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Entrepreneurship in Nonprofits

Take a look at the world of social entrepreneurship and familiarize yourself with new concepts and methods of entrepreneurship.

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Entrepreneurship in Nonprofits
  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Learn about economic tools to become a successful social entrepreneur.

Nonprofit organizations operate globally in many areas. They address societal issues in fields like health, culture and arts, environment, education and research. With their work, they make a significant contribution to sustainable social and ecological development. This course provides you with the economic tools and knowledge that are needed to become a successful social entrepreneur. It gives you an introduction to the topics that need to be addressed in order to make informed decisions in nonprofits, and it asks you to look upon your own practices in order to critically reflect your learnings.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds Have you ever wondered how to turn industrial fallow into a lively and inspiring new district?

Skip to 0 minutes and 23 seconds Or have you ever wanted to find a way to further global hygiene recycling refuse?

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 seconds Or have you already started your own nonprofit organisation? We were five people with one strong idea, and that’s the way we started it. We started from the scratch. So at the beginning there was like the acquisition of key partners. In this course, you will become acquainted with exciting stories of nonprofit organisations that help meet the manifold challenges we face in today’s world. We will provide you with the needed skills and knowledge to turn your ideas into tales of success.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 seconds We help you to understand how innovative concepts need to be implemented when financial means are scarce, and we give you an introduction to the topics that need to be addressed in order to make informed decisions and to apply your learnings in practise. In short, you learn how your nonprofit organisation achieves greater impact through entrepreneurial theories and tools. We feel very confident about one thing, entrepreneurship is a concept that is able to address many problems. Globally, there are innovative solutions to be found. This course helps you to devise the skill sets you need to develop them. We are looking forward to welcoming you.


  • Week 1

    Organizational theories and entrepreneurship

    • Challenging the future of nonprofits

      Gain insights into what social entrepreneurship is all about. Meet Professor Georg von Schnurbein and find out what you can expect from this course.

    • Understanding organizations: path dependency theory

      Learn about path dependency theory to understand the consequences of your decisions in a long-term perspective.

    • Understanding organizations: institutional isomorphism, self regulation and resource dependency theory

      Get an overview of important theories that help you analyze organizational development.

    • Understanding organizations: an expert’s opinion

      Listen to an expert in the field of organization research and find out which theories he considers to be promising.

  • Week 2

    Social entrepreneurship

    • What is a social enterprise?

      Explore and discuss the difference between nonprofit and social enterprise and gain insights into the state of social entrepreneurship in different countries.

    • What makes a social entrepreneur successful?

      This activity introduces you to current trends for nonprofits in different countries as well as different aspects of entrepreneurial thinking.

    • Strategies for the future development of nonprofits

      You are introduced to social entrepreneurship as strategy and encouraged to think about possible improvements in your own organization.

  • Week 3

    Introduction to social innovation

    • The concept of social innovation

      Based on practical examples, this activity explains the concept of social innovation in contrast to other definitions of innovation.

    • Social innovation in practice

      Get acquainted with different tools to plan and analyze social innovation and develop your own social innovation model.

    • Your own social innovation model

      Investigate current innovations in your field of interest and develop your own social innovation model.

  • Week 4

    New financing models

    • The challenges of nonprofit finance

      In this activity, you learn about basics in financial management and reporting in nonprofits.

    • Managing finances within nonprofits

      Using different methods of budgeting and relevant concepts and indicators for practical use, criteria for planning, managing, and controlling financial resources are introduced.

    • Impact investing

      Discover impact investing as an alternative to traditional funding methods.

  • Week 5

    Impact measurement

    • Are we really making a change?

      This activity sensitizes you to the difficult methodological question of how we can measure the real-world impact of nonprofits.

    • Impact measurement

      Learn how to measure the effectiveness of your project and get acquainted with different models of impact measurement.

    • Farewell

      Gain a holistic perspective on entrepreneurship in nonprofits and recapitulate the most important aspects of this course.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore theories that help to analyze entrepreneurial activity
  • Investigate the potentials and pitfalls of social entrepreneurship
  • Identify your own social innovation model
  • Develop a plan for your financial resources
  • Evaluate impact measurement as a tool for communication and accountability

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for anyone interested in the topics of social entrepreneurship and dedicated people who work in the nonprofit sector or would like to do so. You don’t need prior knowledge of the economic tools that are needed to apply entrepreneurship in nonprofits - this course addresses non-professionals as well as NPO executives and employees and students of economics and management at BA and MA level.

Who will you learn with?

Professor for Philanthropy Studies at University of Basel. My major research interests are nonprofit management and governance, impact analysis, and nonprofit finances.

Who developed the course?

University of Basel

The University of Basel has an international reputation of outstanding achievements in research and teaching.

Endorsers and supporters

content provided by

CEPS logo

funded by

Fondation Botnar logo

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