By Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Here’s the challenge and curse of running a nonprofit: So much to do, and so little time and money to do it. Always, the mission’s the thing; and anything that doesn’t seem to further the mission directly, like staff and management development, often gets short shrift.
But that’s short thinking, says Beth Schecter, a nonprofit management consultant.
“Training is very important to the nonprofit sector, perhaps even more important than to the private sector,” Schecter says. “In some ways, nonprofits that receive government funding are more highly scrutinized than for-profit companies. That’s why managers and staff must have the training and support they need. “
Unfortunately, however, nonprofit executives too often fail to make staff development a priority.
A Philanthropy Journal article looked at the 2011 “Daring to Lead” report and found that more than half of nonprofit executives surveyed said their organization underperformed when it came to staff development because it was not “a strategic priority.”
It may be time to change those priorities.
How staff and management training further your mission
Training helps you retain employees
LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report showed that 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.
Since a large chunk of soft expenses for nonprofits relates to staffing, a nonprofit could save money by devoting funds to training. The employee you keep is less expensive than the new employee you must bring up to speed.
Training helps you stay relevant
Training enables your staff to stay current on the latest technology and theories, the newest and best ways of doing things.
For instance, think about how social media has changed the way nonprofits spread their message. And social media changes every minute. Facebook’s the thing; no, now it’s Instagram. And by the time you finish reading this, some new social media thing will be king.
The world moves fast, and training helps your staff stay up to date.
Ways to stretch your training buck
You don’t have to stretch your budget to afford staffing training.
Exploit in-house resources
You can provide opportunities that encourage employees to tackle projects outside of their comfort zone, where they’ll learn new skills. Just make sure you support efforts with coaching and feedback.
You can mentor less experienced employees, which helps them identify passions, weaknesses, skill gaps, and pathways to career success.
Identify training groups that give nonprofits a break
Service organizations exist – nonprofits helping nonprofits – that offer free, low-cost, or sliding-fee training for nonprofit employers.
Other places that aid staff development for free include:
- Facebook groups: Nonprofit Budgeting & Finance, WordPress for Nonprofits, Nonprofit Communications Professionals
- LinkedIn groups: Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations and Non-Profit Accounting & Grant Management
- Young Nonprofits Professional Network, a chapter organization that connects emerging, nonprofit leaders with resources, people, and new ideas
- Nonprofit Tech Clubs, which provides free events for nonprofit staffers to learn about technology.