How to better support development and at lower cost, with free charity trustee, management, staff and volunteer training courses, including online and fundraising. Lots of ideas and links to free training & development courses.
Just booking charity trustees and volunteers on free training courses only works really well when you've thought about what you need, and they might want. Consequently, the first sections in this resource provide simple steps in planning your training.
Training courses and investing in developing your people is critical, but just part of running a succesful charity. You can assess every aspect of your charity, including how well you lead and manage your people. Each of the 8 online questionnaires takes just 30 mins and you'll have access to its huge resources base, Funding Finder database and 50+ funder lists.
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We have very few resources, but one huge asset - our people. Supporting staff, trustees and other volunteers to develop is an investment, not a cost. But, we're all time poor and money's short. This article provides advice on how to get the most from your limited time and money, including links to a variety of free training courses.
We've little money or time, so spend a bit of time thinking about how to get the very best out of investing in you people.
For staff, it goes without saying that a structured appraisal and development process is essential to the above. It doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated, but you do have to make time to genuinely engage and listen to individuals, not just chat and fill the paperwork in. You'll find appraisal guides and templates in the CEF People questionnaire, if you need these.
We've too little funding and time, so focus your effort on where you will get most from that, by being clear on where your charity needs to invest most in developing skills and experience.
Everyone should have the opportunity to undertake development, but the funds and time available are limited. More importantly, people already have busy lives and not everyone wants to be a CEO. Mandatory training aside, make sure that what you're offering people is what they actually want, so everyone gets the most from it.
As part of this, review the individual’s performance in the light of his or her next year’s objectives, to identify any skill gaps or opportunities to develop.
Training courses, such as learning how to carry out risk assessments or use Excel, are useful for teaching people techniques. However, often what they need/want is as much about developing their experience as learning techniques. How to do it, rather than what to do.
I'm Scottish, I like free.
Free or Low Cost Training. Many organisations run free, or at least low-cost training. It's often management who attend, but it doesn't have to be. Try the FSI (small charities) for face-to-face training and workshops, but there are lots more.
Free Events & Seminars. Many of the commercial companies working in the sector run free events/seminars. I've recently been to seminars on innovation, social media, IP and contracts - all free. Try BDB and BWB for legal, or RSM and CCW for finance, amongst many others.
Free Online Learning. The Open University Open Learn programme has a whole series of free online training courses, of up to 8 weeks, including on the voluntary sector, finance and team working, with free participation statements. Or Kent University for more online courses, including fundraising.
Online training/videos. The CEF You Tube channel has 'How To' videos on a range of issues. All very short, all very practical.
The opportunities above aside, the Charity Excellence You Tube channel has various playlists, including governance and strategy. You can use these to create your own trustee training and new trustee induction programme.
ICAEW's online training modules provide an overview of charity trustees’ legal and financial responsibilities and their strategic and operational considerations.
Or for an introduction to purpose, finance, conflicts of interest, decisions, support and safeguarding try the Charity Commission 5 minute guides.
Fundraising training courses can be expensive, but there a lot of fundraising training resources, courses and help available for free, or at very low cost.
Here are some organisations that support specific communities.
You don't need to know anything about fundraising to use the CEF and you'll learn and be given new ideas as you use it. The income questionnaire will lead you through the fundraising process and connect you to a wide range of resources and people who will help you. Everything is free.
Here are some Charity Excellence fundraising skills training resources:
Is usually less expensive than coaching and is often free. WCOMC offer Chair and CEO/Exec mentoring and, for small charities, there’s also the Cranfield Trust. The Small Charities Coalition offer skill sharing and volunteer mentors (I used to be one). If you're a social entrpreeur, try Expert Impact's Human Lending Library. I used them and they were brilliant. Or there's the Gunnercooke Foundation.
Then there's the Elisher Foundation and TPP for fundraisers. If you're in charity retail, the CRA have a mentoring platform and Charity Comms offer a mentoring service for their members. And, why not consider becoming a mentor yourself? I've gained at least as much myself, as I've given others. We all have a responsibility to help bring on the leaders and experts of tomorrow.
You know your people and charity really well, so why not do it yourself? It's very low cost, flexible and you might even be able to use it as team development at the same time?
I'm ex-Armed Forces and have often been surprised at just how hierarchical some charities are. Yet, it's not difficult to give people a real say in your charity and develop them at the same time.
In-house - Presentations. Invite a member of staff to present a paper, or talk about their work, at an exec/board level meeting, to give both him/her and them better insight into each other's work. It's also a good way to begin to improve diversity by getting young people, or individuals from a minority into a room of too often older, often white men like myself.
In-house - Meetings. Inviting them to attend a meeting for a different function, helps to expand their experience and break down/prevent silo working.
Learn ahead of the curve. If you have a new project, find an organisation that's further down the road, or already doing it well and arrange a visit, or to attend their project meetings. Learn good ideas and from their mistakes, rather than make them yourself.
Let Them Step-up. Give an individual a project to lead in an area in which they have a particular interest, allow him/her to chair meetings or participate in recruitment interviews. But, make sure it isn't just tokenism. Mentor them in their role and make sure that you actively engage and involve them during meetings/interviews.
And mentoring isn't telling someone what to do. It's about offering examples from your own experience, suggesting ideas and asking them questions to help them, but always allowing them to make their own decisions.
If you're up for it, go the whole hog and hand over control. Identify a project, invite junior people to create a team, provide a budget, if appropriate and let them do it.
As an example, when we wanted to look at how to make the office layout and set-up work better, I invited junior representatives from each area to do it. They were given a clear objective, boundaries and a budget, I attended the first meeting to facilitate a discussion on how they would manage the process, allocate responsibilities and make decisions, and agree a timetable, actions etc. After that, I was available for advice, but left them to it.
It worked really well, once they got the hang of it and understood they really were allowed to make decisions, although some of the exec team were very uncomfortable about it. A learning opportunity for them too.
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