Nonprofit Peer Learning Program Dane County

The pilot program ran from Sept-Dec., 2021. We will be offering the program again in 2022. Please e-mail if you are interested in participating, or if you would like to learn more about the 2022 program.

Description: The nonprofit peer learning program is a training and networking program that prioritizes group discussion and learning.  We will cover content that is important to nonprofit leaders, while centering the formation of a peer network for ongoing support, mentorship, resource sharing and collaboration.

The 2022 program will be offered as as several mini-series of 4 weeks each.
Topic 1: Leadership, organizational culture, and purpose
Topic 2: Creating a fundraising plan and fund-development calendar
Topic 3: Telling your story & developing a marketing plan
Topic 4: Working with your Board of Directors
Topic 5: Legal issues for nonprofit organizations

Priority Audience:  Leaders of nonprofit organizations. We are seeking to include a majority of organizations who are specifically committed to working for social, racial, environmental and/or economic justice.

Criteria for participation (note that these criteria are identified so that potential participants can determine if the program is right for them):

  • Your organization is either a 501c-3 or a fiscally sponsored organization (e.g., beyond pre-formation stage)
  • Your organization has some funding base, whether through grants, donations, program revenue, or corporate sponsorships
  • Your organization has developed either a mission statement, a purpose statement, or a theory of change
  •  You are a leader in your organization (this program is not limited to Executive Directors, but is not geared toward front-line staff)

Expectations of participation: this program is structured for peer learning and engagement. While we will cover specific content of importance to non-profit leaders, the learning that happens is primarily due to participants learning and sharing with one another. To this end, we ask that all participants commit to:

  • Attend all or most of the peer cohort sessions 
  • Be an active participant, both in learning and teaching
  • Do the pre-work for each session (offered via the UW-Madison course management platform Canvas)

Why – and how – are we centering peer learning?  We’ve heard from nonprofit leaders that the best way to learn about running a nonprofit organization is through one’s peers – people who are encountering similar challenges, who have creatively overcome barriers, and who are knowledgeable about the resource environment.  We hope that a peer learning environment will accomplish three objectives: 

  1. Provide support to one another: peers can provide encouragement, suggestions, and offers of mutual aid.
  2. Share technical know-how: peers can lean on one another for information regarding how to build more effective organizations, and share intel about resources.
  3. Collaborate for community change: when it comes down to it, people get involved in the nonprofit world because they care about working toward positive, equitable, sustainable community change. The peer learning network will hopefully launch partnerships and collaborations, and long term relationships that lead to support for each others’ change initiatives.

Collaborating Presenters: Local nonprofit leaders will be featured in video presentations and as session leaders.

For more information: please contact Sharon Lezberg, Community Development Educator, UW-Madison Extension Dane County.; 608-224-3719.