UI to offer philanthropy-centered curriculum


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Students wishing to pursue a career in philanthropy may soon get a head start.

A $100,000 gift to the UI Foundation from UI alumnus Kevin Gruneich will be used to fund a philanthropy-centered curriculum and establish a new certificate program on campus.

Similar programs exist at the graduate level, but David Perlmutter, the director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where the certificate is being offered, said he had never heard of such a curriculum for undergraduates.

The Fundraising and Philanthropy Communication certificate will require 18 to 23 semester hours, including some courses from the journalism school, said visiting Professor Richard Nelson, who helped develop the curriculum.

The proposed certificate could be offered as soon as next fall, contingent on several officials’ approval. Helena Dettmer, an associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the plan to review on Monday.

The certificate is open to all students, but it is grounded in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication for a reason.

“[Those who work in philanthropy] need to have strong communication skills, so we think it is a very good platform,” Perlmutter said.

Flynn Andrizzi, a senior vice president for development at the UI Foundation, said communication is a huge part of the foundation’s business, which primarily includes fundraising for the UI.

Perlmutter said a philanthropy-centered undergraduate education such as this certificate would be “uniquely Iowa.”

With Iowa City’s health care, arts, and literature features, he said, it’s a good place for people interested in working in philanthropy.

Perlmutter said jobs promoting philanthropic organizations are widely available.

Nelson said there are many regional and county organizations, charities, nonprofit groups, and other philanthropic organizations that need people to raise money for them and communicate how they make a difference.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there were 1,569,572 nonprofit organizations nationwide as of October 2009. This included 997,579 public charities, 118,423 private foundations, and 453,570 other types of nonprofit organizations, including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues.

Nelson said there are benefits of working for a philanthropic organization beyond bringing in funding.

“It’s not just raising money to raise money,” he said. “It’s raising money to do good.”

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