Marcus Thomas is no stranger to hard work. The week after he graduated high school, he started working at a bank during the day and taking classes at night. He stayed in banking for 14 years.
Now he’s putting that drive into a new career, helping others. Marcus enrolled in the online Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Nonprofit Management (NPM) at UNC Greensboro. He’ll graduate Spring 2022.
A certificate lets you commit to your passions
“I started to realize that banking was starting to become no longer a real passion of mine,” Marcus says. “I’m a man of faith, so I started praying and just trying to seek wisdom in regard to what are some of the things I’m really passionate about, and volunteering, communities, and serving are all passions of mine.”
In 2018, Marcus got an opportunity to work as a program director for his church, Mount Zion Greensboro, where he oversees volunteers and community outreach initiatives. Last year, he also started his own company, Thomas Consulting Group, where he assists nonprofit and for-profit organizations with organizational development, community relations, civic engagement needs, fundraising, and marketing.
Marcus heard about the NPM program from friends. “I kind of wanted to get my feet wet before just jumping all in at first, so I went the certificate route,” he says. He has already submitted his application for UNCG’s Master of Public Affairs program. Credits from the certificate can be applied toward the MPA.
Take skills from the classroom to your client
Marcus says enrolling in the NPM program was a great decision. His professors have been supportive of his career path and educational journey, and he can apply what he’s learning in his courses to everyday life and to his work.
In the Philanthropy and Resource Development course, he learned to create an effective solicitation letter, helping him identify new partnerships and new donors for his clients. He also learned to create annual funds and different types of fundraising campaigns, and how to update an organization’s website to encourage prospective donors to learn more and donate.
Volunteer Management taught retaining, recruiting, and managing volunteers, skills that have been valuable in his program director role.
Make a lasting impact
Through Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Marcus has been able to make a financial impact on the organizations he serves. For one organization, he exceeded a $25,000 fundraising goal through individual donors and sponsorships because of skills he learned in the course.
“That’s huge because historically from the organizational standpoint, less than 10 percent of its revenue had come from individual donors,” he says. “So now we’ve got to continue to cultivate these relationships and retain these donors and help grow their gifts over time. So that’s one thing I’m trying to do is continue to build quality relationships because even long after I’m no longer doing work for the organization, I want them to be able to maintain those relationships and continue to have those dollars coming in.”
Setting a career in motion
Marcus has already earned recognition for the work he is doing. He was named to Triad Business Journal’s list of 40 Under 40 and was selected for the Triad chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He also serves on various boards through the community, including the Community Foundation for Greater Greensboro.
Marcus hopes to use his knowledge to become an executive for a foundation one day — something he watched his aunt do when he was a child.
“Just growing up, being around her, I really just enjoyed watching her trajectory and her career, and it’s something that I want to model my career after,” he says. “So I knew that outside of having the experience, I needed the education. However, that is my end goal. I want to continue to do some great work in the community that my family and I are living in.”
Learn about the certificate
Find out details about the graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management.