Core Programs

Strong Management Translates into Stronger Mission Performance

Our programs are designed to increase the management capacity of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit capacity building refers to activities that improve and enhance an organization’s ability to achieve its mission and achieve long-term sustainability. One of the many benefits of membership with NICNE is a discount on our capacity-building programs. By taking advantage of these discounts, your membership may pay for itself!

Check out our upcoming events for an up-to-date list of current programs. Email Associate Director Billie Callahan with questions at


Leading a highly successful mission-driven nonprofit requires more than goals and plans; it requires concrete knowledge and abilities. NICNE's five-course Certificate in Nonprofit Management program will teach you the skills needed to strengthen your organization and better achieve your mission.

Those who enroll in the certificate program are active practitioners and aspiring leaders in our region's vibrant nonprofit community. This program is designed for new nonprofit professional, those who desire a career in nonprofit management, board members seeking to serve in a more strategic advisory role, or advanced professionals seeking to refresh skills and build their professional networks. Each course is led by an accomplished expert in their field. Instructors and guest speakers include nonprofit executives, doctorate-level leaders committed to collaboration as a tool to drive social change, instructors with advanced certifications and decades of experience in nonprofit leadership, and subject matter experts who lead businesses and organizations across the region. Courses are offered in the spring and fall each year and are posted on our Eventbrite page as registration opens.

Human Resources Management

Gain a strategic view of human resources management and the HR function within the nonprofit sector. Offered March 2023

Strategic leadership is necessary to foster an environment for positive employee relations. Explore the employee and volunteer recruitment process, understand the broad umbrella of talent development, performance management, employee relations, and policy management, and discuss current trends and impacts on human resources. Review current laws and legal compliance factors that guide HR actions and learn how to implement best practices for staff and volunteers.

Financial Management

Build your confidence as a leader by building familiarity with nonprofit accounting procedures. Offered April 2023

Financial acumen is essential for your work and the health and sustainability of your organization. This course simplifies the nonprofit accounting process while teaching fundamental financial and budgeting terms and concepts and key elements of financial statements. You will leave with a stronger understanding of the accounting cycle, financial risk, budgeting process, significance of Form 990, financial management decision-making, financial controls processes, and independent audit process. These are vital skills that any nonprofit leader will need to lead with confidence.

Leadership, Management and Governance

Learn how to lead with compassion and manage for results. Offered May 2023

Non-profit organizations that are led with a service heart and a business mind are most likely to thrive and have the greatest impact. This course will provide you with a path to becoming an authentic, purpose-driven leader and for developing a high-performing team. You will also learn how to understand the evolving needs of the sector, the critical role of ethics in leadership, and the key tenets of effective governance. We'll explore a variety of leadership and governance topics including qualities of high-performance boards, impact measurement, strategic thinking, collaboration and partnerships, innovation, advocacy and more.

Marketing and Communications

Gain essential skills, tools, and techniques to develop a strategic marketing plan to enhance your organization's bottom line and mission impact. Offered September 2023

Focus your promotional efforts to ensure your organization stands out in a cluttered marketplace. Explore the role of strong branding and strategic marketing and communications to engage employees, donors, and key stakeholders. Engage in activities to identify your target audiences, engage in SWOT analysis from a marketing and communications perspective and begin to develop a marketing and communications plan for your organization.

Fund Development

Develop the skills you need to succeed in raising funds to sustain and enhance the mission of your organization. Offered October 2023

Building relationships with donors, identifying and cultivating prospects, and donor stewardship are some of the most important things a nonprofit leader can do to ensure sustainability. This course provides a comprehensive overview of core elements of fund development planning, fund diversification, and the stages through which a donor moves as their financial commitment increases. You will discover best practices to leverage your resources, set goals and assess and improve your current fund development practices.

"Every week the class had something new for me to take away! I've improved my knowledge, kept up to date with changes, and built connections with peers."by CNM participant

We provide training sessions customized to the needs of your board of directors. Our training is offered online, on-site or at the NIU Rockford campus. It's perfect for your next board retreat, or if you're facing a situation such as welcoming new members, preparing for fundraising or engaging in strategic action planning.

Our two-hour basic training session is available for $500. It includes:

  • Basic board roles and responsibilities
  • Legal duties
  • Governing documents
  • Leadership expectations
  • Fiduciary responsibilities
  • Board/staff relationship expectations

Our four-hour advanced training session is available for $850. It includes all the basic training topics, as well as customized topics such as:

  • Fundraising
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Governance models
  • Best practices and principles
  • Board advocacy
  • Parliamentary procedure
  • Traits of an exceptional board
  • Common questions

Join us for discussion and an open exchange of information and best practices related to volunteerism. All are welcome to join this free, self-facilitated group on the first Wednesday of every month from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in EIGERlab in the NIU – Rockford building (8500 E. State Street). Sign up for our email updates and select “Exchange on Volunteerism” as an interest area to get updates about this group, and visit our Events page to see what topics are coming up!

The Rockford Area Case Management Initiative (RACM) provides a community-wide approach to deliver individualized, strength-based, and person-centered support services that helps participants achieve specific, self-defined outcomes leading to self-sufficiency. Large-group foundational training, topical training modules, and a Case Management Community of Practice are the key components of this initiative. Learn more at the RACM webpage.

Withdrawal and Cancellation for Courses and Programs

Withdrawal and Cancellation Policy

A full refund less a 1% cancellation fee will be granted to a registrant who notifies us about his or her cancellation at least five business days prior to the start of the course/program. After this date, no refund will be given unless the Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence cancels the course/program. Registrants may apply the tuition to another course/program offered by the Center, if contact is made at least five days prior to the start of the course/program. Failure to attend a course/program does not entitle a registrant to a refund. Cancellations must be confirmed in writing by registrants.

Weather-related Class Cancellation

All courses/programs will be held during inclement weather unless Rockford University closes its campus. If the Center cancels a program due to weather, the program will be made up during the same semester or an opportunity will be offered for registrants to make up a program the next time it is offered by the Center. Failure to attend due to inclement weather does not entitle a registrant to a refund or make-up session.

Contact Us

Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence
8500 East State St
Rockford, IL 61108

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