The term 'non-governmental organization' (NGO) is another way of designating a nonprofit organization. A nonprofit that operates in the international arena is typically called an NGO to indicate its independence from the government of the nonprofit's home country. Academic coursework for nonprofit professionals can take an international perspective to support work done under the traditional definition of an NGO or a domestic or community-based perspective to encompass any type of nonprofit work. In either instance, the different types of NGO courses typically include academic or training tracks in oversight, management or program delivery.
Many academic institutions around the world offer degrees for people who work or intend to work for an NGO. These degrees fall into the categories of management or program delivery. The different types of NGO courses that fall under management are usually aligned with a typical business curriculum at the bachelor's or master's levels. Nonprofits are corporations, and the types of academic skills that NGO executives need are the same as those needed by for-profit corporate executives. Course offerings ordinarily include classes in strategic management, marketing, human resources development and accounting, for example.
Program delivery courses can run the gamut of a variety of subjects that enable nonprofits to deliver services to their constituencies. NGO courses in a degree-granting environment can include classes in social work, international relations, economic development and even engineering. Some institutions have nonprofit-specific degrees for both management and program delivery professionals. These degrees are offered under labels such as nonprofit management, community economic development, urban planning and public affairs.
Outside of a degree-granting institution, there are a wealth of NGO courses available to hone the skills of nonprofit workers. These courses are offered by trade associations, proprietary schools or through the continuing education departments of colleges and universities. Often, these providers will award certificates or certifications in the studied topic. Examples of NGO courses that are typically available in this way are classes in fund raising and development, advocacy skills, legal issues and tax concerns.
In some instances, NGO courses can be differentiated by the type of work the nonprofit does. Nonprofits are typically categorized as one of a number of program types. For example, they can be social services, economic development, technical assistance or advocacy organizations. Courses for nonprofits that deal directly with people tend to focus on effective service delivery topics, such as proper youth development or family counseling. Other types of NGOs that provide technical assistance or carry out economic development projects will often have project or skills-specific coursework that focuses on how to facilitate the completion of a task.