Special Themed Issue: The Future of Nonprofit Education


The Future of Nonprofit Education

Journal of Public Affairs Education & Journal of Nonprofit Education & Leadership

Joint Special Issue - Call for Papers

Co-Edited By:

Heather Carpenter                                                                          Sara Rinfret

Roseanne Mirabella                                                                        Sarah Young

The last decade bore witness to a swelling undercurrent of unrest in communities that impacts the future of the nonprofit sector. The Black Lives Matter movement, polarized partisanship-induced stalwarts of social service systems, climate change-induced community crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic, among other major historical events, marked a period of punctuated change in nonprofit history (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993). Already, the nonprofit sector has seen unparalleled demand and a simultaneously triggered, potentially disastrous brain drain of its workforce  (United Way of Illinois, 2017; Young et al., forthcoming). Well-trained, thoughtfully educated nonprofit practitioners are in greater demand than ever before. The need for practitioners will likely continue to increase as the domino impact from this period of change is realized (Young et al., forthcoming).

Over the last forty years, nonprofit education programs have grown dramatically (Mirabella, 2007; Mirabella et al., 2019), helping to professionalize and legitimize the sector’s workforce (Wiley, 2020). Nonprofit education programs adopted an increasingly interdisciplinary perspective (O’Neill, 2007), while simultaneously defining themselves as part of a unique field (Mirabella et al., 2019). Today, the field of nonprofit education is rich and diverse, despite the fact it is still comparatively young (Mirabella, 2022). However, tomorrow’s nonprofit education programs will likely need to look markedly different due to the events of the last decade and the major catalysts for tomorrow’s economies.

In the future, practitioners will need distinctively different knowledge, skills, and abilities due to evolutions in artificial intelligence, service-delivery models, and funding innovations, among others (Svensson, 2019). Nonprofit practitioners will need to be skilled network managers; capable coordinators of coproduction delivery systems that improve representation and efficiency (Lim & Young, 2023). They will need the ability to use social media in new, savvy ways to increase stakeholder engagement (Wiley, et al., 2023). Future practitioners will need knowledge of how to use artificial intelligence systems to analyze donor behaviors (Alsolbi et al., 2022), reduce donor attrition (Singh et al., 2022), and even scan their external environments for potential opportunities and threats (LePere- Schloop, 2022). These are just a few examples of the imminent workforce changes that nonprofit practitioners must prepare for.

These novel knowledge, skills, and abilities serve as an impetus for the field of nonprofit education to evolve. Our field is about to be challenged like never before. Considering the vital role our students will play in the future of the nonprofit sector, what and how we train our students for tomorrow are two very important questions for the field to consider today. This joint call for papers - the first between the Journal of Public Affairs Education and Journal of Nonprofit Education & Leadership - demonstrates the importance of this issue. We come together to facilitate contemplation and conversation regarding the future directions for nonprofit education. These special issues aim to explore how nonprofit, nongovernmental, and philanthropic pedagogy may evolve and change as the world around us changes.  We invite you to submit original manuscripts on the future of nonprofit education, including but not limited to:

  • Knowledge and skills needed to successfully administer, fundraise and advocate for constituents of minority serving organizations;
  • Development of new pedagogical approaches addressing strategies for serving communities and bringing together stakeholders within a climate of polarization;
  • Ways in which nonprofit administration and philanthropic education can harness the theories and ideas emanating from emergency management programs to better prepare leaders for managing during climate and other crises;
  • Exploring ways in which interdisciplinary approaches might be employed to breakdown traditional disciplinary boundaries to create curriculum for the future;
  • Proposing pedagogical innovations to prepare future nonprofit leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary for tackling thorny issues raised by artificial intelligence;
  • Exploring ways in which particular curricular topics — such as fundraising, advocacy, or human resource management — should adapt to the artificial intelligence environment to improve practice;
  • Critical perspectives on nonprofit, nongovernmental, and philanthropic education challenging the neoliberal turn of the university towards the market.

Logistics and Timeline

Interested scholars are requested to submit abstracts of 200 words or less no later than January 9, 2024. Theoretical, conceptual, and empirical research are welcomed.

Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by January 22, 2024 if they are invited to submit full manuscripts, which will be due by July 1, 2024. Publication in either JPAE or JNEL will be in 2025. Publication medium will be based on best journal fit. Please note that acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee final publication.

To submit a proposed abstract, email it by January 9, 2024 to Roseanne Mirabella at Roseanne.Mirabella@shu.edu.


Alsolbi, I., Agarwarl, R., Narayan, B., Bharathy, G., Samarawickrama, M., Tafavogh, S., & Prasad, M. (2022). Analyzing Donors Behaviors in Nonprofit Organizations: A Design Science Research Framework. In Pattern Recognition and Data Analysis with Applications (pp. 765-775). Singapore: Springer Nature Singapore.

Baumgartner, F., & Jones, B.D. (1993). Agendas and Instability in American Politics. University of Chicago Press.

LePere-Schloop, M. (2022). Nonprofit role classification using mission descriptions and
supervised machine learning. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 51(5),

Lim, S. & Young, S. (2023). Why the network coordinator matters: The importance of learning, innovation, and governance structures in coproduction networks. Journal of Civil Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/17448689.2023.2206157 

Mirabella, R. M. (2007). University-Based Educational Programs in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropic Studies: A 10-Year Review and Projections of Future Trends. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly36(4_suppl), 11S-27S. https://doi.org/10.1177/089976400

Mirabella, R., Hoffman, T., Teo, T. K., & McDonald, M. (2019). The Evolution of Nonprofit Management and Philanthropic Studies in the United States: Are We Now a Disciplinary Field? The Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, 9(1)https://doi.org/10.18666/JNEL-2019-V9-I1-9598

Mirabella, R. (2022). Two perspectives on nonprofit management education: Public administration and social work. Journal of Nonprofit Education & Leadership, 13(4), 7. https://doi.org/10.18666?JNEL-12208.

O'Neill, M. (2007). The future of nonprofit management education. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly36(4_suppl), 169S-176S.

Singh, R., Sonewar, P., Kumar, M., Shingare, A., Deshpande, A., Satyam, K., ... & Colorafi, K. J. (2022, December). Empowering Nonprofit Organizations to Reduce Donation Attrition with Machine Learning. In 2022 IEEE Pune Section International Conference (PuneCon) (pp. 1-4). IEEE.

Svensson, P. G., Mahoney, T. Q., & Hambrick, M. E. (2020). What does innovation mean to nonprofit practitioners? International insights from development and peace-building nonprofits. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly49(2), 380-398.

United Way of Illinois. (2017). United Way of Illinois Post-Stop Gap Funding Survey: High-level findings. https://www.wayhelps.org/sites/uwayhelps.org/files/United%20Way%20Illinois%20Budget%20Survey.pdf

Weber, P., & Brunt, C. (2022). Building nonprofit management education in the US: The role of centers in supporting new academic disciplines. Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs, 8(1), 96–121. https://doi.org/10.20899/jpna.8.1.96–121

Wiley, K. (2020). Implementing Domestic Violence Policy: When Accountability Trumps Mission. Affilia, 35(4), 533–551.

Wiley, K.,  Schwoerer, K.,  Richardson, M., &  Espinosa, M. B. (2023).  Engaging stakeholders on TikTok: A multi-level social media analysis of nonprofit Microvlogging. Public Administration,  101(3),  822–842. https://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12851

Young, S., Wiley, K., & Searing, E. (Accepted). Nonprofit human resources: Crisis impacts and mitigation strategies. Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Quarterly.