Riccio said the course will focus on individual decision-making in giving and will teach strategies students can use to make sure their donations are effective.
"I'm trying to teach people about giving with their heart and their head," Riccio said.
Charitable gifts should be relevant to whatever people are passionate about, Riccio said. But this class will teach people how to judge what kind of impact a nonprofit makes and how well-run the charity is based on how much it spends on administration.
Allyson Goldhagen said she hopes many more people sign up for the class because she found the university version of the course so valuable, and she's looking forward to helping teach the online course.
Taking Riccio's class at Northeastern shaped the way Goldhagen thinks about nonprofits and helped her land her current job at the Associated Grant Makers, where she helps charities in the Boston area become more efficient.
Goldhagen said the course can help people realize how important their gifts are to nonprofits, even if they are modest. That's why she talked both of her parents into taking the course.
"I really hope that they start to think differently about the world and their impact on it," Goldhagen said.
Doris Buffett's grandson, Alex Buffett Rozek, organized the online course, and he said he hopes this will be the first of many times it is offered.
In addition to what students learn in the course about effective giving, the nonprofits involved are also learning because usually the classes focus on smaller local charities. As students review organizations that might receive grant money, the charities learn about the process of winning grants.
"These grants are huge to the organizations that receive them," Rozek said. "And because they went through the process, they do understand how to fill out a grant application and get funding."