unite NGOs and promote peace and wellbeing across the globe. WANGO offers resources and support to create connections among organizations striving to create a more just, sustainable world for all. As a proponent of networks and collaborations, WANGO sheds light on the synergy that results from global organizations working towards a common goal. With widespread government support, exceptional visionaries, and dedicated donors, WANGO has worked for the past 17 years to encourage NGOs to connect across borders and without boundaries, and to hold steadfast to the following guiding principles (WANGO Code of Ethics):

  • Responsibility, service, and public mindedness
  • Cooperation beyond boundaries
  • Human rights and dignity
  • Religious freedom
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Truthfulness and legality

NGOs, in the broadest sense, cannot be for profit organizations, must be independent of government, must not interfere in domestic state affairs, and must not advocate violence (Kaloudis, 2017). However, there comes a time when disaster relief and humanitarian organizations must interfere‚ÄĒor rather, intervene‚ÄĒin domestic affairs in an effort to protect humanity. Non-governmental organizations are frequently caught in the cross-fire of waring territories, failed states, and desperate civilians, with one goal in mind: to provide relief for those in need.

During times of crisis, NGOs rely deeply on their neutrality to aid them in reaching the most people possible. In accordance with WANGO‚Äôs principle of working towards cooperation beyond boundaries, neutrality refers to refraining from taking sides on issues regarding political, cultural, religious affiliation, or other sensitive issues that may result in conflict. That does not mean that NGOs disappear or go into hiding during such conflicts, but rather work harder to serve all affected‚ÄĒregardless of their stance on the issues. Impactful NGOs uphold the policy of not ‚Äútaking sides,‚ÄĚ and this is crucial to the safety of workers, volunteers, donors, and civilians. However, in recent years NGOs have faced difficulty in mitigating suffering as impartial entities, in part due to assumed association with national governments or international organizations (Brechenmacher, 2015). ¬†Aid and relief of organizations urge conflicting parties to respect their neutral stance as they provide desperately needed services to civilians, but reality does not always allow provide for this ideal situation. State militaries may claim alliances with NGOs, and rebel forces may see this alliance as a threat to their progress. NGOs, however, frequently default to the emphasizing the value of impartiality in conflict zones and assert their neutral stance to relieve human suffering‚ÄĒa practice that is often debated. In order to reach civilians who may be trapped or displaced deep within war zones and conflict arenas, NGOs must carefully negotiate with opposing parties. They must ensure they remain under enough security to serve, but enough neutrality to relieve the suffering civilians from all sides.

Leading from the Ground Up: Establishing Ethics and Social Responsibility in USF’s Nonprofit Student Council

By: Brandon Jones, Greg Justice, and Elizabeth Silva,

2017-18 Full-Time Cohort 

The study of ethics – historically known as ‚ÄúMoral Philosophy‚ÄĚ – traces its roots to the time of early Greece, having been discussed significantly by Socrates and Plato (01), and mainly, in the pursuit of ‚Äújustice.‚ÄĚ ¬†(No relation.)

Fast forward over two millennia Рgive or take a few hundred years, and we find ourselves studying ethics in a new capacity.  That is, how do we build an ethical and socially responsible student government from the ground up, paying tribute today’s standards, yet leaving an ethical structure for future cohorts?

The University of San Francisco‚Äôs Master of Nonprofit Administration (‚ÄúMNA‚ÄĚ) has within the program a fully autonomous student government – the Nonprofit Student Council (‚ÄúNSC‚ÄĚ). ¬†NSC serves the needs, ideas, and professional development of the MNA student body. ¬†In our official affairs, governing documents, and the spirit of our governance, NSC is building an ethical foundation, providing a respectful and dignified environment for current and future students.

NSC’s Core Values

From the very beginning of NSC’s deliberations, the executive board Рthe collective six officers pictured right Р has stressed the need for engagement, collaboration, and representation; access and inclusion; oversight and accountability; and, most importantly, diversity, as our guiding principles.  As the governing council for MNA students, we benefit greatly with these values, making sure we do our best to represent every student in a thoughtful and equitable manner.

NSC’s Mission Statement

Our guiding principles are best embodied in the NSC mission statement, memorializing our official commitment to these values. ¬†The purpose of NSC is to, ‚Äúprovide a unified voice for students with a focus on promoting and improving the MNA program at The University of San Francisco. The NSC provides a vehicle for student perspectives, ideas, and a means of promoting events on behalf of the student body. The NSC club will promote co-curricular activities pertinent to the nonprofit field as well as support and encourage collaboration with other nonprofit professionals…‚ÄĚ ¬†Again, embedded in NSC‚Äôs mission statement is collaboration, representation, and inclusion, all being values allowing for ‚Äėbetter‚Äô and inclusive governance.

Code of Ethics

NSC has recently initiated the process for designing a Conflict-of-Interest policy, catered to our specific affairs and operations, and will be considering this at the next officer’s meeting.  Besides implementing this best practice, the executive board values an orderly governance system, equally available and protective of all parties.  Despite having a Treasurer and Vice-President for Communications, all financial records and official communications are shared with officers, program and university officials, and most importantly, MNA students. (We have even established a program-wide email listserv, guaranteeing all MNA students Рpart- and full-time Рare well-informed, and have a timely accounting of their officer’s.)

Ethics Officer

Unlike other student governments and organizations, NSC has taken the step to permanently secure the implementation of oversight, access, accountability, and other related practices, with a new officer position.  Appointed just last week, Greg Finkelstein serves as the Director of Standards and Practices, ensuring organizational compliance with governing and ethical protocol.  Finkelstein also chairs the newly formed Standards and Practices Committee, bringing in independent and impartial students overseeing NSC’s compliance.


When considering any program, service, or obligation, NSC creates an ‚ÄúOfficer‚Äôs Report,‚ÄĚ providing assessments for risk, finance, governance, and overall compliance. ¬†These reports provide an extra layer of administrative and ethical analysis, making sure our values and guiding principles are effectively considered in all matters before the executive board.

The board also recently adopted a 72-hour deadline for introducing and disseminating all agenda items and reports, guaranteeing equal access and consideration to all parties and stakeholders in official affairs.  Further, although our meetings regularly take place physically on our campus, all meetings are also broadcast via Zoom Рa webinar platform, allowing all who desire to participate to do so.


Further ethical drivers Рsuch as, risk assessment and governance analyses, leadership and ethics trainings, as well as, organizational socialization Рwill be the path NSC takes in our ongoing ethics quest.   Despite implementing these best practices and guiding principles, NSC cannot rest on any laurels, as we recognize maintaining an ethical and socially responsible organization requires continuous development, organizational reflection, and ongoing assessment and refinement of the overall governing structure.  

For more information about NSC, please contact, or visit our website at, or Twitter @usfnsc.

Silva serves as Secretary, Justice as President, and Jones is a contributor to NSC’s development. Receives the USF California Prize 2016

Awarding the 1-1-1 Model

The University of San Francisco is proud to award the 2016 California Prize for Service and the Common Good to for its commitment to giving back to the community and setting a new standard for integrated corporate philanthropy. When Salesforce was founded in 1999, it transformed corporate philanthropy with the 1-1-1 model, an integrated philanthropy model that donates 1 percent equity, 1 percent product and 1 percent employee time to communities around the world. Today, carries out Salesforce’s philanthropic mission.

The USF California Prize

Since 2008, the University of San Francisco has awarded the California Prize for Service and the Common Good to an individual or organization, recognizing significant service to the poor and marginalized as well as groundbreaking achievements in pursuit of the common good. The California Prize is USF’s way of rewarding, honoring, and celebrating the work of those who share our commitment to create a more humane, just, and sustainable world.… Beyond a Foundation

Salesforce’s philanthropic entities have donated more than $100 million in grants globally since 1999, including $14 million in grants to the San Francisco Unified School District; and Salesforce employees have volunteered more than 1.1 million hours in their local communities. also powers more than 27,000 nonprofits by offering technology to nonprofits and higher education institutions for free or at a discount.

Transforming Corporate Philanthropy

Extending the power of the 1-1-1 model, has created a movement of corporate philanthropy with Pledge 1%, resulting in more than 600 companies dedicating employee time, equity, product, or profit back to the community.

‚ÄúLike the University of San Francisco, is committed to making the city and the world a better place,‚Ä̬†said USF President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. ‚ÄúAs the university of¬†and¬†for San Francisco, USF shares a commitment with to educate and to give back for the good of all of society.‚ÄĚ

Source: California Prize 2016 | University of San Francisco