As a nonprofit, your mission is the driving force behind the work you do. It’s what inspires, engages and connects people. It draws them toward your organization, and it rallies them around a common purpose.
But even the strongest mission on its own isn’t enough.
To sustain it, you have to support it. New hires need training so they can infuse your mission into the work they do. Seasoned staff need opportunities to freshen up their knowledge over time. Donors and sponsors need to understand the impact and see how their contributions are helping you bring the mission to life.
In essence, you need a strong learning culture that helps fuel people’s awareness of, attachment to, and passion for your organization and the work it does.
Here, we look at how working with the right learning partner can help you build that culture.
1. Empower Your Staff
You can’t bring your mission to life without your staff, which is why it’s so important they have the tools, training and support they need to succeed.
In part, it’s about enabling them to use their time and resources as effectively and efficiently as possible. This is especially the case when the same people wear multiple hats. While the education team’s primary focus is on creating the best possible programs and content, that may not be their only priority. They may need to tackle other projects and tasks that are critical to the organization, including staying on top of grant proposals.
Looking at the big picture, they also need access to upskilling and professional development (PD) opportunities. Research consistently shows that having access to PD makes people feel more engaged at work and likely to stay and grow with their organizations.
2. Reach More People
Your organization can’t grow unless more people know about who you are and what you do. Education can be a valuable vehicle in helping you get the word out there to drive your mission forward.
As part of your larger learning strategy, taking an online approach can bring some benefits:
- It can be more scalable and cost-effective for your organization to run than in-person learning. You can roll programs out almost anywhere without needing to send trainers and materials to multiple locations.
- It’s more centralized, which helps make it easier for your teams to manage. Instead of relying on disparate systems and workflows, you can deliver programs across multiple audiences using one solution.
- It offers learners more flexibility because they, too, can participate without needing to travel. This can give people more opportunities to engage with you so they can stay informed about the great work you’re doing.
- It can also open new, different doors for distribution. You could make courses accessible for donors via a storefront, for example, or push courses out to external learning management systems.
A concern people sometimes have when it comes to online learning is that although they’ll be able to get their content in front of more people, the experiences won’t be engaging. This is where tool choice comes into play, because the right one can make a big difference. Broadly, you need to make sure the staff who are creating and maintaining courses have options. They need to be able to blend text and multimedia elements, incorporate opportunities for reflection and knowledge checks, include quizzes and assessments, make the whole experience accessible, and do even more.
3. Showcase the Impact
Conceptually, we know that learning can help your organization further its mission and support the people and communities you serve. But to feed sustainable growth, you need to be able to prove that. You need to be able to show that education and training are generating a return on investment and positively impacting business drivers.
For volunteers, donors and partners, learning can serve two functions. First, it gives you evidence of program growth and validates that their contributions are having positive effects. Second, it can be a vehicle for them to find out about the work you’re doing and gain firsthand experience with the platform and content.
Having outcomes on hand also supports staff initiatives. The more readily available the results, the easier it will be to pull them into grant proposals and donor communications.
4. Align Learning With Strategic Goals
Your mission isn’t a fleeting, transient thing, and your learning strategy shouldn’t be either. Investing in learning is about more than finding a novel piece of technology or building a content repository. It’s about creating high-impact learning experiences that engage, excite and inspire your audiences and connect them to the valuable work your organization does.
Work with a partner that understands and values learning as much as you do, so that we can advance your mission together.
Haley Wilson is a Content Marketing Manager at D2L, specializing in the corporate learning space. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph as well as a Master of Arts focused in history from Wilfrid Laurier University.
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