We are very excited to have a special guest author from across the pond on blogging with us this week!
5 Reasons your Charity Must use eLearning
Charities are a unique type of organisation.
If you work for a charity, then you know that your unique organisation deserves a bespoke solution for training your diverse network of volunteers.
In this post, I’ll explain why - from my experience of hearing success stories of charities currently using eLearning in the UK - charities can benefit from implementing eLearning as a tool for training volunteers.
1. eLearning is Budget-friendly.
Charities aren’t out to make profit. Charities continue to exist because of donations.
Providing aid to those who the charity supports is the primary investment objective of any charity.
Essentially, there are quite a few reasons why charities operate admirably on limited budgets. These budget constraints can causes issues when training the volunteers who carry out the all-important work; as such, a highly affordable training solution is required.
eLearning is that solution.
Now, no two charities are entirely alike, and so the following statements are not strictly applicable to all charities, however, in general, we can confidently claim that:
- Charities tend to operate on a larger and more widespread scale than a confined office environment.
- Charities rely on volunteers; without a formal hiring process, there is a higher likelihood that a charity's network of volunteers are dissimilar in personality and interests.
Because of these factors, the majority of traditional training methods are impractical and expensive for charities to implement. Allow me to elaborate:
The three most popular training methods according to the Learning and Development 2015 Annual Survey Report by CIPD are:
- on-the-job training
- in-house development programmes
- coaching by line managers or peers
As charity volunteer networks simultaneously operate from a diverse range of locations and on entirely different schedules dependent on their status, interests and lifestyles, the use of training methods such as these is difficult.
To organise training methods based upon practical face-to-face interaction in these circumstances would involve significant travel expenses and a huge amount of planning to arrange sessions even for just small groups.
This could mean that your charity may take several months to be able to train your entire workforce in small manageable groups who are able to meet up in the same location at the same time. Some individuals might even need training alone if their availability is so limited!
eLearning can overcome these barriers.
After the initial investment, eLearning can truly be as manageable financially as you want it to be.
A low monthly cost coupled with the time you invest in designing your eLearning to be as suitable for your workforce as possible are the only ongoing prices you have to pay. How much time you invest is really up to you.
Charity successfully using eLearning on a budget: Brandon Trust, a charity which provides services for individuals with learning difficulties and autism, received a Silver Award for Best Use of Resources at the Charity Learning Awards 2014. How did they achieve this? Of course, they used eLearning in an online induction programme that featured bespoke video content, tailored to train each individual business area of the organisation independently.
2. eLearning is Manageable.
Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, and so it can be difficult for your volunteers to find the time to fit training and learning related to their volunteering into their daily routines.
The table below depicts the percentage of US volunteers by the population of their employment status.
(Illustrative example: the sector of part-time workers consists of the highest proportion of volunteers out of the three sectors).
(Source: Volunteers in the United States, 2014 - Bureau of Labor Statistics)
What does this mean?
With different working hours and schedules, volunteering is a practice that is by no means the same for two individuals.
Methods of training that work for those who are unemployed such as on-the-job training, for example, may not be as suitable for those who are also managing demanding full time jobs as well.
(Accompanying note: On-the-job training may only be a viable training method during the day, due to the availability of mentors).
eLearning however, is one training method that is manageable for volunteers from all backgrounds.
- Your progress can be saved and the training revisited
- You’re not usually bound to time limitations
- It’s mobile so that you can learn from almost anywhere
- As it’s online, it can slot seamlessly into your work routine if you’re on track with your work aside from your volunteering
- eLearning can be undertaken over a long period of time in the limited small moments or pockets of time that you’re able to find in your busy schedule e.g. commuting on public transport
- It’s convenient for individuals with busy schedules, families to manage and so on
Charity successfully using eLearning as a manageable training method for their workforce: Addaction, a dedicated drug and alcohol addiction recovery treatment supporter in the UK, are successfully utilising eLearning to train their workforce of 1,600 staff and volunteers. Using in-house expertise to understand the requirements of their diverse workforce, Addaction have been able to design a flexible training system that has achieved an overwhelming 98%+ positive satisfaction rating! It’s no surprise they won the Gold Award for Organisational Buy-In at the Charity Learning Awards 2014.
3. eLearning Platforms are Scalable
One training system for your entire global network of volunteers.
That’s what you get with eLearning.
If your workforce operates internationally, eLearning is probably the most affordably scalable training method for you to train your workforce with.
Training staff in different languages across different continents sounds so expensive, doesn’t it?
It can be, but doesn’t have to be.
Learning Management Systems such as Mindflash are available in almost every language, so all you have to do is adapt your training to make it suitable for the legislation, culture, traditions etc. of other countries.
Doesn’t that sound like a much better option than paying for numerous different training methods, locating training mentors who will train your staff in their language and so on?
Charity successfully scaling eLearning as a training method for their workforce: Many of the globe’s largest charities utilise this strategy already; Oxfam are just one of those. A quick visit to their eLearning login site shows you that their courses have been created by four different bodies within Oxfam in order to train their network of volunteers. These four categories are: Oxfam Great Britain, Oxfam Italia (Italy), Oxfam Intermon (Spain) and External.
4. eLearning is Reactive.
It’s hugely important for charities to be able to react to emergencies.
Natural disasters, emerging cultural issues and a range of other developments and appeals require urgent attention from the appropriate supporting charities.
To be able to react to such events, training must be highly flexible and adaptable - which eLearning is.
With your own LMS, you’re able to control content and quickly create new training or repurpose existing training to quickly provide your workforce with the specific training they need.
Mindflash - who offer their own LMS to charities interesting in using online training software for their workforce - are aware of the need to be able to react quickly to such appeals.
That’s why earlier this year, they offered free online training to the First Responders of the Nepal Earthquake appeal.
Read that post to learn how you can use an LMS to react to developments and create your own custom course for your volunteers to engage with and respond to developments in no time at all.
Charity successfully using eLearning as a training method to react to emergencies: Open Learning Exchange Nepal (OLE Nepal), a charity committed to enhancing education and increasing access to technology in education in Nepal, has used eLearning to react to the Nepal Earthquake in a rather extraordinary way. As temporary shelters house residents affected by the earthquake, OLE Nepal have utilised eLearning to maintain the education of children who are now unable to attend their school in wake of the recent disaster. Read the full article to learn more about this remarkable story.
5. eLearning is Unifying.
Using an LMS to host your training makes for such a collaborative and unifying learning experience.
Online, your entire workforce will be able to benefit from a social environment in which they are able to share opinions, issues, problems and experiences, which will only enhance their learning.
There’s research that supports this too:
(Source: Learning and development 2015 Annual Survey Report, CIPD)
This by-product of the actual training and learning can also benefit your charity in ways other than simply cultivating an educated, knowledgeable and informed workforce.
Your eLearning program is also capable of improving international connections, if used appropriately to create a training process with a social element at its core.
Are you part of a charity?
Here’s 5 reasons why you should invest in eLearning:
- It’s the most affordable training method to scale.
- It works for your volunteers; regardless of all their diverse schedules, it’s highly manageable as a training method.
- It’s easy to expand your training program across different countries and make it suitable for different cultures and languages using eLearning.
- You’ll be able to react to developments so quickly with eLearning in comparison to other training methods.
- As a by-product of the actual training, the whole learning process can provide your workforce with a social, collaborative and unifying experience.
Author bio: Jordan Bradley works for High Speed Training (HST), a fully accredited specialist eLearning course provider based in the UK. He enjoys his responsibility of managing HST’s Hub - a blog which posts weekly insightful articles on a range of topics related to their array of online courses. Jordan spends the rest of his time running around the countryside, travelling on weekends to visit friends he wished lived closer, and fighting hard in the battle against laziness, amongst other things.