Berkeley Haas & Philanthropy University Unveil New, Free Online Courses For Local Leaders in Global South

By Kate Chadwick

Attracting 220k+ learners in its first year, Philanthropy University recently launched a new tech-enabled capacity-building platform to transform global development, titled “The University.” The University’s innovative learning platform accelerates the impact of local civil society organizations by providing world-class free online courses and vibrant online communities, optimized for leaders in the Global South and available worldwide.

With an aim to transform the capacity of 5,000 local organizations and improve the lives of 100 million people by 2020, Philanthropy University and its partners provide local leaders with the knowledge, resources and support they need to deliver sustainable development for all.

The University partnered with the Berkeley Haas School of Business (Berkeley Haas), as well as other leading academics and development professionals, to create seven new free online courses. Throughout our two-year partnership, Berkeley Haas has supported The University with rigorous research and thought leadership on the organization’s strategy and theory of change, curriculum development and framework for assessing the organizational effectiveness of civil society organizations.

To match the exciting new direction of The University, we’ve updated the course certification program through Berkeley Haas. Whereas past learners earned a Certificate in Social Sector Leadership from Berkeley Haas upon the completion of all seven previous courses, future learners are invited to earn a Certificate of Achievement upon completion of several of the newly created individual courses.

Berkeley Haas is proud to provide Certificates of Achievement in partnership with The University for the following six courses:

Essentials of Nonprofit Strategy Learners will develop a plan to achieve organizational goals and make strides towards meaningful impact. (Instructor: Paul Brest, Stanford Law School, Former President of Hewlett Foundation)
Introduction to Fundraising Learners will assess if their organization is ready to fundraise and will build foundational skills to leverage the people and resources in their communities effectively for their organization. (Instructor: Dr. Thomas Wolf, Principal at WolfBrown; Former Founding Director, New England Foundation for the Arts)
Fundraising: Connecting with Donors Learners will hear the secrets of connecting with donors and develop strategies to expand their donor network. (Instructor: Dr. Thomas Wolf)
Fundraising Strategies Learners will develop key fundraising skills including writing successful grant proposals, planning a small-scale fundraising event and launching crowdfunding campaigns. (Instructor: Dr. Thomas Wolf)
Human Capital Strategies Learners will develop a human capital strategy that builds a values-based culture to attract, develop and retain employees for their own organization. (In collaboration with: +Acumen)
Planning for Monitoring and Evaluation Learners will plan for data collection, management, analysis and use. As they complete the course assignments, they will create an M&E plan for their own project. (In collaboration with: FHI 360)

“By activating a multi-stakeholder ecosystem of change, we can finally begin to close the gap between local organizations and the global community,” said Connor Diemand-Yauman, CEO, Philanthropy University. “It is critical for us to have a diverse coalition of founding partners to galvanize capacity-building efforts in developing countries.”

The new learning platform blends expert instruction and engaging content on an easy-to-use interface. Coursework is also supported by vibrant communities of practice where learners and practitioners can connect with peers to share both professional interests and missions. Together with Berkeley Haas, The University enables local practitioners to extend their reach, deepen their impact and strengthen local leadership where it matters most.

Dr. Laura Tyson, Faculty Director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact at Berkeley Haas, recently sat down with us to share her thoughts on this exciting ongoing partnership between Berkeley Haas and Philanthropy University.

Why does Philanthropy University’s goal to transform the capacity of 5,000 local organizations and improve the lives of 100 million people by 2020 matter so much?

The mission of Philanthropy University is to transform the capacity of local civil society organizations everywhere, which are on the front lines of moving the needle on human progress. Local civil society organizations working in the Global South arguably focus on the hardest social and economic challenges in the world, and are often forced to do their work without the necessary financial and human resources.

Today, these challenges are not being addressed adequately through government, multilateral organizations or private sector businesses, all of which have important roles to play. Civil society organizations also play vital roles filling the gaps to develop sustainable local solutions to these huge challenges. Public and private sector organizations cannot solve these challenges on their own, but usually work in in partnership with local organizations. It is these local civil society organizations, working on the ground with the populations living the challenges that can actually deliver on the solutions.

Local civil society organizations are often the best equipped to understand the needs of the local populations they serve and to develop appropriate remedies. Such organizations, however, often lack the financial resources and capabilities necessary to analyze challenges, develop solutions that work and implement them. Improving the effectiveness of such organizations requires building the skills and nurturing the leadership of the people working in them. Philanthropy University provides a free online platform of courses to achieve these goals.

Why did Berkeley Haas choose to partner with Philanthropy University back in 2015?

Berkeley is a public university with a global perspective, a global diverse student body and a progressive outlook. Berkeley Haas, the business school of UC Berkeley, embodies these traditions and has been a pioneer in preparing leaders of civil society organizations all over the world for decades. We are proud to play a partnership role as Philanthropy University blazes new paths to empower the coming generation of change-makers. There is strong alignment in the common mission of our organizations to empower local civil society organizations and their dedicated staff to reduce poverty through innovative solutions to pressing social, economic and environmental challenges.

What’s your vision about how innovative learning platforms such as Philanthropy University can help in the fight against global poverty?

Philanthropy University’s sophisticated digital technologies to deliver knowledge and build community democratize access to learning opportunities that used to be available only to people who could travel to a university. Now these opportunities are available to millions of people where they live and work and in the communities they serve.

Philanthropy University’s innovation of including technical assistance and well-crafted communities of practice with powerful educational tools represents an unprecedented advance for the social sector. As technology continues to change, Philanthropy University is committed to remain at the forefront of the education technology space and to deliver the best possible educational opportunities to the widest population.

What does the partnership between a traditional institution of higher learning, such as Berkeley Haas, and this breakthrough organization say about how we need to prepare leaders — not just leadership in academy but engagement of people on front lines — to change the world?

Berkeley Haas has chosen to partner with The University to co-design courses to build the capacities of local civil society organizations in the global south, while Philanthropy University has developed the delivery mechanism necessary to reach populations that Berkeley Haas otherwise would be unable to reach.

We believe that the most effective solutions to the social and economic problems of those living in poverty in the global south have to be developed on-site with the people who are directly experiencing these problems and are developing local solutions to address them. For many of these people, Philanthropy University is offering a unique solution to capacity building and organizational effectiveness. The courses approved by Berkeley Haas and the associated certificates of achievement are important components of that solution.

In addition to the courses, the communities of practice that The University developed are essential to creating a robust learning experience for participants. When individuals go to universities, they gain not only access to content knowledge and training, but also access to a network of peers and mentors. For civil society organizations to deliver solutions, they not only have to be close to the populations they serve, they also have to support each other in developing solutions. The University’s communities of practice allow these organizations an opportunity to share resources and scale their solutions.

Learn how to join the Philanthropy University capacity building coalition as a partner, or enroll as a learner, at