The LINE program is a 10-month journey designed to assist nonprofit leaders and those aspiring to leadership roles in the nonprofit sector to build their current skillsets and become effective and successful leaders of nonprofit organizations. The LINE program combines the academic rigor of Rice University and the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies' dedication to philanthropic success to offer you the catalyst you need to propel your organization to the next level or give you the confidence to pursue your nonprofit career aspirations. The certificate includes nine content modules, two electives, two leadership coaching sessions and a practicum.

Certificate Details

Participants must complete four components to earn the LINE certificate: nine content modules, two electives, two leadership coaching sessions and a practicum. The LINE certificate includes nine content modules to address a variety of the latest management, legal, financial, marketing and leadership best practices in the nonprofit sector. Designed for executives, future leaders and career-changers alike, each content module offers an in-depth study of the current landscape of the nonprofit sector within the context of proven organizational best practices. Participants emerge with extensive knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of running a successful nonprofit organization and governing an effective nonprofit board. You must complete all nine content modules list below. Other relevant topics will be included as deemed necessary by the instructor.

1. Effective Nonprofit Leadership

Learn about successful leadership in the nonprofit sector and develop goals to improve your own leadership practices.

This workshop addresses, in interactive exercises and discussions, these key leadership practices for nonprofit leaders:

  • Leadership integrity
  • Visionary leadership
  • Leader’s passion for the cause
  • Relating to the stakeholders
  • Empowering the followers
  • Community collaboration
  • Practicing self-awareness

(The first two practices are examined in the August class session. The remaining leadership practices are examined in the January class session.)

2. Successful Nonprofit Organizations and Board Governance

Learn to recruit, retain and effectively manage the board, staff and volunteers of a nonprofit organization.

Topics include the following:

  • Elements of high performing nonprofit organization
  • Board governance: recruiting, orienting, inspiring and retaining a diverse board and committees with the skills, network and expertise
  • Defining board expectations and providing clear board and committee job descriptions
  • Planning and conducting board and committee meetings
  • The development and implementation of a strategic plan relevant to the mission and goals of the organization
  • Assigning appropriate roles for achievement high performance of the board members, executive director and staff

3. Marketing and Public Relations

In this module, learn the value, function and components of a marketing and communications plans.

  • Formulation and role of organizational, as well as audience and/or program-specific messaging
  • Relevance and strategies for multiple channels of communication, including:
    • Media relations
    • Advertising
    • Electronic media
    • Social Media
    • Print
    • Special Events
  • Multiple facets of branding, including visual identification and the experience factor of communications
  • Advantage of a collaborative communications, marketing and development team that works toward common goals

4. Development Planning and Donor Engagement

Learn how to create and implement a fundraising strategy, manage a development team and build relationships with your donor community.

Topics include the following:

  • Planning and implementing the fundraising plan
  • Managing the development team
  • Roles within the donor cycle, identification, discovery, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of major gift donors

5. Financial Management

Understand the fiscal responsibilities of the board and staff and how to develop and maintain sound financial practices.

Topics include the following:

  • Preparing the annual budget and long-range planning
  • Day-to-day financial administration
  • Creating appropriate reports
  • Preparing annual financial statements
  • Ensuring that all legal obligations are met
  • Portfolio management
  • Tax planning
  • Preparing for an audit
  • Selecting accounting software
  • Factors to consider in selecting a CPA

6. Organizational Effectiveness

Learn to evaluate the organization’s effectiveness, implement steps to ahcieve its goals and improve the organization's performance.

Topics include the following:

  • Using technology to achieve organizational goals
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the organization
  • Establishing a roadmap to achieve the organization’s goals for social change
  • Enabling organizational performance improvement
  • Developing organizational and program outcomes
  • Recognizing the need for an external evaluator and steps for selecting an evaluator
  • Considerations in collaborating or building alliances with other groups to reach common goals

7. Essentials of Talent Management

Learn how to develop and maintain a work environment conducive to attracting and retaining top quality staff and volunteers.

Topics include the following:

  • Creating a work environment that attracts, retains and motivates top quality staff
  • Recruiting and selecting an effective, stable team
  • Delegating to and motivating staff and volunteers
  • Developing job descriptions, evaluating performance and establishing goals
  • Orienting and training employees
  • Basics of compensation, benefits and rewards
  • Employment law
  • Establishing appropriate policies and procedures
  • Conflict resolution
  • Succession planning

8. Current Legal and Ethical Considerations in Nonprofit Management

Learn the complex organizational legal, tax and risk management while discussing the ethical considerations inherent in managing a Texas nonprofit organizations.

Topics include the following:

  • Critical differences between for-profit and nonprofit corporations
  • Process for forming a nonprofit corporation and seeking relevant tax exemptions
  • Preparing a certificate of formation and bylaws
  • Corporate governance concerns
  • Maintaining tax exempt status
  • Participating in the political arena
  • Compliance with federal, state and local regulations
  • Risk management
  • Contracts
  • Document management
  • Fundamental business transactions
  • Ethical standards

9. Lessons in Leadership

This module features current and former nonprofit leaders at the board ad staff level discussing challenges they face and how the concepts covered in the LINE program are applicable to their respective roles. Class participants have the opportunity to ask questions and gain insight from expert panelists at different stages of their nonprofit careers.

Orientation Session

For participants transitioning into the nonprofit industry, orientation is mandatory. For all other participants, the orientation requirement is determined during the interview process; however, everyone is welcome to attend.

The purposes for the orientation:

  • Introduce students to the nonprofit sector
  • Provide a deeper understanding of the differences between for-profit and nonprofit business

The orientation session examines how these elements differ between the for-profit and nonprofit organizations:

  • Ownership and governance
  • Organizational effectiveness and measures
  • Financial
  • Talent management and compensation
  • Public relations and marketing
  • Legal and ethical practice

You must take two electives from the courses listed below to meet the requirement for the program. These courses are generally offered in an online or classroom based format, once or twice a year through the Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership.

Note: With approval from the program’s director, past participation in any of the listed electives within one year of entering the program may fulfill one or both of the elective requirements. One of the electives must be an advanced fundraising course. Please contact if you want to know which courses apply to the advanced fundraising course requirement.


Participants will take the content learned from the sessions and apply it in a practical way to complete a strategic project in a nonprofit organization.

This element of the program requires participants to complete a comprehensive strategic-level project for an existing nonprofit organization. The project may be completed for the participant’s organization or in a consulting capacity for another nonprofit organization. If you are not currently connected with a nonprofit, Rice will help you secure an appropriate project. The practicum will culminate with a written paper and oral presentation to the organization. Participants will have approximately three months to complete the project. More information will be given to those accepted into the program.


All participants self-schedule two hours of coaching during the program. The leadership instructor assists you with your career goals and navigating leadership challenges.

*Instructors subject to change

  • Current executive directors and senior leaders of nonprofit organizations
  • Nonprofit professionals who aspire to become executive directors or senior leaders
  • Professionals seeking a career change into the nonprofit sector

To begin the application process, you must submit the following completed forms:

  • LINE application
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Official college transcript (electronic or paper format accepted but must be sent directly from the college/university)
  • Personal Statement
  • Two professional letters of recommendation

Once all required documents have been received, completed files will be reviewed after the application deadline. Decisions regarding acceptance into the program will be made by an admissions committee and applicants will receive an official decision through email communication within two weeks of their personal interview.

Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a space-available basis.

Spring 2020 Early Application Deadline: November 15, 2019

Spring 2020 General Application Deadline: December 13, 2019

Total program pricing: $4,895 (including books but excluding electives)

Elective pricing: $185 - $400 per course, and fees must be paid at time of registration. Discounts for elective courses are available for AASP, Apra and AFP members.

Scholarship Options

Partial scholarships may be available to individuals currently employed by a nonprofit organization located in the greater Houston area.

Please complete the appropriate section of the LINE application if you would like to be considered for program fees assistance. Scholarship decisions will be made by the admittance committee and awarded recipients will be notified at the same time of their admissions decision.

Alternative Payment Options

Payment plan options are available by request for those who do not qualify for the scholarship option and need additional assistance. Payment plans may also be requested to pay the remaining balance of the program fees after scholarship funds have been awarded. Payment plans will not be granted after the start of the program. Contact the program coordinator for the required forms needed to request this option.

Refund Policy

A 10 percent processing fee will be subtracted from all refunds. Due to the high demand for courses, registrations are considered final as of the dates listed by program area. No refunds will be issued after these dates and credits will not be given for future classes. No refunds will be granted for participants who miss a portion of a program. Refund requests before the deadline must be made in writing to Refunds for credit card payments will be processed as credits to the accounts from which they were paid and may not appear as a credit until the following statement. Refunds for enrollments paid by check take up to four weeks to be processed and mailed by the Rice University accounting office. There is a $30 charge for any check returned for insufficient funds.

The Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership issues refunds up to 10 working days before class starts. If books have been issued, the cost of the books and any shipping fees will be deducted.

Join us for a free, online or in-person information session:

  • Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 10-10:30 a.m. Central Standard Time, online
  • Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 1-1:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, online




Additional Details