The nonprofit sector is filled with shifting best practices, emerging technology solutions, and noteworthy trends. To continue generating a meaningful impact on the lives of those you serve, you and your staff members need to adopt a mindset for continuous learning, whether that’s researching cryptocurrency donations or exploring how to inspire birthday fundraisers on your nonprofit’s behalf.
By investing in employee training opportunities, your nonprofit can equip its staff with the latest tips and tools for success. But if you’re tight on funds, it can be challenging to make room for training in the budget. In this guide, we’ll cover five reasons why employee training is a worthwhile priority for your nonprofit:
- Higher employee engagement.
- More professional connections.
- Improved employee retention.
- Reduced operational costs.
- Amplified community impact.
A recent survey by NonprofitPRO found that one of the top three nonprofit staff management struggles reported by leaders last year was hiring and retaining quality employees. This finding indicates a pressing need to develop initiatives for supporting your dedicated staff members. Let’s get into the specific benefits of employee training and how your nonprofit can start tapping into them today.
1. Higher employee engagement.
According to 360MatchPro’s employee engagement strategies, offering professional development opportunities is an impactful way to improve internal communications, productivity, and performance at your organization. Your staff members will appreciate your commitment to their career goals and feel more motivated to apply new skills to their roles.
Aim to provide multiple training options to appeal to various preferences and maximize engagement, such as:
- Online courses. Many online classes cover relevant nonprofit topics including grant writing, volunteer management, communications, and social media outreach. Depending on your staff members, you could enroll them in synchronous, asynchronous, or a blended learning format.
- Mentorship programs. Creating a mentorship program is an excellent way to cultivate a sense of community at your nonprofit. There are several types to consider, from one-on-one mentoring to group mentoring. Enlist some of your more experienced staff members to become mentors and strengthen their leadership skills while serving as positive role models to their mentees.
- Lunch and learn sessions. Nurture a culture of learning in your workplace by inviting employees to host lunch and learn sessions. This type of voluntary, informal training takes place during lunch breaks and provides team members the chance to share relevant skills and tips they’ve picked up in their roles with peers.
- Conferences or workshops. These events can introduce your nonprofit’s employees to new ideas and sector-wide best practices. While registering all of your staff members may not be financially feasible, sending just one or a handful of individuals can still benefit your entire organization since they can share the insights they’ve gathered upon their return.
Employee training builds morale and confidence, resulting in teams that take more initiative and collaborate more effectively. Plus, engaged employees typically feel more empowered rather than overwhelmed in the face of a challenge at work, which means they’ll be more likely to brainstorm innovative solutions.
2. More professional connections.
Relationships lie at the heart of your nonprofit’s long-term success. Beyond donors, volunteers, and corporate partners, it’s important to build connections with other professionals in the nonprofit sector as well. Many types of employee training make it easy for participants to develop meaningful and productive professional relationships with others in the industry.
For example, Laridae’s nonprofit management training rundown highlights interactive classroom and “coffeehouse” discussion sessions as valuable opportunities for participants to learn from both expert instructors and the experiences of their peers. By enrolling your nonprofit’s managers in these educational sessions, you’ll pave the way for new connections as they develop skills alongside other professionals in similar roles.
These professional connections can not only immerse your nonprofit’s employees in a sense of community, but they can also help your organization improve its outcomes. Developing close relationships with other nonprofit organizations can help you increase your reach, augment your resources, and expand your brand awareness.
3. Improved employee retention.
Every day, your nonprofit’s employees devote significant time and energy to furthering your mission. However, daily workloads and limited resources can quickly cause a feeling of burnout even among your most dedicated staff. Beyond promoting self-care best practices, investing in training can combat the work pressures your employees face by helping them:
- Improve their time management
- Advocate for needed resources or new processes
- Develop the skills and tools to overcome challenges
- Feel confident and empowered in their roles
- Find a sense of support and community in their peers
After taking the time to recruit talented employees for your nonprofit, ensure that they’re equipped and inspired to stick around for the long run. It’s estimated that the cost of losing an employee can be as high as 1.5-2 times their annual salary, or an average of $1,500 for hourly employees. By cutting down on the time and costs associated with interviewing and training new staff members, you’ll free up more essential funds to apply to other aspects of your mission.
4. Reduced operational costs.
Many tasks and responsibilities go into your nonprofit’s day-to-day impact, from engaging donors to operating your programs. To do so successfully, your team needs to understand how to make the most of the time and tools at its disposal, such as its fundraising software. The more well-versed your staff members are in their roles, the more benefits your nonprofit will receive, including:
- Greater efficiency
- More streamlined workflows
- Improved resource allocation
- Cost-effective outreach
- Stronger stakeholder relationships
Survey your employees quarterly or annually to collect feedback on the topics and types of training they’d prefer to explore. For instance, one team member may be interested in learning about AI fundraising and its potential, while another might want to master SEO best practices to improve your nonprofit’s online presence.
5. Amplified community impact.
By staying tuned into the latest nonprofit best practices, your staff members will be able to forge more authentic, stronger connections with community members and drive more significant results for those you serve. This might entail developing a strategic plan that directly resonates with your stakeholders or opening up a new fundraising channel that appeals to donor preferences.
As you begin to see the benefits of your employee training, be sure to communicate your results and impact to your staff, donors, volunteers, and board members. Doing so can generate additional enthusiasm and support for your nonprofit, leading to more gifts, event sponsorships, and more.
If you’re not quite sure how to implement training opportunities at your nonprofit, consider contacting a nonprofit consultant. These experts can evaluate your staff’s training needs, help you put together a strategy, and even provide one-on-one coaching to specific team members.
Once your employee training is in full force, remember to recognize your staff members for all of their accomplishments. Depending on your resources, you could spotlight them on social media, send them branded eCards, or print out certificates. By reinforcing your employees’ efforts, you’ll ensure that they remain passionate about learning and improving year after year.