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Fall Consortium Course on Nonprofits and Public Policy

Dr. Jasmine Johnson recommends Trachtenberg School students consider this course available at American University this fall: PUAD 685.5 Nonprofits and Public Policy, Thursdays, 5:30-8:00p.m.

Course Description

Policy directs and shapes the activities of nonprofits in many ways including how they structure themselves, raise funds, and advocate for policy change. This course examines both how policy influences nonprofits as well as how nonprofits impact policy. It will address the role of nonprofit organizations in the public policy process including advocacy strategies and techniques and examine in turn how laws shape nonprofit involvement in that process. The course will also review state and federal policy that enables and regulates nonprofits including legal forms, tax exemption, fundraising regulations, and governance. Guest speakers will provide an overview of some of the more complex topics of nonprofit law and advocacy strategies. While not an exhaustive review of the law, students will gain an understanding of where policy intersects with nonprofit activities and learn how to operate within a basic nonprofit legal framework.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the role of nonprofit organizations in the public policy process and discuss how nonprofit and government relationships have evolved in recent decades;
  • Explain how nonprofits shape public policy through advocacy and discuss current and emerging policy issues in which nonprofits engage;
  • Describe nonprofit law in the areas of charitable giving, advocacy, lobbying, commercial activity, fundraising and employee compensation and discuss management implications of these laws; and
  • Evaluate organizations’ advocacy strategies within the existing legal framework.


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