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What benefits does a new LMS need to bring to your nonprofit to make it a worthwhile investment? The answer to that all-important question depends on the features you look for in your new online training system.
What Nonprofits Need To Know Before Choosing An LMS
Nonprofits are closer to getting value for money than any other organization. There is no room for error and no place for system implementation without clear planning. When looking for a new LMS, the online training system needs to provide everything they need to transform their training environment. There should not be a huge administrative burden, as head office staff can be already stretched. It’s a tall order, but if you’re clear on the features you need, you can be well-prepared for supplier discussions. A well-integrated LMS can be the driving force behind an organized and effective nonprofit organization. In this article, I’ll focus on the advantages an LMS can bring, as well as the top LMS features for nonprofits that you should consider when choosing your new Learning Management System.
Why Nonprofits Need An LMS
- Centralizing online training resources through the LMS reduces online training costs and dramatically increases training capability, thereby, allowing you to reach a global member base and provide localized training. For example, you can deliver culturally appropriate content that resonates with remote teams on a personal level.
- An LMS allows the organization to prepare members, volunteers and staff in advance, helping set clear expectations. This in turn provides more time for real-world application and reduces the time needed for training. This way, members can advocate for your nonprofit and achieve the objectives, instead of devoting all their time to L&D. Better trained employees and members are more easily retained.
- An automated training process with streamlined reporting significantly reduces the administrative burden on the head office of each training program.
- Your online training system supports compliance with legal obligations by easily tracking the completion of essential training.
Essential LMS Features For Nonprofits
Learning That Works With A Dispersed Member Community
1. Social Learning
Look for an online training system that supports social platforms so that learners can connect with one another. Employees, members and volunteers in nonprofits can often feel disconnected, so social learning is important in bringing people together. It also allows them to share their experiences to improve performance across the board.
2. Responsive LMS
Learners should be able to access training materials anytime, regardless of their mobile device preferences or regional COVID restrictions. A responsive system gives them the opportunity to get the just-in-time support they need from anywhere in the globe. The platform automatically displays the most suitable version of the online course so that everyone gets the best online training experience.
Engaging Learning To Encourage Members, Volunteers, And Employees
3. Interactive eLearning
Ensure your LMS supports interactive elements, such as simulations and branching scenarios. These interactive learning experiences help prepare the employee/volunteer for the inherent uncertainty of the role, as well as put everything in a practical context so that they can build vital skills and avoid common mistakes.
4. Intuitive Interface
Look for an LMS with the ability to customize so that the learning environment is seamless for the rest of the organization. Ensure you are happy with the User Interface so that there is no need to train on the LMS. There may not be room in your timeline—or budget—for a steep learning curve.
5. Translation Capabilities
If your team is global, look for easily replicated materials to support multiple languages. The system should automatically display the most suitable version of the course based on the user’s location as well as give them the opportunity to personalize their language preferences.
6. Easily Transfer/Recreate Existing Materials
You don’t want to waste a penny on online training materials that have served you well in the past. Thus, one of the key LMS features for nonprofits is the ability to repurpose and revise what you already have. Ensure your supplier demonstrates that existing materials can be easily uploaded.
Reduced Administrative Burden
7. Easy Administration Of User Details
Ensure that access to the Learning Management System and editing user details is straightforward. This will help your staff easily allow access for new members and remove inactive members from the system. This way, users can get started on their online training as quickly as possible.
8. Self-Registration For Learning Courses
Look for a self-registration feature so that volunteers can manage their own skills. This reduces the need for an LMS administrator, although you can still restrict certain online courses.
9. Automatic Course Assignment Based On Roles
Ensure your LMS is structured around roles and competencies, so that appropriate training can be automatically assigned to new starters. For example, members that are new to your organization can be assigned your onboarding course to learn all the essentials, from basic rights to voting-in board members.
10. Automated Reporting
Good reporting is the backbone of a reliable LMS. Ensure you have access to the right dashboards and scheduled reports to make the reporting process easy and accurate. This allows you to identify areas for improvement to enhance resource allocation and provide users with targeted support tools.
11. Comprehensive Pricing Model
Look for support, maintenance, and updates to be included in the LMS pricing model. This may make the initial cost higher but will reduce any ongoing or hidden costs.
12. Integration With Existing Systems
Your LMS should integrate smoothly with existing recruitment, performance management, and time recording systems. This will reduce the risk of inaccuracies and improve the efficiency of all your learning tools. You don’t want to have to foot the bill for replacement tools that don’t mesh with your new online training platform.
The benefits a nonprofit organization brings to society are many and important. Likewise, the benefits an LMS should bring can be the essence of a well-run community of paid and unpaid employees and volunteers. Without these key LMS features for nonprofits, the online training program for dispersed employees, members and volunteers can be expensive and difficult to administer. A comprehensive strategy for supporting the way the organization learns and reducing the burden on head office staff is vital. When choosing a new LMS, make sure your nonprofit is prepared for change, growth, and shifts. After all, the business of nonprofits is centered around educating members and driving industry initiatives improving the lives of others, so everyone involved should feel equipped with the right skills.
About the Author
Christopher Pappas is the Founder of eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning field. Christopher holds an MBA and an M.Ed. (Learning Design) from BGSU.