Nonprofit organizations benefit the world at large through their desire to serve their constituents, communities, volunteers, etc., using public service initiatives, educational assistance, environmental actions, food and shelter resources, and many, many more for those in need on a local, state, country, and/or a global scale. These programs provide the inventiveness and resourcefulness critical to meeting and serving societal needs.
While many for-profit organizations already have a learning system in place, nonprofit organizations are now waking up to the reality of the importance of ongoing team training and engagement. As a nonprofit, it is imperative to focus on creating a productive and knowledgeable base of teams and volunteers to learn, understand, and effectively collaborate to deliver your mission and message. Sure, nonprofit training is usually a negotiable aspect of your budget; however, you cannot ignore the benefits of enhanced learning, planning, and professional development proper training can provide.
Traditional nonprofit training has typically been face-to-face, or in person, meetings involving costly infrastructure like meeting space onsite or offsite expenses, airfare and hotel expenditures, staffing overhead, right down to increased power consumption! These costs pose colossal time and budget constraints to many nonprofits, especially when training hundreds of staff, donors, volunteers.
Even with a limited budget, nonprofits can effectively train and upskill their teams using cost-effective, modern, flexible learning management systems to leverage and support a wide range of learning & development programs.
There are three ways an LMS can support nonprofit training initiatives. Before we go there, let’s define what a Learning Management System (LMS) is. An LMS is a cloud-based software application that enables you to create, document, track, report, automate, and deliver your training remotely or demand style learning online. So, what are those three key ways an LMS can support your mission?
- Facilitating Training for Nonprofits:
A nonprofit organization’s main objective is to address a cause or support a need within their community, state, country, or the world. Nonprofits across industries, including religious, charitable, scientific, or educational, can leverage LMS platforms to provide training, collaborative activities, and other resources for their members, volunteers, and staff on a global scale.
With the help of an LMS, nonprofits can provide a range of courses/training/education to their staff and volunteer groups through an easy-to-use, easily accessible online platform. This enables you to improve your team’s productivity and contribute to your nonprofit’s mission’s success. An LMS allows for multiple staff/team training programs to achieve unified goals irrespective of their time zone, language spoken, education, and skill level, including:
- Hassle-free learning: An LMS enables you to provide training modules that are engaging, impactful, and accessible. You can diversify your training content with techniques such as gamification or augmented reality and leverage ways to communicate important information, announcements, and events through forums, web conferencing, and other tools.
- Learning On the Go: Mandatory classroom-based training requires teams to attend training at a physical location at a set time and date. However, an LMS creates a flexible on-demand learning environment where learners can access the course content through any Internet-connected device, such as smartphones, tablets, or computers.
- Mobile Responsiveness: A mobile responsive LMS lets your staff and volunteers access training material from anywhere in the world because it is on-demand (online and available 24/7). Learners can attend virtual webinars, connect with members or fellow learners, and access all training materials on their connected devices from the comfort of their sofas at whatever day/time is convenient to them.
- Automated Tracking: Nonprofits need to track and evaluate individual and team performance and the overall organizational success of your learning & development program. Gone are the days of using Excel Spreadsheets or other means to track data. All of this can be done automatically by an LMS, including full reporting and data export. This helps determine the best course of action in developing future training content that interests your learners and helps build your teams while supporting and strengthening your organizations’ goals.
- Data Management: Unlike the traditional methods where altering the course content was a hassle, with an LMS having robust data management capabilities, you can make immediate changes to the content with ease. An LMS also enables you to track engagement, success, and goals across specific courses, activities, departments, or locations. Easily integrating an LMS into your existing system allows you to analyze your team’s performance, identify areas where they might be struggling, and design specific role-based training. Armed with this knowledge and data, you can easily make decisions, changes, and improvements to future learning initiatives. including notifications and reminders
- Increasing Donations:
Not only can an LMS help educate your development team, but it can also be used to train/educate your donors, generating increased donations and donors. Many nonprofits provide educational training to their donors on different ways to support your mission, show them how their donations are being utilized, and how their contribution makes a difference. Let’s check out some methods below.
- Fundraising and Grant Proposal Writing: Once your fundraising team is up-skilled, they tend to be more productive and proficient in performing their duties. Using a good LMS can help you better define and reach your goals. The training provided equips them with relevant skills to fundraise effectively and write compelling grant proposals.
- Improved Donor Communication: Without consistent donations from your nonprofit’s benefactors, it’s difficult for nonprofits to survive. Maintaining healthy relationships with donors should be a top priority. An LMS can facilitate excellent relationship-building and donor communication practices with your donor base while delivering relevant and entertaining training content to your teams on topics that help build those relationships with your donors. Donor retention is crucial for your organization’s financial progress. Never underestimate your teams’ current skill level or ability to engage with donors.
- Provide Paid for Content (eCommerce): Besides creating courses for your organization, some nonprofits choose to sell their courses online to those outside their organization (eCommerce), such as compliance training. A good LMS will allow for the integration of popular payment gateways such as Authorize.net, Stripe, PayPal, Woo Commerce, etc., to make for an easy, seamless transaction. This way, you can deliver training and educational resources and create opportunities to earn revenue to offset decreases in donations.
- Required Legal Compliance:
Audit and legally required compliance training and tracking are critical to a nonprofit’s ability to operate. Most nonprofits are regulated by governmental oversight and organizational governing bodies that require licensing to operate and establish a nonprofit. There is necessary training that must be provided, such as financial oversight, business practices, safety, anti-harassment, etc., to comply with the laws.
LMS platforms help you stay current with legal compliance requirements. As an organization, you can create courses on compliance training, track course completion, measure comprehension and adherence, and provide downloadable certificates of completion. Your teams and volunteers value certifications because they boost morale, demonstrate their capability, and provide a record of compliance. You can then rest assured your teams can carry out their responsibilities at peak performance levels.
So, is LMS a good option for nonprofit organizations?
If you’re still pondering over this question, then you’re missing out on one of the most beneficial, cost-effective, streamlined, and effective means of providing organization-wide learning! Implementing an LMS might seem daunting in the short run. However, when you consider its benefits in the long run, an LMS can save you time and money while training and motivating your teams.
If your organization still uses traditional, antiquated learning methods, it’s time to step up to the ease, convenience, and technological advances afforded by a cloud-based LMS. In simple terms, the positives of having an LMS for your nonprofit outweigh the negatives because you’ll be able to get rid of overlapping tools, reduce overhead while saving time and money in the future.