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E-learning and LMSs for charities and third sector organisations

Fix skill gaps and make training more accessible for staff and volunteers

Improve performance and develop online communities

Training and development can present many challenges for the charity sector for a number of reasons, which also makes it the perfect sector to benefit from effective e-learning. 

The reality of carrying out valuable and rewarding work within the framework of tight, funding-dependent budgets means training can understandably be put on the backburner. 

With so many different training needs to address and a universal lack of time amongst charity staff, as well as the need to ensure organisations are meeting compliance regulations, those in charge of L&D certainly have their hands full.

E-learning can seamlessly improve or even replace the existing training methods for most charities and quickly become a key part of their training processes.

"It’s about impact and the ability to reach more people, which is so important for us, particularly in schools where reaching more teachers makes such a difference"
Jane Griffin at LGBT Youth Scotland
LGBT Youth Scotland - Moodle-1
"It’s about impact and the ability to reach more people, which is so important for us, particularly in schools where reaching more teachers makes such a difference"

Jane Griffin

LGBT Youth Scotland
Salvation Army - Totara
"After being on an old version of the Totara LMS for several years, we took the plunge and upgraded to Totara 14. Our Totara partner, Hubken, seamlessly managed this upgrade for us – this allowed us to concentrate on the look and feel of the new system..."

Andy Heath

The Salvation Army

Training challenges we recognise in the charity sector

Skill gaps

One of the major issues facing charities is the prevalence of skill gaps amongst their staff and volunteers. A lack of proper training in key areas can have numerous impacts on organisations, particularly increased workloads. This in turn leads to slower completion, less capacity to accept new work and no room to develop existing services.

Varied training needs

The common skill gaps in smaller charities include things like marketing, impact reporting and fundraising, while for larger charities it can be things like project management and IT skills. Add in the need to meet regulations through compliance training, or even onboarding and CPD, and it’s clear the sector requires a variety of training.

Lack of funding

Funding is a challenge common to all charities. Ensuring donations remain stable, as well as trying to increase them, is incredibly difficult. The pressure to do more with less is constant and cost-cutting is a relentless necessity. The costs associated with off-site training can quickly add up, making traditional training an expensive venture.

Lack of time

Many charities often struggle with understaffing, while existing staff can lack the right training. This means workloads are large and time is scarce. It’s easy to see training as a disruption, taking staff away from key tasks for large portions of time, though its importance shouldn’t be underestimated and e-learning can help minimise disruption.

Train to retain

As charities are often unable to offer salaries comparable to those at for-profit, private sector organisations, recruiting top talent can be difficult. Retaining staff can also be a challenge, though many charity workers choose to work in the sector in order to make a difference. Training can be a great way to help retain top performers.

Geographical locations

Large charities in particular often have staff and volunteers located all across the country, making coordinating and organising training very difficult. Bringing staff all together in one location is expensive while having disparate training across various locations can lead to a lack of consistency in skills and new knowledge.

Why effective e-learning is essential in charities

Adaptable, centralised training
Charity workers working as a team

E-learning platforms come with all the flexibility and functionality to deal with any training challenges you can throw at them. Addressing the skill gaps in your charity organisation, as well as onboarding new staff and meeting compliance regulations is made simple. New learning content can be added at any time to adapt to any new requirements.

Save money
Charity working saving money

The tightening of belts when it comes to funding and the subsequent need to cut costs is something e-learning can help with too. Open-source options like Totara Learn and Moodle in particular are incredibly cost-effective and can massively reduce training costs permanently.

Flexible training
Charity worker e learning

As many charities are understaffed or have staff facing huge workloads, minimising disruption to their day-to-day schedules is key. E-learning can offer small, easy to digest content that staff can access whenever suits them.

Flexible training options
Charity worker online learning on laptop

The sheer flexibility of e-learning platforms allows them to meet even the most complex training requirements, including healthcare competency and compliance for new and existing staff. New courses and content can be added quickly and easily to adapt to new procedures and technologies.

Keep staff engaged
Engaged employee training using LMS

Training staff can be a great way of helping them grow in your organisation and charities looking to retain key staff should use training to their advantage. Engaging training is easy to provide with e-learning platforms, whether with quizzes, live video sessions or other forms of content. The reporting functionality allows L&D decision-makers to see which content works best.

Simplify administration of training
Happy charity workers collectively working

Charities with staff spread out across large geographical regions will know the challenges this can bring to training. With e-learning, however, there is no need to gather staff all in one place at the same time as powerful automation tools allow you to train charity staff and volunteers in different topics and different times, regardless of location.

Easily create learning content
Easily create learning content
  • Totara Learn’s drag and drop functionality enables you to upload resources including documents, images, audio and video files.
  • Allow users to create and develop their own wikis, blogs and forums.
  • Web pages, links and course instructions can be quickly and easily added using the fully featured editing tool.
  • Trainers can create adapting and branching lesson activities and build searchable glossaries and databases.
  • Quizzes, polls and assignments can be added to a course for assessment of existing knowledge or evaluation of new skills.

    With Hubken Group, you’ll get access to a wide range of rich and interactive HTML5 content tools such as interactive video, presentations, games, image hotspots, branching video and 360 virtual tours.

Ready to get started with e-learning?

Learning Management Systems

You can make use of an LMS to not only administrate and distribute formal training online, but also to report on results and, if necessary, prove that compliance regulations are being met.

A charity LMS could bridge many of the skill gaps facing charities and their staff. 

Our LMSs are Totara Learn, Totara Learn Professional and Moodle.

Key features available:

Compliance tracking

Automated rule-based allocation 

Skills and competency frameworks

Advanced custom reporting

Multi-tenancy for multiple groups

Offline event booking

Totara Talent Experience Platform (TXP) Suite

The TXP brings together three systems to help you revolutionise the way you train, manage and develop your people – Totara Learn (LMS), Totara Engage (LXP) and Totara Perform.

With a charity TXP, you would be able to offer informal learning spaces to support the concept of ‘learning on the job’, as well as monitor staff performance to identify development needs.

Key features available:

All our LMS features

Content curation from any channel

Collaborative workspaces

Employee performance reviews

Flexible check-ins with evidence area

Appraisals with 360-degree feedback

Read our charity e-learning case studies

Princess Alice Hospice

The charity recognised a strong requirement for courses to be made available online. Moodle LMS met all the requirements for Princess Alice Hospice, and the open-source solution has enabled them to save money.

LGBT Youth Scotland

Even before Covid-19 the charity wanted to develop an online community to reach the isolated LGBTI young people. Partnered with Hubken, LGBT Youth Scotland created a Moodle LMS to bring their services online.

Not sure what e-learning product you need?

Since 2004 we’ve helped countless organisations to achieve effective e-learning, including many charities across the UK. Use our free 'yes or no' survey to see which Hubken product is right for you!

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