We need to raise the standards


We need to raise the standards


“Civil society is the backbone of any country and currently it takes over the political and social landscape of Armenia. Thus, to have a prosperous country we must work on the development of the non-profit sector but with systematic and institutional approach,” says Talar Kazanjian, the Executive Director of Armenian General Benevolent Union.

Following this idea, in December 2018, for the first time in Armenia a Non-Profit Management Certificate program was introduced as a result of the flourishing cooperation between AGBU’s EU funded Bridge for CSOs project and the Extensions Office of the American University of Armenia. The program is designed for senior and mid-level managers of non-profit organizations with an aim to up-armor its beneficiaries with the basic skills needed to succeed in the NGO sector.

Regional Post talked with the great minds behind this project including Sergey Tantushyan, the Director of  AUA Extension Programs, Talar Kazanjian, the Executive Director of AGBU, and several NGO representatives who went through this enlightening experience during the prototyping phase.

Text : Margarit Mirzoyan    Photo : AGBU

European Union for Armenia

The Non-Profit Management Certificate program is quite innovative in terms of its set up and structure as it didn’t follow the usual way of designing an educational program. “Before testing the course in practice, together with AGBU team, we implemented market assessments, held discussions with the NGO representatives, carried out surveys and focus groups. Then we adjusted the overall concept of the program to the identified market and capacity building needs,” says Mr. Tantushyan. When the initial teaching staff was defined, they prepared syllabuses for corresponding classes and designed Teaching Notes for each class, including recommendations, lineups for the course and topics. The overall process and designing the Teaching Notes in particular, was not only an advanced outlook but it also ensured the sustainability of the program, as even if the faculty changed, the course would go in due course.

Sergey Tantushyan, the Director of  AUA Extension Programs

Sergey Tantushyan, the Director of  AUA Extension Programs


After all the preparatory works, the first prototyping phase was organized for the NGO representatives who received grants from AGBU’s EU funded Bridge for CSOs program. After tailoring the program based on their feedback, the second phase of prototyping took place in Vanadzor, to give the program a regional scale.

The pilot version of the program had general courses such as Project Management, Marketing, Fundraising, Communications, IT and English for NGOs. It also had narrower classes such as Politics in the 21st century and HR for NGOs. There were overall 13 courses and the program took around 26-30 weeks. To become a certified non-profit manager accredited by the American University of Armenia one needed to take at least 6 courses.

Now, the pilot phase is over, and the program has its first graduates. For the participants this project became a platform for discovering their capabilities as well as finding out about the details and nuances that need to be taken into account. “There is a huge number of small trainings and workshops, but we want a systematic development of the civil society with an integration of the institutional and educational components. For example, in the IT sphere, if you don’t have the corresponding specialization, you cannot work in there, the same should be for the NGO sector. We need to raise the standards!” says Ms Kazanjian.

Further the program will go into free float as an eligible certificate program open for interested applicants. Everyone who works in the sphere or envisions his career path in NGO sector can apply for the program; the only restriction is to have a bachelor’s degree.

Talar Kazanjian, the Executive Director of AGBU

Talar Kazanjian, the Executive Director of AGBU




Syune Ghazaryan Dog’s Place NGO

The NGO sector in Armenia still needs development and this program is an irreplaceable chance for this progress. Besides the very professional teaching staff, the group of participants is also picked up very well. As a result, several cooporations among us emerged.

Anush Zeynalyan, Armenia Art Foundation NGO

Before coming to Armenia, I had never worked in NGO sector and here when I entered the sphere, I had a lot of questions. I used to do some things intuitively or use google but this program filled in the gaps that I had and provided me with all the necessary tools.

Marina Parazyan, Source Foundation

The participation in this program was a very important experience for me. I received information and skills that are essential for someone who manages an NGO, starting from English and Project management in all its dimensions, ending with the right ways of cooperating with the Government and holding the accountability to the granting organizations.

Taron Grigoryan, Innovation and Technological Community NGO

In the life of every person, there comes a time when one needs to improve his/her skills and knowledge as new tools and approaches emerge in the world every day. This program was a great opportunity to update and upgrade our knowledge on different aspects of our work, starting from legal questions ending with internal communications. The overall process was perfectly organized, and the staff was very responsive to our requests.

The signing of the contract to launch the program

The signing of the contract to launch the program