Professional Development

Learn through Mini-Courses at Your Desktop!

The Mini-Courses below provide online professional training in philanthropy education and service-learning. In your own time and at your desktop, learn methods of thoughtful service-learning, as well as the history, practice, and benefits of philanthropy, for educators, nonprofit professionals, parents, and volunteers. Participants earn certificates that may be applied toward professional CPE credits. Your certificates are emailed to you and stored in your account profile for access anytime.

Welcome to the Fisher Online Institute for free professional mini-courses! 

Click on the title of the course to begin. You will need to create a free account to access the courses. The mini-courses include information, research, tips, stories, videos, and reflection to engage the learner and may be completed in 20-45 minutes. 

Three types of courses:

  • Understanding Philanthropy (history, framework of democracy, nonprofit careers)
  • Service-Learning Practice and Projects (service-learning, reflection, raising philanthropic kids, project ideas)
  • Using Website Resources (getting started and using different resources and lessons on the site)

This course gives a step-by-step plan for building community and addressing community needs we care about. We define philanthropy and help youth identify their passions and identify needs before planning to give their time, talent, and treasure in connection to learning and community. Learn tips and tools through lessons, activities, project ideas, and training.

Explore the research-based motivations for giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good and learn how and why to motivate oneself and others to serve. 

Here's one creative way to engage youth voice to take voluntary action for the common good -- teach them to use spoken word for the causes they care about. This mini-course provides background, examples, and tips for teaching spoken word poetry. Designed for facilitators, this mini-course is also accessible to youth.

This brief tutorial provides a tour of the rich and useful Learning to Give website. This course guides you through key starting points and tips for finding some of the great resources available. The more you explore, the more you'll find to guide your practice and expose young people to the knowledge, skills, and practices of philanthropy. 

This mini-course provides a brief overview of everything you need to know about the nonprofit sector. You will learn about the role that the sector plays in society, how and why people work or volunteer in the sector, issues within nonprofit organizations, and how to empower youth with participation in the nonprofit sector

This Mini-Course provides a background for teaching the “Food for Thought” Middle School service-learning unit for the seventh grade or for anyone who wants to add the content into their work with youth. The "Food for Thought" unit covers how food is grown and harvested, the challenges of meeting the basic need of food, and the issue of food insecurity in the world. The multi-disciplinary 3-4 week curriculum is available for free on Learning to Give.

We are all connected in a global community, and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call us to action to make a better future for everyone. In order to be successful in reaching these goals, all citizens need to be aware of what the issues are and ways to take action. In this mini-course, we introduce the 17 SDGs and explore ways to bring the goals to life with youth. We guide awareness about the current 17 goals with tools to research and decide which issue participants care about most.

In this mini-course, we learn what student activism looks like, why it is important to teach the knowledge and skills of social action, and ways to include activism in practice that gives students more purpose and ownership in their learning and volunteerism.

Learn about the purpose of reflection and a variety of reflection techniques and questions. Engage the hearts and minds of volunteers and activists in order to increase the meaning of any service experience. 

Raising children includes instilling values and habits that help young people grow into caring and productive members of society. Children learn philanthropic behavior and habits from family, faith-based practice, school, and other community influences. Throughout this course you will learn some of the theory, concepts, and practices that guide young people to be giving and empathetic adults. 


Learn about philanthropic elements of ancient civilizations and religions. Explore the philanthropy of major social movements in the history of the United States.

The Mini-Courses provide online training in philanthropy education and service-learning. In your own time and at your desktop, learn methods of thoughtful service-learning, as well as the history, practice, and benefits of philanthropy, for educators, nonprofit professionals, parents, and volunteers.