Nonprofits can benefit from certification program




The Mississippi Center for Nonprofits launched a certification program Wednesday for organizations on the Gulf Coast.

The program, Excellence in Action, is designed to increase the capacity of the nonprofit sector and to train board members, staff and volunteers on how to make their organizations thrive, said Mark McCrary, executive director of the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits.

“Often times they come up from compassion, not training,” McCrary said of how many nonprofits are formed.

The certification program is based on a 2007 publication from the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits entitled “Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Management Excellence.”

Components of the program include the topics of planning and purpose, fundraising, board governance, public policy and advocacy, human resources, information and technology, financial management, strategic alliances, transparency and accountability, and programmatic effectiveness.

“We’re trying to get our nonprofits on a better playing field,” McCrary said.

While there are more than 13,000 nonprofit organizations in the state, the pilot run of the Excellence in Action program is targeted to about 120 nonprofit organizations on the Coast that have a staff and a budget of $100,000 or more.

South Mississippi is the second- or third-largest sector of nonprofits in the state, McCrary said. He estimates there are about 400 nonprofit organizations on the Coast that work with budgets of at least $100,000 and said he has extended an invitation to all organizations meeting the program’s requirements.

Nonprofit staff or board members must complete up to 20 hours of training over a 6- to 12-month period to receive certification. Sessions are held at flexible times, and many can be completed online.

There are still openings for nonprofits to sign up, McCrary said.

The program will be funded over three years by a grant through the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Costs to participants are $25 for members of the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits and $50 for nonmembers.

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