Skip to main content


By May 22, 2019June 13th, 2022No Comments

By Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Here’s the challenge and curse of running a nonprofit: So much to do, and so little time and money to do it. Always, the mission’s the thing; and anything that doesn’t seem to further the mission directly, like staff and management development, often gets short shrift.

But that’s short thinking, says Beth Schecter, a nonprofit management consultant.

“Training is very important to the nonprofit sector, perhaps even more important than to the private sector,” Schecter says. “In some ways, nonprofits that receive government funding are more highly scrutinized than for-profit companies. That’s why managers and staff must have the training and support they need. “

Unfortunately, however, nonprofit executives too often fail to make staff development a priority.

A Philanthropy Journal article looked at the 2011 “Daring to Lead” report and found that more than half of nonprofit executives surveyed said their organization underperformed when it came to staff development because it was not “a strategic priority.”

It may be time to change those priorities.

How staff and management training further your mission

Training helps you retain employees

LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report showed that 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.

Since a large chunk of soft expenses for nonprofits relates to staffing, a nonprofit could save money by devoting funds to training. The employee you keep is less expensive than the new employee you must bring up to speed.

Training helps you stay relevant

Training enables your staff to stay current on the latest technology and theories, the newest and best ways of doing things.

For instance, think about how social media has changed the way nonprofits spread their message. And social media changes every minute. Facebook’s the thing; no, now it’s Instagram. And by the time you finish reading this, some new social media thing will be king.

The world moves fast, and training helps your staff stay up to date.

Ways to stretch your training buck

You don’t have to stretch your budget to afford staffing training.

Exploit in-house resources

You can provide opportunities that encourage employees to tackle projects outside of their comfort zone, where they’ll learn new skills. Just make sure you support efforts with coaching and feedback.

You can mentor less experienced employees, which helps them identify passions, weaknesses, skill gaps, and pathways to career success.

Identify training groups that give nonprofits a break

Service organizations exist – nonprofits helping nonprofits – that offer free, low-cost, or sliding-fee training for nonprofit employers.

Check out the Foundation Center, BoardSource, and CompassPoint.

Other places that aid staff development for free include:

(Image credit: Ryderwear / Ryan McGuire from Pixabay)

501c Services newsletter sign up - popup graphic envelope letter

Keep up with
the news

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for timely updates, news, and events.