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James Honan

Senior Lecturer on Education, HGSE


This course provides a general introduction to and overview of the financial management practices and problems of nonprofit organizations. Specific topics will include financial accounting, budgeting/resource allocation, cost containment and retrenchment, and strategy development/strategic planning. Course activities will include lectures, discussions, case analyses, exercises, and outside readings. Grades will be based on written case analyses, class participation, and a final take-home examination.

The specific objectives are to: 1) familiarize students with how information on the financial position of nonprofit organizations is measured and recorded and with how this information is summarized and reported; 2) examine how financial statements and reports are utilized to analyze a nonprofit organization's financial condition and organizational efficiency and effectiveness; 3) review the purposes and techniques of budgeting and resource allocation in nonprofit organizations; 4) highlight the ways in which information produced by management control systems can aid personnel and programmatic decisions as well as how this information can be used to assist in the formulation of responses to declining or constrained resources; and 5) improve students' understanding of alternative approaches to strategic planning in nonprofit organizations.

The course aims to make students better managers and consumers of financial information rather than budget officers or accountants. Through a general introduction to the financial mangagement  practices and problems of nonprofit organizations, this course will familiarize students with the principles and techniques of financial management and control. No prior knowledge of finance or accounting is expected or needed.

Also offered by the Graduate School of Education as A-027. Please note, this is a jointly offered course hosted by another Harvard school and, accordingly, students must adhere to the academic and attendance policies of that school.