Top 4 training challenges for not-for-profits

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In today’s economic environment, we’re seeing massive growth in the charity and not-for-profit (NFP) sector. Charitable organisations are employing more people than ever before. In the face of such growth, there are many training challenges for not-for-profit organisations.

Not all NFP employees are out in the field for humanitarian aid organisations. The charity and not-for-profit sector encompass a wide range of roles and positions – from medical and legal professionals to marketing managers, researchers and logistics experts. NFP organisations can indeed be humanitarian, but they can also be active in industries such as social services, aged care, or early childhood education.

The 2018 Australian Charities report reveals that NFP organisations account for 10 per cent of Australia’s workforce, with non-profits employing more than 1.3 million people – making it Australia’s second-largest employment sector.

For people working in the NFP sector, it’s critical to receive relevant and quality training and development. NFP employers and managers need to provide tailored training programs that educate and empower their employees so that they can feel focused and motivated towards their purpose.

However, limited budgets, geographically dispersed employees and part-time roles can present training challenges for not-for-profits and make it difficult to bring staff and volunteers together to learn.

Let’s review the top four training challenges for not-for-profits in this article to help you prepare a business case for a potential solution: a learning management system for not-for-profits.

Geographically separated learners

It is rare to find non-profit organisations with all their employees in a single location! NFP employees are typically spread across many offices, outlets, depots, and sites. Gathering employees together for a workshop is just one of the significant training challenges for not-for-profits!

  • Minimum learner numbers are required to justify the expense of a workshop
  • Workshops cannot run on-demand, meaning employees must wait for one
  • Travel expenses cannot always be justified, reducing the availability for each location
  • Workshops need to run for 1-2 hours to justify the expense, creating inefficiencies
  • Workshops require a skilled facilitator to ensure delivery is engaging and consistent

A learning management system for a not-for-profit organisation eliminates these issues. When you use a learning portal with an integrated training creation tool, you can quickly build engaging online content which can be delivered in any location, on any device, at any time and with consistent delivery.

You can ensure that everyone is getting the same information – and not using slides that are now outdated and incorrect! Online training can also deliver critical information, even if its just 10-15 minutes of relevant content, instantly and at almost no cost. New information can be distributed immediately, with full tracking, reminders and reporting.

Limited training budget

Workshops are not only challenging to organise; they are the least efficient training delivery method. A significant per cent of the cost of a workshop goes towards expenses not directly correlated with training outcomes – workbook printing, training room hire, travel expenses, facilitator costs, travel time spent unproductively and so on.

That’s not to say that workshops don’t have a role to play, but they must be used both sparingly and focused on their strengths. Workshops are fantastic for highly interactive training sessions, involving team-based activities, breakout discussions, detailed case studies or role-plays. Unfortunately, most workshops are nothing more than ‘death by PowerPoint’ or used to deliver information on processes or policies.

When you are operating with a limited training budget, every dollar spent on training must be spent efficiently. You need to minimise the spending on expenses that are not directly correlated to training outcomes and ensure that the most appropriate training delivery methods are selected.

This is when a learning management system for not-for-profit organisations can make a big difference. If you are careful to select a learning portal that has no set-up fees, discounts for NFPs and an active-user subscription model (to ensure your costs are 100% aligned with usage), then you can dramatically cut your training expenses while increasing your training outcomes.

Lack of in-house IT and training staff

Most charities do not have the budget for large training teams – or sometimes even a single dedicated training resource. In-house IT employees can be few and far between too.

This creates several individual challenges in training for not-for-profits:

  • Inability to deliver in-person or workshop training at scale
  • Difficulty in delivering hosted online virtual or webinar training
  • Lack of time to devote to managing training (enrolments, reporting) at scale
  • Inability to monitor completion rates (send reminders, monitor compliance)
  • Difficulty in implementing complex learning management systems with set-up costs
  • Difficulty in using sophisticated eLearning software to create required online training

When your charity lacks dedicated human resources to apply to training creation and delivery, you need an automated online solution that can manage training at scale. It also needs to be a cloud-based platform with little or no IT implementation requirements.

Customised and compliant training

Employees and volunteers at NFPs need customised learning. It is a great training challenge for not-for-profits to deal with. Every NFP has its own policies, procedures, processes, and standards.

First, you need to source training on key compliance legislation – discrimination, bullying, IT security, WHS and more. This content needs to be localised for your country. Ideally, it should be presented in your branding to reinforce it as part of your culture and values.

Second, you need to be able to create custom training on your organisation’s ‘way of doing things’. From fundraising to managing difficult discussions, your charity will likely have a range of processes you need employees and volunteers to follow.

The result is that you need a learning management system for a not-for-profit which is more than just a simple administrative tool. It also needs to provide relevant ready-made compliance training (in your branding) as well as have an easy-to-use process to capture internal knowledge and transform it into engaging online learning.


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