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How to start your own human rights NGO

Starting a human rights NGO is not an easy task. It requires a variety of skills reaching from leadership to management over to fundraising or campaigning – to name a few. If you are on the verge of founding a human rights NGO, building your own capacity and motivating others to join the cause is essential. We have compiled a list of free online courses that can help you achieve your goals.

Understand how NGOs work

If you are committed to start your own NGO, the free online course Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector, Nonprofit Organizations, Nonprofit Leadership and Governance offered by the State University of New York will provide you with the essential knowledge about concepts of governance and leadership. In this 5 week course you will explore the basics of the non-profit sector and discover the trends and emerging issues that non-profits are facing today.

Learn to inspire and lead

Regardless whether you are a seasoned leader or are starting from scratch, effective leadership skills are an integral aspect to support your cause and inspire others to join your mission.

Case Western University is offering a course on Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence that will provide you with the skills to build effective relationships with your team through empathy, hope and compassion.

If you prefer to emphasize your negotiation skills, the course High Performance Collaboration: Leadership, Teamwork, and Negotiation will prepare you to expand your leadership repertoire, design teams for collaborations and craft win-win negotiation strategies.

To create more inclusive working environments for your team you might also be interested to take the course Gender and Sexuality: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace or Diversity and inclusion in the Workplace.

In the Organizational Leadership Specialization,  an advanced program consisting of 4 courses, you will equip yourself to successfully lead organizations through clarity of purpose and effective collaboration — by building and motivating teams; designing and delivering powerful stories; developing strategies to appropriately influence; understanding underlying customer analytics and applying innovative approaches to deliver impact.

Raise funds for your cause

Raising funds for your organization will be crucial to strengthen your growth and ensure sustainability. In the course Fundraising and Development Foundations offered by the University of California you will learn how to develop a case to identify and assess prospective donors, match donor interests with your organizational goals, structure a successful solicitation, and respond to ethical dilemmas.

Learn how to manage organizations

The course International Organizations Management by Geneva University introduces International Organizations and the United Nations from a managerial perspective. The course provides first-hand insights into the inner workings of international organizations and the challenges they face today. The three weeks course is taught by senior level staff of international organizations themselves.

Develop hands-on skills

If you have just launched your new NGO, chances are high that you will perform more than one task. Obtain hands-on skills in Social Media Marketing, Ethical Social Media, Financial Accounting, Education and Campaigning and Branding, to increase your proficiency in a multitude of tasks. A large amount of other free hands on courses is available on Coursera.

Master the issue you want to tackle

You are likely to focus the work of your NGO on a specific human rights issue, explore some of the courses we have listed on our page to further deepen your knowledge on a specific cause and to engage with a global community that cares about the same issues. Take a course offered by the United Nations or learn from top universities about a specific issue such as Women’s Rights or Children’s Rights or Humanitarian Law.

Good luck!

About the author

Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) aims to help human rights students, recent graduates and young professionals to pursue a career in the highly competitive field of human rights.