Getting started with a not-for-profit LMS

Table of Contents

In this article, we explain several terms and ideas to help you make sense of jargon, acronyms and key features surrounding not-for-profit LMS. 

What is a learning management system?

A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. 

An LMS allows an instructor or administrator to create, manage, and deliver content, track student progress, and assess student performance. It can also be used to manage and track continuing education and professional development programs.  

LMS platforms are typically based ‘in the cloud’. This means that you can access them from your browser and there is no software to download or install on your computer. Working from the cloud, learners can access training from any location at any time, and you wont need to worry about deploying IT yourself.  

What are key acronyms used in online training? 

The training industry is full of jargon – including many acronyms. Here are three key acronyms used in online training: 

  • LMS: Learning Management System. This is the key platform to manage your training.  
  • eLearning module: This is an online training course, typically lasting 15-60 minutes (e.g. Information Security Awareness or Delegating Tasks as a Manager). eLearning modules could also be called online training modules or online courses.   
  • eLearning authoring software: Modern LMS platforms have built-in capabilities to create eLearning modules, eliminating the need for separate tools and costs to do this. Older LMS platforms rely on a second piece of software – eLearning authoring software – to create eLearning modules which are then uploaded for playback into the LMS. 
  • Learning Pathway: This is typically a bundle of eLearning modules, based around a theme, role or skill (e.g. Employee Compliance pathway might consist of five eLearning modules on different aspects of compliance). 
  • SCORM: SCORM standards for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. This is a very old format for eLearning modules (creating in 2001). Some older LMS still rely on this SCORM format (created in external eLearning authoring software) to manage their training content. More modern LMS have built-in eLearning creation features so you can create training modules in the LMS without needing to rely on the SCORM format.  
  • Online content library: In addition to creating your own eLearning modules for your not-for-profit LMS, you may also be able to access ready-made eLearning modules. Some not-for-profit LMS may include access to such an online content library, giving you access to immediate training content. This may include Australian and New Zealand based compliance training (although it may also be generic content, not suitable for local learners) as well as capability based training on topics such as productivity, management, communication or service. Ideally, online library content appears in your organisation’s branding and is editable by you (to allow for additional customisation).   

What is a not-for-profit LMS typically used for? 

A not-for-profit LMS is typically used for a variety of purposes, including: 

  • Delivering training to volunteers and staff: Not-for-profits often rely on volunteers and staff to carry out their mission. An LMS can be used to deliver training materials, such as videos, quizzes, and handouts, to volunteers and staff. 
  • Tracking and reporting on training progress: A not-for-profit LMS can be used to track and report on the progress of volunteers and staff through training materials. This can help not-for-profits ensure that all volunteers and staff have completed the necessary training. 
  • Offering online courses to the public: Not-for-profits may use an LMS to offer online courses to the public, such as training on a specific topic or educational resources on a specific issue. 
  • Managing professional development: An LMS can be used to manage professional development opportunities for employees and volunteers, tracking their progress and achievements. 
  • Creating and managing certification programs: Some not-for-profits use LMS to create and manage certification programs for volunteers and staff. This can include tracking their progress through the program and issuing certificates upon completion. 

Overall, LMS is a powerful tool for not-for-profits to manage, track and deliver their training and education programs, and to ensure that all staff and volunteers are properly trained and equipped to carry out their mission. 

How long does it take to implement a not-for-profit LMS? 

The amount of time it takes for a not-for-profit to implement LMS can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the organization, the complexity of the LMS, and the resources available to implement it. 

Generally, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for a not-for-profit to fully implement an LMS. The process typically includes the following steps: 

  1. Identifying the organisation’s needs: This includes determining the specific training and education needs of the organisation and identifying the features and capabilities that the LMS should have. 
  1. Researching and selecting an LMS: This includes researching different LMS options and selecting one that best meets the organisation’s needs. 
  1. Setting up the LMS: This includes configuring settings, creating users and courses, and testing to ensure the LMS is working properly. 
  1. Developing and uploading content: This includes creating and uploading training materials, such as videos, quizzes, and handouts, into the LMS. 
  1. Training and onboarding: This includes training staff and volunteers on how to use the LMS and how to access and deliver training materials. 
  1. Going live: This includes making the LMS available to users and going live with the training and education programs. 

It’s important to note that the steps and the time it takes will vary depending on the complexity of the LMS, the resources available, and other factors. For example, some LMS platforms are designed for ‘enterprise’ organisations – very large organisations with extensive training requirements, detailed customisation and a large training team. Other not-for-profit LMS platforms are built to assist small to medium organisations, with more streamlined processes, ‘out of the box’ solutions and automated features. 

What does a not-for-profit LMS cost? 

The cost of a not-for-profit LMS can vary widely depending on factors such as the features included, the number of users, and the length of the contract. Some LMSs are open-source and free to use, while others can cost thousands of dollars per year.  

Some of the key differences in costs include: 

  • Once-off set up costs. Some providers have upfront costs payable on the initial set-up of your not-for-profit LMS. These costs may be incurred if the LMS provider charges for platform provisioning, implementation training or other set-up expenses. 
  • eLearning module creation costs. Some LMS platforms include a full eLearning authoring features within their platform, eliminating this cost. Other LMS platforms have only limited ability to create eLearning modules and require a separate solution for your training creation – either external eLearning authoring software or content creation costs from the provider. 
  • Active vs Stored user costs. LMS platforms tend to have a subscription based on users. This means you pay a recurring fee (annual or monthly) in exchange to access your cloud not-for-profit LMS. The fee is typically determined by the number of users in your LMS. For some not-for-profit LMS providers, the fee is based on stored users – this means the simple total of the number of all users in your platform. For other not-for-profit LMS providers, this fee is based on ‘active’ users – users who are not just stored, but actually logging into your platform. Active user subscription are therefore typically 30-50% cheaper than stored user subscriptions. 

Other costs which may be incurred will vary depending on the LMS provider, but may include storage fees, support costs, training fees or fees to access specific (advanced, optional or unusual) features. 

Tribal Habits is the leading Australian not-for-profit LMS 

Are you looking for a not-for-profit LMS for your Australian charity? Tribal Habits are experts in helping a huge range of Australian not-for-profit organisations to set-up their first LMS, move training online or transition from expensive, out-dated LMS platforms.  

With a single subscription, all-in-one features (including built-in eLearning authoring tools and a full AU/NZ content library) – plus an additional 20% discount for not-for-profit organisations – we’ll help you quickly and easily transition your training online. Contact us to get started


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