COM690/400 Special Topic: Nonprofit Communications


COM690-001/COM400-002 Fall '14-15; Thursday, 6:30 pm--9:20 pm
Lawrence Souder, Ph.D. Voice: 215-895-2730
Classroom: PSRC 103
Office Hours: Thursday, 5:00--6:00 pm
Office: #47, Room 324 E-mail: LS39 @


All nonprofit organizations must develop and maintain effective communication strategies in order to survive in a competitive economy. Nonprofits have unique needs and limitations in their long-term goals and short-term operations that relate to communication. This course introduces students to the ways nonprofits communicate with both their constituents and their benefactors and the ways researchers have examined these practices. Students will explore these two perspectives on nonprofit communication through a combination of scholarly readings, dialogues with local representatives in the nonprofit sector, and direct contact and work for a local nonprofit organization (as coordinated by the Drexel Center for the Support of Nonprofit Communication). This course articulates with the content and goals of other courses in the Department of Culture and Communication, specifically COM280 (Public Relations), COM220 (Qualitative Research Methods), COM282 (Public Relations Writing), COM286 (Public Relations Strategies and Tactics), COM675 (Grant Writing for the Arts and Humanities), and COM680 (Public Relations Writing and Strategies). Questions of interest are:


Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

*Relevance to Drexel Student Learning Priorities

Textbook and Readings: Grading:

We will use the online materials to explore the conventions of nonprofit communications, which is the primary goal of this course. Our secondary goal is to explore the recent attempts to challenge those conventions. For this goal we will read and discuss supplemental readings. Students taking this course for graduate credit are required to present two of these readings and conduct the relevant class discussions. These readings are listed at the end of the relevant study guides. See presentation guidelines for details.


You are expected to attend all classes. Attendance is important to your progress and your classmates'. Much of what you learn will come from discussions and interactions with your fellow students. A formal presentation for which you are absent will be graded as an F. If an emergency prevents you from attending class (such as a personal illness or family emergency), please contact me in advance of your absence. You may miss one class without penalty; any additional absences will reduce your final grade.


You are expected to be on time for all classes. Late arrivals are disruptive to the instructor and your fellow students.

Academic Honesty

It is assumed that the work you submit for this course, whether written or spoken, is your own. Any attempt to represent someone else's work as your own will be considered plagiarism. See the University's policy on plagiarism--a form of academic misconduct. Plagiarism includes copying another student's work on papers or tests, copying without attribution the ideas or words from published sources, and submitting papers written in previous semesters. Such academic misconduct will result in a failing grade for the assignment, a probable failing grade for the course, and a report to the Dean for possible disciplinary action.


Each class meeting will require you to prepare a reading and a writing assignment. Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade increment for each class day late. See the Assignment Schedule for details. Click on the chapter designators for study guide questions to help you focus on the key concepts. Expect a short quiz on each chapter as a check of your understanding of the concepts. Click on the project designators for specific details on the writing assignments.

Special Needs

Students with disabilities requesting accommodations and services at Drexel University need to present a current accommodation verification letter (AVL) to faculty before accommodations can be made. AVLs are issued by the Office of Disability Services (ODS). For additional information, contact the ODS at, 3201 Arch St., Ste. 210, Philadelphia, PA 19104, V 215.895.1401, or TTY 215.895.2299. Other resources for students with special needs are available from the following:


Assignment Schedule


Due Date







Nonprofits defined

Mission Statements

Online 1
Drexel's Mission Statement
Morphew (16)





Strategic Plan

Online 2
Drexel's Strategic Plan
Cornut (33)


Patricia Connolly
Center for Corporate Governance




Annual report

Drexel's Annual Report
Online 3
Marnoch (36)

Mark Eggerts
Director of Strategic Communications
University Communications




Formal letters of appeal

Online 4

Sargeant (17)

  Meredith Lindemon
Associate Director
Communications & Marketing




Grant proposals

Online 5


Project 1

Sarah Saxton
Research Program Administrator
College of Arts and Sciences




Public relations materials



  Brad Levinson
Marketing and Social Media




Policies and procedures

Briggs, et al.
  Matthew Schwab 
Director, Development
Annual Fund




Program Outcomes

Project 2 Lori Doyle
Senior Vice President
University Communications



Boundary spanners Isbell

Jennifer P. Johnson
Assoc Director
Lindy Center for Civic Engagement



      Student Presentations of Client Projects



Project 3


* Numbers link to online materials; names refer to authors of journal articles