4 Training Challenges Faced By Not-for-Profit Organizations That Can Be Solved By an LMS
Employees in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector deserve relevant, high-quality training and development material that helps them continue to do great work while staying ahead of changing rules and realities. Read on to find how a learning management system (LMS) can help NFP organizations solve four significant challenges faced by the sector.
Around the world, the number of charitable and not-for-profit (NFP) organizations continues to grow. In Australia alone, there are more than 600,000 not-for-profit organizations, accounting for 10% of the workforce. Couple this growth with new working trends such as remote and hybrid learning, and the sector inevitably faces a number of unique training challenges.
Most importantly, the growth and the upheaval of recent years has left employees in the sector poorly serviced by existing training. Many find that training isn’t up to date, or properly tailored to the field and the kinds of roles which they currently have or are trying to enter. NFP organizations are particularly exposed to changes in medical and legal contexts, and individuals need to be kept up to date on new marketing collateral, industry research, and logistic procedures.
NFP employers and managers need to provide tailored training programs that educate and empower their employees to feel focused and motivated towards their purpose.
However, limited budgets, geographically dispersed employees, and part-time roles can present training challenges for NFPs and make it difficult to bring staff and volunteers together to learn. One of the best and most cost-effective ways of organizing training and development is within a learning management system—a software solution that can help address those training challenges and more.
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1) How an LMS Helps You Reach Global Teams
Even before recent changes to working habits, non-profit organizations have traditionally spread themselves across many offices, outlets, depots, and sites—dispersed teams offering efficiency, cost savings, greater agility, and coverage for their work. Indeed it’s rare to find non-profit organizations with all their employees in a single location!
However, despite the benefits of this team structure, gathering employees together for something like a training workshop becomes a significant challenge. Workshops are a bad fit for dispersed teams in fast-moving industries because:
- They need to run for one to two hours, with a minimum number of attendees to justify the expense, creating inefficiencies
- They cannot run on-demand, leaving employees waiting for a workshop to be scheduled
- They rely on the skills of the facilitator to ensure delivery is engaging and consistent
- Travel expenses cannot always be justified, reducing the availability for each location
A learning management system is likely to better meet the needs of a dispersed not-for-profit organization. By using a learning portal with an integrated training creation tool, teams can quickly build engaging online content which can be delivered to any location, on any device, at any time, and with consistency. They can ensure that everyone is getting the same information—and stop relying on old slide decks that are now outdated and incorrect!
Online training can also help your organization deliver critical information that keeps everyone in the loop. New information can be distributed immediately, with full tracking, reminders, and reporting, all with little to no expense.
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2) How an LMS Helps You Make the Most of a Limited Training Budget
Margins within the not-for-profit sector are naturally and necessarily tighter than in other sectors. Organizations risk harming their reputation if expenses cannot be justified, and where cheaper but equally effective alternatives exist, budgets remain modest. Training is no exception.
When you’re operating within a limited training budget, every dollar spent on training must be spent efficiently. You need to minimize the spend on expenses that aren’t directly correlated to training outcomes and ensure that the most appropriate training delivery methods are selected.
In-person formats have fallen out of favor as a result. Returning to workshops as an example, they’re not only challenging to organize, they’re also not very cost-effective. A significant part of the cost of a workshop goes towards expenses not directly correlated with training outcomes, such as workbook printing, training room hire, travel expenses, facilitator costs, and travel time.
That’s not to say that workshops don’t have a role to play, but they must be used sparingly, and while focusing on their strengths. This is when a learning management system can make a big difference. You can dramatically cut your training expenses while increasing your training outcomes if you select an NFP-friendly learning management system that:
- Is built for the needs of the NFP sector
- Has no set-up fees
- Provides discounts for NFPs
- Uses an active-user subscription model (to ensure your costs are 100% aligned with usage)
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3) Using an LMS That Works for Small In-House IT and Training Teams
Budget restrictions don’t just restrict the kinds of training you can offer. Most charities don’t have the budget for large L&D teams. Other departments may be run similarly—in-house IT employees can also be few and far between.
Small L&D teams (and small support teams) can present several training challenges for NFPs. Overall, it’s usually more difficult to:
- Deliver in-person or workshop training at scale because the ratio of employees to L&D personnel is too large
- Deliver hosted online virtual or webinar training because of time constraints and lack of IT support
- Devote time to managing training (enrolments, reporting, etc.) at scale
- Monitor completion rates (send reminders, monitor compliance)
- Implement complex learning management systems with large associated set-up costs
- Use 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 solution that can take on many of the aspects of managing training at scale. Furthermore, a cloud-based platform can also help significantly—with the software hosted by a third party and accessible from anywhere, there’s little to no in-house IT support required.
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4) Using an LMS That Enables Customized Training
Every NFP has its own policies, procedures, processes, and standards, creating significant training challenges for the sector. Finding off-the-shelf training content that’s completely ready to go without significant edits is difficult—employees and volunteers at NFPs need customized learning that is accurate and relevant to them.
This custom content requirement demands a strategic approach to content sourcing and delivery:
- Firstly, organizations must source training on key compliance legislation, discrimination, bullying, IT security, workplace health and safety, and more. This content needs to be localized to reflect rules in each employee’s country of residence, and it ideally should be branded to reinforce the messaging as part of the organization’s culture and values.
- Secondly, organizations must be able to create custom training that describes their ‘way of doing things’. From fundraising to managing difficult discussions, an organization will likely have a range of processes it needs employees and volunteers to follow.
These customization demands mean that organizations will need an LMS that’s more than just a simple administrative tool. For example, it needs to be possible to personalize which localized version of a course is served to each employee, so that only the most appropriate version is available to them. Integrations with course authoring tools will also be a significant time-saver—allowing L&D teams to easily publish the large volume of customized courses they create.