NACC Membership

Nonprofit organizations and voluntary action are critical to the development and strengthening of democracy and civil society throughout the world. Universities are central institutions for understanding and promoting the structures essential for democratic life. University-based programs that perform research, teaching and public service to strengthen nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations, philanthropy, and voluntary action are critical to helping universities and their communities meet this need.

The NACC Membership Model

NACC offers two main categories of membership:

  • General Membership: programs with an academic affiliation that can demonstrate a focus on at least two of the three programmatic areas outlined below (education, research and community).
  • Affiliate Membership: for organizations, entities, etc. that have an interest in affiliation with NACC that do not meet our criteria for full membership as part of accredited colleges or universities.

General Membership

  • To qualify for general membership, programs must meet minimum standards as defined by NACC.
  • New programs will be encouraged to apply by one of two annual deadlines, and applications will be reviewed twice a year.
  • The focus of membership will remain on programs with an academic affiliation that can demonstrate a focus on at least two of the three programmatic areas outlined below (education, research and community).

General Membership Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for general membership, the applicant must:

  1. Operate within an accredited college or university. If the program or center is located internationally, accreditation will be appropriate to the home institution.
  2. Have a primary focus on nonprofit, non-governmental sector management, or philanthropic studies (or related areas such as civil society, social economy, and social innovation).
  3. Provide evidence of ongoing activity in at least two of the three programmatic areas – education, research, and community engagement – as defined below.
  4. Demonstrate a substantial allocation of resources and programming to the programmatic area(s), including:
  • A designated faculty or staff position which has primary responsibility to direct programmatic activities. We recognize the title and exact scope and type of responsibilities may vary, and some responsibility can be shared among other faculty, staff, or students.
  • Accountability to and association with the academic division of the school, college, or university (which can include continuing or professional education), rather than some other area, such as student affairs.
  • Staff support for its activities. No minimum level of staffing is required.

General Membership Criteria & Process

Three programmatic areas form the foundation for the work of general NACC members – education, research, and community engagement:

  • Education: A systematic program of academic credit studies is a requirement of the education criterion. The program need not take the form of a full degree, but it should be of an academic credit-bearing nature, including concentrations or specializations within full degrees, or academic credit (as opposed to noncredit) certificate programs. If a center or program does not offer credit programs itself, its leadership or staff shall participate in teaching these offerings by other academic units affiliated with the center. Other forms of noncredit education, including professional seminars, workshops and continuing education noncredit certificates, can be important dimensions of a center’s educational programming and offer diverse learning opportunities, but a core of academic, credit-bearing offerings is essential.
  • Research: Some ongoing creation of publications by persons directly affiliated with the program is a requirement for the research criterion. We recognize that research in the field of nonprofit, nongovernmental, and philanthropic studies can take a wide variety of forms including: scholarship that yields books, articles, and papers in academic outlets; applied research of immediate application to practitioners in the field whether done under contract and/or disseminated in professional practice publications; knowledge-building that yields curriculum and instructional materials and publications; or different products from the “scholarship of engagement.” It also consists of disseminating the knowledge created through conferences, symposia, and seminars. All of these research and dissemination activities are valid and encouraged. However, among these activities we consider some on-going activity yielding scholarly and/or professional publications to be essential.
  • Community Engagement: The community engagement or service criterion is understood as academically-based activities that go beyond conventional faculty service assignments. This includes an ongoing and intentional program of engagement that attempts to provide direct impact in its nonprofit community to nonprofit organizations and the community at large. These should be substantial and a formal part of the program or center’s programming, and may include providing consulting, technical advice or assistance to nonprofit organizations, convenings or workshops, or participating in nonprofit public policy and advocacy activities, to name just a few examples.

Sustaining General Membership

In addition to general membership, NACC offers sustaining membership for our members that voluntarily make an additional investment in NACC to help ensure the vibrancy of this community of nonprofit academic centers serving for the public good.


Affiliate Membership

NACC offers Affiliate Membership to organizations and individuals who are not degree-conferring colleges or universities but who have a related interest in education, training, research or service to nonprofit, nongovernmental philanthropic organizations. This can include government agencies, foundations and other nonprofits, private firms, and individual consultants and trainers that provide non-credit bearing education, or support.

To be eligible for NACC Affiliate Membership, the applicant must:

  1. Support the mission of NACC as an association of academic degree programs at accredited colleges and universities.
  2. Demonstrate that a substantive part of their work contributes to developing any of the knowledge and skills covered by the NACC Curricular Guidelines.

Affiliate Membership is available at two levels: Partner and Sponsor.

Partner Affiliates benefits include:

  • Direct access to a network of top leaders from among the most prestigious and innovative programs, centers, and institutions focused on a shared commitment to philanthropic and nonprofit sector studies, research, and service.
  • The opportunity to have a voice in shaping nonprofit academic center resources (such as curricular guidelines and indicators of quality).
  • Meetings, forums, and conferences that blend hands-on field-building work and peer information exchange.
  • Visibility of each member center within the field and with the larger public.
  • Legitimacy with host academic institutions and local communities through association with a respected international organization.
  • Free advertising for job posting on the NACC website and in the NACC news.
  • Discounted registration fees for NACC conferences.

Sponsor Affiliates receive all the above benefits, along with additional benefits including:

  • Special designation on our website as a sponsor affiliate member
  • Recognition at all NACC meetings, conferences and other events thanking our sponsor affiliate members for their continued support. This includes on printed programs, schedules, presentations, etc.


Membership Fees

  • General Membership | $1,000 USD annually
  • General Sustaining Membership | $2,500 USD annually
  • Partner Affiliate Membership | $1,000 USD annually
  • Sponsor Affiliate Membership | $2,500 USD annually

Relationship to Accreditation

  • Membership and accreditation are distinct entities and processes. Membership in NACC does not equal accreditation in NACC.
  • NACC membership is required before a program can apply for accreditation.

You can learn more about the NACC Accreditation Process here.