Creating an online training or education course can help raise funds—or make better use of the ones you have.
As we’ve covered before, there are many reasons non-profits should use online training to onboard new volunteers. An online program can standardize the training process for all volunteers, it can scale to meet any size, it reduces the amount of in-person training required, and it is flexible to use anywhere it is needed.
However, non-profits can also take advantage of online training courses to both directly and indirectly boost their fundraising efforts. Indirectly, volunteer training improves the bottom line, which is good for donor trust. Directly, it can educate volunteers and donors about the non-profit mission, or even be a fund-raising program in its own right.
Obviously, we think LearnDash is a great LMS to use for creating online training for non-profits. But if you’re wondering how online training leads to more fundraising, here are just a few ways it makes that possible.
1. Improve budget use through volunteer training.
One of the first rules of fundraising is that you have to be able to demonstrate the value of your non-profit before you can ask for donations to support it. There are a lot of fantastic organizations out there doing good things in the world, and all of them need resources to operate. Unfortunately, there are also bad actors who misappropriate funds and damage trust among donors.
Accordingly, nothing enhances the credibility of your non-profit like being able to present a financial statement demonstrating how responsibly you’ve put your funds to use. Of course, getting to the point where you can demonstrate good stewardship of your resources isn’t all about keeping a tight fist on your purse strings. It’s also about making sound investments in your organization that build team unity and mission focus.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through thorough and effective volunteer training. This not only helps those working with your organization accomplish their goals more efficiently, it also leads to better experiences for those they’re serving, and can diminish the negative effects of “volunteerism.” Poorly-trained volunteers can do more harm than good, even when they mean well. By investing in the right kind of training from the beginning, you can ensure their hard work gets put to good use.
2. Create specific volunteer training programs that focus on fundraising.
Volunteers need to be trained to do the work of your organization, but a passionate volunteer can also be one of your best advocates when fundraising season rolls around. However, as excited as a volunteer may be to raise money for your cause, they can just as easily land you in hot water if they don’t represent your organization well.
Asking volunteers to engage in fundraising isn’t as simple as sending them a packet of brochures and having them to go door-to-door. Instead, you will need to educate them on how to present your organization possible donors, how to respond to frequently asked questions, and when to recognize when someone isn’t ready to donate and wants to be left alone.
Providing volunteers with this training is valuable support for them as they engage possible donors, and can inspire confidence in those who are unsure of how to begin.
3. Develop and onboarding package for new donors.
It’s common wisdom in many businesses that the most valuable customers are returning customers. Yet despite this, many businesses fail to market to returning customers effectively. They take their business for granted, and instead spend most of their resources in trying to reach entirely new customers.
I think something similar can be said for non-profits and their donors. Winning a new donor to your cause is a big achievement. But if you lose track of that person, you may miss out on a chance to turn them into a recurring donor.
Developing good relations with your donor base isn’t just about following up with them, however. It’s also about treating them like a valued member of your organization, informing them of the progress you’re making toward your goals, and even educating them on some of the topics that are most valuable to you both.
Creating onboarding resources for donors in the form of an online program can be one way to engage them more fully in your mission. Not only can you instruct them about your cause, you can introduce them to your donor community by creating discussion forums where they can share ideas that matter to them. And the more engaged your donors are in your community, the more they will want to invest in your cause.
4. Sell courses in related topics to raise funds.
In winning the public over to their mission, non-profits distribute a lot of resources for free—but not all of them. I’ve you’ve ever purchased a book or video series from a non-profit, you know the value of these resources for educational purposes. Why not tap into online education as another income stream?
Let’s say your non-profit is dedicated to improving urban gardening techniques. You might create a series of courses that demonstrates different raised gardening layouts, or that covers organic gardening tips. Or you might create a certification course in your area of expertise—such as environmental conservation—that learners can present as credentials when working with other environmental groups.
As training resources, your courses can also be used by teachers elsewhere in the world, thus expanding the reach of your organization.
Help your non-profit make the most of its funds through effective online education.
Non-profits do the world a world of good. And as any non-profit organizer knows, the more funds go toward the mission of the non-profit, the more confidence donors and investors have in making their contributions.
Online training might not be the first thing many non-profits think of when they begin brainstorming fundraising strategies, but used effectively, it can be a powerful ally. So don’t underutilize this resource as you plan the future of your non-profit. The sooner you begin developing better resources, the faster you can put them to use in service of your organization.