Catholic Philanthropy Certificate

The University of Mary is proud to offer a graduate-level certificate program in Catholic Philanthropy. The three-course program offers advanced training for professional fundraisers or those seeking to enter the field of fundraising in service of the Church.

While the program is intentionally designed as a standalone graduate certificate, students may also choose to pursue the specialization in Catholic Philanthropy as a concentration which can be added to any of the graduate programs offered through the Gary Tharaldson School of Business, including the online MBA.

This program is ideal for professionals who wish to advance their careers and gain leadership and fundraising skills that can serve faith-based philanthropic endeavors in a variety of settings.

Focus and UMary logos for their partnership together.

Program Outcomes

  • This curriculum is designed to prepare students to sit for the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) exam.
  • Demonstrate full knowledge of the "Theology of Gift" and how these principles impact modern philanthropy.
  • Incorporate professional best practices in the field of fundraising and synthesize those practices with the Catholic Faith.
  • Demonstrate professional competence as a manager or senior Mission Advancement professional in service of the Church.

Led by the faculty of the University of Mary and industry professionals, the Institute for Catholic Philanthropy enables participants to explore and reflect upon the foundations of charitable giving—most notably the “theology of gift”—in the context of the Catholic Church’s rich tradition of scholarship, understanding and experience, including sacred Scripture, early and modern Church writings and contemporary sources.


Program Details

  • Courses are offered over the summer months, with most coursework being delivered in a convenient online format. The program does include a one-week residency in July on the University of Mary campus in Bismarck, ND.
  • Instruction is offered from proven professionals in Catholic Philanthropy, and content has been prepared with leaders of FOCUS and the University of Mary.
  • Designed to fit the busy schedules of working professionals, students can obtain this advanced training without sacrificing their current employment.
  • With tuition costs under $5,000, the program offers an affordable opportunity for meaningful professional development.

A timely and robust program, the Certificate in Catholic Philanthropy draws from some of the greatest teachers of past and present with the aim of forming leaders who
 can successfully cultivate and direct charitable giving in the achievement of human flourishing.

Required Courses

There are three courses needed to complete the Catholic Philanthropy Certificate:

  1. Foundations in Catholic Philanthropy
  2. Transformational Giving: Activating the Gift
  3. Principles and Practice

Professional Education at the University of Mary

A trailblazer in online and evening-based professional education, the University of Mary leverages years of experience and advanced technology to deliver a superior learning environment.

  1. Online Learning

    Utilizing Canvas, the student learning management system, participants complete all of their requisite studies in a cloud-based setting that is truly 24/7—all via one’s desktop, laptop, tablet or cell phone. In addition to course materials and assignments, participants are able to engage their instructors and one another in a convenient online setting that combines all the benefits of classroom learning with the flexibility needed for working professionals wherever they may reside.

  2. Scholar Practitioners

    It is one thing for an instructor to know the academic principles behind good fundraising, but quite another for he/she to have success in the field.

    After decades of experience in professional education, the University of Mary recognizes the immense value of instructors who have served as effective professionals in the field of fundraising. Instruction will be supported by industry-leading professionals at FOCUS and the University of Mary.

  3. Student Support

    Students in the Catholic Philanthropy Certificate will be assigned an individual student success advisor to support them in their efforts. Our goal is to allow you to be successful, so you have a person assigned to you to assist in that effort.

Career Outlook

Employment of fundraisers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Strong employment growth driven by the continued need to raise money should result in great job opportunities!

+ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook

The Institute for Catholic Philanthropy was founded to serve a critical need in the Church. In a time of extravagant consumerism, the world produces more wealth than ever before; however, the universal call to charitable giving is poorly understood and poorly fulfilled. The Church desperately needs properly trained professionals who can assist the Church in meeting the needs of our time. Through their shared project in the Institute for Catholic Philanthropy, FOCUS and the University of Mary have worked to design graduate-level courses to address this core need in the Church.

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) was founded in 1998 and invites college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church, inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship and friendships in which they lead others to do the same. 

The University of Mary is a Catholic University based in Bismarck, North Dakota. Respected for its MBA and other accredited master’s degree programs in business, Mary proudly brings Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine values into its leadership development programs. Moreover, the University of Mary is the most affordable, serious, Catholic university in the nation. Focus and UMary logos for their partnership together.

Foundations of Catholic Philanthropy (3 credits)

This course provides an overview on Catholic philanthropic principles deeply rooted in Sacred Scripture and Church tradition. Students will analyze foundational principles such as Gift, Generosity, Gratefulness, and Love – specifically how they relate to charitable giving and motives. Students will synthesize these concepts through an exploration of sacred scripture, early Church writings, and modern Church works.

Transformational Giving: Activating the Gift (3 credits)

This course will define Major Gifts best practice and meet test preparation requirements for the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) test sections related to Securing the Gift and Relationship Building. Students will have the ability to interpret Major Gifts practices through the lens of SelfGift, compare different major gift approaches, and demonstrate mastery of major gifts techniques and presentation.

Mission Advancement Principles and Practice (3 credits)

This course analyzes and evaluates ethical, procedural, legal, and managerial principles and practices of running a successful Mission Advancement office. This course will also fulfill Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) test preparation necessary for the following sections: Donor Research, Volunteer Involvement, Leadership and Management, and Ethics, Accountability, and Professionalism.