OL 201:

Designing and Funding

Nonprofit Programs

Project Design for Nonprofit Organizations 201

Participate in this nonprofit training program and learn how to address the needs and challenges of your community members.

OVERVIEW: Project Design for Nonprofit Organizations

What is this course?

An 8-week, self-paced training program in designing a nonprofit project working with local community members. By the end of the 8 weeks, you will have designed a project complete with evidence based activities. You will have written a project logframe in preparation for the next course—OL 202—where you will develop a full set of donor documents in preparation for funding.

Project Design: Learn by doing.

Advance your Career, Raise Funds and Solve Challenges. Learn program design, funding and management online. This nonprofit course is for nonprofit and donor staff—and job-seekers wanting to successfully solve community challenges. Participants work on projects as diverse as social services, community development, education and the environment. The course will lead you through the development of similar, real projects, in real time, in your own community.

How will you you learn about Project Design?

A dual approach will be used in this course:
1. The course will lead you through the development of a real project, in real time, and leave you with the practical field tools to sustain it. We are committed to achieving results-based nonprofit goals.
2. For long-term sustainability you will learn to incorporate community identified need into the design of your project and research project activities that have shown evidence of having worked at solving challenges.

Who should take this Project Design course?

1. This course is perfect for nonprofit staff and job-seekers wanting to successfully solve community challenges and fund programs. Participants have worked on nonprofit programs as diverse as social services, community development, education, the environment, and social justice —and who want to develop practitioner-level skills. If you are a grant writer, nonprofit staff member, consultant, project manager—or an executive director—you will develop real skills mastery.

2. This course is just as relevant to a person considering a career transition into the nonprofit world and wanting to develop employable skills.


Project Design Syllabus

8 Weeks: Develop a real world project.
Week 1. Complete enrollment and get comfortable with the training platform.
Week 2. Clearly define the community and the overall challenge.
Week 3. Conduct a participatory needs assessment.
Week 4. Develop a theory of how to solve the challenge.
Week 5. Research scientific evidence that supports your theory.
Week 6. Return to the community with your project concept.
Week 7. Develop a detailed project outline & logframe.
Week 8. Share your project with a donor for feedback.

See a detailed syllabus.


Project Design Participants Say:

“Tim and his online team are only an email away and based on my own experiences never failed to respond to my challenges, concerns, successes and queries.

I know that my community members and I have benefited tremendously from our interaction with Tim and participation in the program.

I do wish you continued success with your commitment and drive in providing excellent service, and valuable and practical knowledge.” Gillian Primus

Tim Magee: Climate Change Scientist & Author

Great Program Design + New Donations = Increased Services. Create your Own Nonprofit Program Design & Attract Donors.

Real human help: The training program will be led by Tim Magee, CSDi’s Executive Director, has over 40 years experience working with nonprofits. Mr. Magee is the author of A Field Guide to Community Based Adaptation, The Beginner’s Guide to Online Donations, and is a Co-Founder of Seattle Tilth: An Urban Agricultural Center.


Have a question? Contact our team for quick answers.

ENROLL: How To Enroll in This Course.

Simply choose whether you wish to audit the course or work with a live teacher—and then click on the “ENROLL NOW” button to make your payment.

Last Step:  Your next step is to simply fill out the student information sheet to complete your registration.

PRICING: Project Design with a Live Teacher

Teacher Led

Take this course with a live teacher. You will have complete access to the download course resources and lessons described below. Certificate: Turn in the 6 assignments and you will receive a PDF Certificate. Your course teacher will offer professional comments and encouragement for your assignments.

Course Number

INCLUDES: Project Design Resources

Job-focused content includes:
6 PDF Detailed Assignments
6 PDF In-depth Discussions
6 MS Word Completed Assignment Templates for you to personalize to become your own assignment for submittal.
Over 50 Word, Excel and PDF resources to download that contain hand books, studies—and project templates for you to edit and personalize.

Course Syllabus

  • Week 1 Learn to navigate the course website, download the week's documents, and form partnerships.
  • Week 2 & 3 Clearly identify the community that you hope to query for the needs assessment. Read the document on participatory needs assessments and conduct an informal assessment with a few community members to uncover a real challenge. List the needs identified and organize them into a clearly described challenge—a nonprofit challenge that you are going to solve with your project design. We want this as real as possible.
  • Week 4 We will clarify your project’s challenge, develop a theory of how you plan to solve it, and research 3 solution-oriented activities that would fulfill the premise of your theory.
  • Week 5 Research one peer-reviewed paper for three of your project's activities and see if scientists have found evidence that they are effective in solving your project’s challenge. Write a one paragraph summary of the papers’ findings.
  • Week 6
    1. Share your proposed project concept locally with colleagues to gain feedback and constructive criticism.
    2. Return to the community with your project concept and get their feedback and hopeful buy-in.
    3. Pick one of your evidence-based activities and write a simple one page guide on how a field staff person could implement it.
  • Week 7 Write a workshop lesson plan for introducing this activity into a community, and then make an illustrated, How-to card to give to community members.
  • Week 8
    1. Share your project with someone that you would like to sell it to: a donor, your boss, your professor, someone in the development/nonprofit world for feedback.
    2. Lay out your challenge, proposed solutions, and activities in a simple matrix (logistic framework) that I will supply. This will prepare you for the next course: OL 102 where you will transform your project into a set of management documents that can formally be presented for funding.