NACC is a membership association comprised of academic centers and/or programs at accredited colleges and universities that are devoted to the study of the nonprofit/nongovernmental sector, philanthropy and voluntary action to advance education, research, and practice that increase the nonprofit sector’s ability to enhance civic engagement, democracy, and human welfare. Given its mission, it is appropriate that NACC’s leaders have continued to advance comprehensive curricular guidelines to assist its members and build the field.
NACC’s leadership in developing and disseminating curricular guidelines began in 2001, made possible thanks to the generous financial support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. As a result of extensive discussions from a variety of scholars and practitioners, led by a NACC appointed task force, the first-ever graduate guidelines were released in 2003. The initial graduate guidelines were immediately well received and prompted a call for NACC to continue evolving such guidelines to include not only subsequent revisions of the graduate document, but also for the development of undergraduate guidelines. Again, a task force was appointed and, in 2007, the second edition of the graduate guidelines and the first edition of undergraduate guidelines were released. As before, the documents were well received and their release coincided with the continued explosive growth of nonprofit education programs around the United States and across the world.
In evaluating NACC’s dual mission of serving its members and advancing the field(s) it was clear to the organization’s leadership in 2013–2104, that the value of the curricular guidelines is indisputable; the need to update the documents, and revise them is essential as the fields of study continue to evolve. To that end, NACC’s board authorized a “Curriculum Revision Project” and Robert Ashcraft of Arizona State University, was recruited to chair the effort. Unlike prior methods used for developing and revising the guidelines, involving a defined task force assembled for such purposes, this most recent effort utilized a crowd-source process. Guided by the NACC Board of Directors, widespread input was sought from informed academics and practitioners through a web-platform and survey, launched in August 2014. In edition, input was solicited through special NACC sessions established at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA, arnova.org) and the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR, istr.org) conferences held during the 2013 and 2014 years, respectively. Following a vetting and review process, NACC’s board adopted the revised guidelines at its board meeting in June 2015.
Since its beginning in 1991, NACC remains steadfast in its support of centers and programs that provide education and research about, and academically based services for, the nonprofit/nongovernmental sector and philanthropy. NACC’s desire is for these curricular guidelines to be actively used as academic programs continue to evolve.