PORTSMOUTH Non-profit organizations employ one in seven New Hampshire residents and generate annual revenues of nearly $ 11.8 billion. The Great Bay Community College Business & Training Center offers a program that gives industry leaders the skills they need to do their jobs better.

"No one gave them a handbook. We give them the basic instructions, "said Joe Ryan, Great Bay Community and Business Education Program Leader. "Generally, nonprofit organizations are led by people who have a zeal and passion for the cause that is important to them, but trying to do the work that is so important to them, which they miss, it's their own learning and their own development. "

The Great Bay Community Leadership and Non-Profit Management Program teaches essential skills to newcomers to the world of non-profit organizations and those who want to become better at what they do. The program is designed for board members, directors, staff and volunteers. They will learn strategies and techniques to improve the efficiency of the organization and develop stronger community partnerships.

The program includes five 12-hour courses, which can be followed at a time or individually: introduction to non-profit management, fundraising for non-profit organizations, grant writing, leadership in non-profit organizations and community and civic engagement. Each class meets once a week for three hours for four weeks. Each class costs $ 199.

"Nonprofit leaders are very well meaning, but there is no guarantee that they will know the best way to contact a potential funder, how to write grants and become a community leader," Ryan said. "Our courses allow employees to acquire skills that they can easily apply to work."

Rachel DeCicco, an independent Fellow at Exeter, followed the full course sequence last fall. She recommended the program to her colleagues and lobbied Great Bay to add courses in database management, web design and accounting, among others.

"It was the best thing I ever did," she said. "You can buy all the books on writing grants, but being in a classroom with competent instructors and other grant seekers brings a host of different ideas, projects, solutions and concerts and unimaginable. "

The program shows that it is important to build strong relationships with community partners "not just to introduce themselves and ask for money," Ryan said. "It's about going out and listening to the needs and talking about what you can do for them."

These skills are important in a competitive environment where non-profit organizations compete for money and attention, he said.

Ryan said the nonprofit sector tended to attract people who had been successful in business or the business world and were looking for a second phase in their career that would involve giving back to a community or work for an organization with a mission that matches their personal interests. It's a steep learning curve, he said.

"They are often exhausted and easily discouraged, and full of doubts about themselves," he said. "They realize that they do not know how to do this job, we teach them how."

For more information on the program including courses starting Feb. 25, call Ryan at (603) 427-7778 or e-mail at the address jfryan@ccsnh.edu.