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OEL 655: Role of Nonprofit in Fostering Social Change (Graduate Level)

Course Description

This course focuses on the impact of nonprofit organization in fostering social change and the roles of the director and board in bringing about social change. The course will challenge students to consider the shift from a program centric model to a mission centric approach that is focused on social impact, outcomes, and measures of success. Students will also gain an understanding of the roles and influences (positive and negative) of philanthropy on political advocacy and social change movements in the U.S.; the scope and diversity of the philanthropic sector; political advocacy approaches and social movements; and examples of current philanthropic involvement in advocacy and social change efforts across the political spectrum. It will examine nonprofit organizations that have succeeded and those that have failed in implementing social change. (3 credits)


  • OEL 501: Learning Community

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Describe various theories, concepts and models associated with organizational change processes to apply to an organizational dilemma.
  2. Evaluate the importance of organizational change and illustrate the role that learning plays in an organizational change process.
  3. Explain the effects of philanthropy on social movements and political change.
  4. Compare the program centric model to the mission centric model, including advantages and disadvantages as it relates to fostering social change.
  5. Formulate a solid assessment of a nonprofit's capacity to engage in advocacy and social change.
  6. Explain how to engage key constituencies including staff, board and volunteers in bringing about change.
  7. Explain the intersection of philanthropy with policy, business, law and society.
  8. Develop a strategic plan for a nonprofit that will foster social change, including outcomes assessment.

Applicable Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

4. Recommend how one develops effective groups.
5. Construct organizational leadership strategies.
7. Design and implement organizational change processes.
9. Develop strategies that support the advancement of organization's vision and mission.
10. Apply various nonprofit fundraising principles and practices to accomplish the organization's financial goals.
11. Formulate change strategies that supports a continual changing landscape for nonprofit organizations.

Course Activities and Grading



Discussions (12 Discussion Questions @ 25 points each/1 Discussion Question @ 50 points)


Critical Analysis Paper - Non Profit (200 points)


Critical Analysis Paper - Philanthropic (200 points)


Strategic Plan Revision / Research Project (250 points)


Total Points


Required Textbooks

(Available through our online bookstore)

  • Faber, D. R. and D. McCarthy.Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy Popular Movements. Rowman & Littlefield, Inc., 2005. ISBN-13: 9780742549883

Supplemental Required Readings/Resources

  • Links to the supplemental readings and articles are provided in the course shells.

Course Schedule




Readings and Exercises





An introduction to change: social and organizational & Organizational change and learning

  • ASHE-ERIC Higher Education report. (2001). Theories and Models of Organizational Change. Understanding and Facilitating Organizational Change in the 21st Century. 28:4 PP 25-54.
  • Brest, P. (Spring 2010). The Power of Theories of Social Change. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Pp. 46-51.
  • Evans, S.D. & Kivell, N. (2015). The Transformation Team: An Enabling Structure for Organizational Learning in Action. Journal of Community Psychology. 43:6. Pp. 760-777.
  • Yorks, L. & Barto, J. (Spring 2015). Workplace, organizational and Societal: Three Domains of Learning for 21st - Century Cities. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. No. 145. Pp. 35 - 44.
  • Read assigned articles
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material




The role of nonprofits on advocacy & The role of nonprofit organization in policy development and change

  • Child, C.D. & Gronbjerg, K.A. (March 2007). Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations: Their Characteristics and Activities. Social Science Quarterly. 88:1 pp. 259-281
  • Smith, S.R. (May/June 2003). Government and Nonprofits in the Modern Age. Society. 40:4. Pp. 36-45
  • Smith, S.R. (Winter 2001). Nonprofit organizations in Urban Politics and Policy. Policy Studies Review. 18:4. Pp. 7- 26
  • Vaughan, S.K. & Arsneault, S. (2008). Not-for-Profit Advocacy: Challenging Policy Images and Pursuing Policy Change. Review of Policy Research. 25:5. Pp 411 - 428.
  • Yoshioka, T. (2014). Representational Roles of Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations in the United States. Voluntas. International Society for Third-Sector Research and the Johns Hopkins University. 25:1062-1090.
  • Read assigned articles
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Participate in Group Chat




The role of nonprofits in social development and change; Using evaluation and strategic planning to influence organizational change & Stakeholder engagement in evaluation and strategic planning

  • Read assigned articles
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Watch video
  • Critical Analysis Paper - Nonprofit Due




The influence of philanthropy on organizational structure and strategic planning in nonprofit

  • Morina, M. (2011). Leap of Reason: Managing Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity. Marino Institute: Venture Philanthropy Partner. Washington, DC.
  • Participate in the Discussion
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Participate in Group Chat




The intersection of philanthropy with business, government/law, and society

  • Jenkins, G.W. (2011). Who’s Afraid of Philanthrocapitalism? Case Western Reserves Law Review. 61:3. Pp. 753 - 821.
  • Faber Text, Introduction, Chapter 1
  • Read assigned articles and chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Critical Analysis Paper - Philanthropic Due




The influence of philanthropy in policy development

  • Faber Text, Chapter 2 - 6
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussion
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Participate in Group Chat




The influence of philanthropy on social change movements

  • Faber Text, 7 - 10
  • Kohl-Arenas, E. (2014). Will the Revolution Be Funded? Resource Mobilization and the California Farm Worker Movement. Social Movement Studies. 13:4. Pp. 482-498.
  • Read assigned article and chapters
  • Participate in the Discussion
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Participate in Group Chat




Integration of major concepts and conclusion

  • Students will be required to read the research assignments of two (2) classmates and formulate two discussion questions for each presentation.
  • Read assigned projects
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Research Project Due
  • Complete Course Evaluation

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