Faith-Based Nonprofit Leadership
Certificate Program

Building the skills and knowledge of current and future leaders in the nonprofit sector.

The Faith-Based Nonprofit Leadership Certificate Program is a two-semester program, open to students and non-students, and co-led by Wake Forest School of Divinity professor Dr. John Senior and School of Law professor Steve Virgil.

In the fall 2020 term, the course meets for 13 weeks of completely online instruction between August 24, 2020 and November 20, 2020. In the spring 2021 term, certificate participants complete a project, in consultation with course instructors, that advances the mission and vision of their organizations.

Elizabeth Kilby

Elizabeth Kilby, Young Adult Minister at First Baptist Church Statesville

“The program opened my eyes to possibilities within the faith-based and non-profit realm that I had not thought about. It connected me with some amazing people that I still talk to today about their journey and it allowed me to envision a future of diverse possibilities instead of the boxes of positions and job descriptions that are so often created.”


The program is ideal for participants who are:

  • Current and aspiring leaders of nonprofits (staff, board members, or volunteers)
  • Interested in forming a new nonprofit

Certificates of completion will be awarded through the Wake Forest University School of Divinity following completion of all sessions and related assignments in the fall 2020 term and a capstone project in the spring 2021 term.

Note: The certificate program is not credit-bearing; students do not earn course credit towards any degree.

Course Topics*

  • The Role of Nonprofits in Society: Morally, Ethically, and Legally
  • The History of Nonprofits in the United States
  • An Introduction to Nonprofits and the Nonprofit Sector Today
  • Crafting Mission and Vision Statements
  • The Legal Structure of Nonprofits
  • Strategic Planning and Competitive Analysis
  • Program Development and Assessment
  • Administration
  • Fundraising, Grant Writing, and Finance and Budget
  • Community Organizing & Asset-based Community Development
  • Lobbying and Advocacy

*Subject to change. Official syllabus to be distributed during first class.


Course Structure

In the fall 2020 term, the  course will be offered in an entirely online format. Each week, beginning the week of Monday, August 24, participants will complete asynchronous learning modules. Regular opportunities for synchronous check-in meetings via Zoom will be scheduled by the instructors. Students will complete readings, assignments, and exercises related to each module. 

In the spring 2021 term, each participant will complete a professor-supervised project focusing on a particular strategic need of the participant’s own nonprofit, on some aspect of forming a nonprofit, or on an area of interest related to faith-based nonprofit leadership. The goal is for each participant to come away from the program with a deliverable that will advance the mission and vision of the nonprofit context in which they are working.

Costs and Logistics

The program cost is $2000. Refunds for the course are not available after August 24, 2020. 

After completing all sessions, participants will receive a certificate of completion from Wake Forest University School of Divinity.


For more information, please contact John Senior, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Religious Leadership.

This program is possible thanks to the generous support of the Wake Forest University Provost’s Fund for Academic Innovation and the Jessie Ball DuPont Foundation.