Philanthropy University: Magnet for Aspiring Leaders Worldwide

Philanthropy University

By Laura D. Tyson

Philanthropy University, the global online training program for social sector leaders that is anchored at Berkeley-Haas, has achieved even more in its first six months than most of us dared hope. The statistics from the first set of courses are worth mentioning:

• Original course offerings – 7
• Total enrollments – 412,844
• Unique users – nearly 200,000
• Nations represented – 193

Beyond the topline numbers, new data shows a remarkable geographic range and an untapped demand for professional training in leadership skills, organizational management, financing and scaling up of organizations committed to social impact.

Of the 18,000 enrollees who provided geographic data, 13.5% came from the United States but the nine other countries in the top ten were in Africa and Asia. The globally diverse top 10 nations were:

     Top 10 Represented Countries     
1. United States (13.5%)
2. Nigeria (9.2%)
3. India (7.6%)
4. Pakistan
5. The Philippines
6. Kenya
7. Ghana
8. Bangladesh
9. South Africa
10. Zimbabwe

We always hoped to attract students from diverse backgrounds, especially from low-income nations, but even we were surprised by the breadth of the response. Philanthropy University’s online platform is what has enabled this reach.

Each course runs for 6-8 weeks and is taught by a respected professional in his or her field. Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, the world’s first peer-to-peer micro-lending site, teaches a course on global social entrepreneurship. Paul Brest, former president of the Hewlett Foundation, teaches a class on nonprofit strategy. Shashi Buluswar, an international consultant and instructor at Berkeley-Haas, teaches a course on scaling up social impact ventures.

There were a group of “super-learners,” who completed all seven courses and earned a Certificate in Social Sector Leadership from Berkeley-Haas. Surveys from this group show that many were already well along in their professional careers and represented a diverse mix of sector experience, with nonprofit, for-profit, and social enterprises almost evenly represented.

PhilU Enrollments by Sector

The past six months clearly demonstrate that Philanthropy University has identified a hunger on every continent for professional training in the social impact arena.

In 2016, Philanthropy University will build on its base of active students and gradually expand its offerings. We will offer each of the seven original courses four times this year. In the fall, after analyzing feedback from students and social-sector professionals, we will add four new courses.

In the meantime, we have already confirmed that students placed a very high value on Philanthropy University’s interactive online forums, in which students can engage directly with instructors and each other. That was part of our concept: to serve as an open-source innovation hub in which people from different nations, working on different issues, could exchange knowledge and collaborate on innovative solutions. Expect to see more activity on this front.

Our long-term goal is to empower a generation of leaders who can ultimately improve life for countless millions of people. Judging from the response so far, Philanthropy University is on the right track.

This blog post was originally published on the Berkeley-Haas Institute for Business and Social Impact blog.

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