Gordon in the News: last updated 11/03/2008

Serving The Passion: How Students Can Help Nonprofits Succeed

By Jo Kadlecek
October 31, 2008

When Casey Cooper was studying accounting and business at Gordon College, she struggled to know how exactly she would leave her mark on the world. She, like so many Gordon students, knew she wanted to have an impact in some meaningful way. She just wasn't sure how.

But by the time Cooper graduated in 2003, she'd come to realize she could minister as an accountant in a sector of the business world that had always interested her: nonprofit organizations.

 "I'd always loved accounting and would have done it no matter what," Cooper said, "but using that knowledge in the nonprofit world--where making money is not the priority--is really exciting."

Today, Cooper is an assistant professor of economics and business at Gordon College and now has the opportunity to merge her experiences as a Certified Public Accountant with her passion for nonprofits. She, along with colleague, Ted Wood, professor of economics and business, and a team of others have recently launched the Center for Nonprofit Organization Studies and Philanthropy at Gordon College, offering new courses for a minor unlike any other at a Christian college across the nation.

The Minor in Nonprofit Organization Management and Social Entrepreneurship is designed specifically to support a student's major. Its purpose--and its uniqueness--is to augment students' majors across disciplines while providing an understanding of the function of nonprofits in society. Whether studying youth ministry or social work, recreation or the arts, Gordon students with the new minor will be equipped for careers or volunteer opportunities in nonprofits across a broad array of interests and passions.

"We realized that when Gordon students graduate, they take jobs with relief organizations, hospitals, museums, businesses and a host of other not-for-profit organizations," Wood said. "So we began to ask why wouldn't Gordon College, of all places, be helping students better understand that type of administrative ministry?"

Enter Joe Krivickas, a local entrepreneur with an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. Though his career has spanned a number of successful start-up businesses, Krivickas couldn't ignore his passion for ministry. So two years ago he began meeting with Wood, Cooper and others at Gordon to explore ways he could help. When he learned the College hopes 100 percent of its graduates will be involved with nonprofits in some capacity, whether as an employee or a volunteer, Krivickas found his answer.

"Partnering with Gordon College allows my family and me to invest in our passion to develop young people into leaders," Krivickas said. "It's exciting to be a part of a project like this, one that equips them to better serve the non-profits they love."

In addition to the minor--which includes three courses that cover issues such as social entrepreneurship, grant seeking, funding sources, public relations and management principles--The Center for Nonprofit Organization Studies and Philanthropy at Gordon College hopes eventually to host conferences, campus speakers and offer online noncredit certificate courses. The unique emphasis on nonprofit studies at a Christian liberal arts college makes the Center the first of its kind, while also meeting a crucial need that has been missing in organizations for decades.

"So many individuals in nonprofits are well intentioned but have little business experience," Cooper said. "They're working in an area that requires a piece of their heart, or their passion, so they deserve to use their resources to the best of their ability. This program provides that training, which is a great ministry in itself."

For more information on the The Center for Nonprofit Organization Studies and Philanthropy or other Gordon College stories, please contact the Office of College Communication at 978.867.4752. 


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston's North Shore, which offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian Colleges.