Find the best LMS for Nonprofits
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Nonprofit organizations have the same training needs as large or small businesses. They need to share their objectives, best practices, code of conduct etc., with volunteers, donors and support staff. They also need to build exceptional engagement skills in their volunteers, so that the staff can develop strong connections with the community.
Unfortunately, nonprofits lack the resources and budget to organize regular training sessions, which require hiring trainers, booking venues to host training, funding travel etc. However, they can make training accessible to their whole staff and cheaper by using a learning management system (LMS).
LMS for nonprofits helps them create and assign training programs to a group or individual by role and requirement. The tool offers mobile learning and social learning capabilities, which allow learners to access the training materials on their own time and convenience.
What could be challenging for nonprofits is finding the right LMS tool among the hundreds in the market. Knowing which features you need and understanding the benefits to be gained will help you purchase the right tool. To help you out, we have listed the features, benefits and important considerations when choosing an LMS.
Here's what we'll cover:
What Is LMS for Nonprofits?
LMS for nonprofits is software that helps you create, schedule and manage online training content for donors, community members, staff and volunteers on any device.
The tool automates the training process, which allows employees to learn on their own time, at any location and on any device. This saves your nonprofit essential time and money that could be spent on fundraising. For instance, you can schedule automatic email reminders for staff who need to complete compliance training such as against discrimination or harassment.
The software also allows trainers to assess learner skills with the help of online quizzes and tests. They can also build reports to analyze the success of the skill development programs.
The LMS features dashboard in ScriptoPro (Source)
Common Features of LMS for Nonprofits
In this section, we cover the key software features that a buyer should be aware of before purchasing a solution. Most nonprofit organizations will need some (or all) of these features in their LMS:
Helps users define course objectives, administer course enrollments and manage content distribution.
Tracks the progress of learners in the administered courses and programs.
Allows users to create or customize their own content using multimedia images, videos and other engaging elements.
Allows users to create quizzes that gauge learner knowledge or skill. This feature also includes reporting functionality to identify skill gaps.
Lets users access online training courses on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Provides a prebuilt library of training courses for general training requirements (e.g., NGO management).
Allows learners to share course ratings, comments, and discuss ideas on course forums.
Certification and compliance management
Helps trainers generate certificates on course completion and manage compliance training/programs as per the standards and policies of a specific industry.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Before you start shortlisting LMS vendors , you need to understand the type of buyer you are based on your training needs. This will help you analyze all the available options and prioritize software features as "must-have" and "optional."
In this section, we've categorized buyers into two main groups:
Charitable organizations: These buyers provide their staff specific training on budgeting and fundraising, business awareness, social guidelines etc. Seventy-five percent of charitable organizations believe that improving digital skills will help them increase fundraising.
But they have tight training budgets and lack the resources to organize training events. The right LMS can help them organize online workshops to train staff who are in different locations. Staff can log into the LMS tool and attend virtual training events or watch the recordings/videos of training programs.
Advocacy groups: They provide education, certification and advocacy on behalf of various industries and charitable organizations. To succeed in their mission, advocacy groups need to provide instructional material and certification courses to deprived people who are in need of employment. An LMS tool with built-in course authoring functionality can help them create and customize courses. They can also develop online assessments to test a learner's practice skills.
Benefits of LMS for Nonprofits
LMS tools for nonprofits make it easy to disseminate knowledge and train volunteers, investors and other important members. Here are some of the benefits that nonprofits can reap by using the tool:
Better fundraising skills: LMS tools can help nonprofits create, store and leverage training courses for critical skills to do various tasks such as writing grant proposals and managing budgets. Trained volunteers who possess these skills tend to raise more funds than untrained ones.
Lower training costs: Using LMS eliminates the need to specially organize training events as learners have access to training anytime, anywhere. You save the costs of hiring trainers, booking venues to host the training and paying for the travel or food expenses.
Greater compliance to regulations: LMS tools help nonprofits stay up-to-date on required legal compliance and clearances for their volunteers and staff. The software allows them to track which volunteer needs to complete a certification and then schedule automatic reminders to do said task.
Key Considerations for Nonprofits
Selecting software requires you to consider various factors such as the features your nonprofit can't do without. Do you need multi-device training material or multi-lingual courses? Which features are absolutely essential and are they affordable?
These are among the few questions you should be asking yourself and the vendor. Here are some other factors that should influence your purchasing decision:
Medium of content delivery: LMS tools offer training content in two modes. The first is virtual instructor-led training (VILT), where learners connect to the training program remotely in a virtual classroom. The other is online self-paced training, where learners watch videos, take quizzes, and submit assessments online at their own convenience. Assess which medium suits your nonprofit's training requirements best and shortlist vendors who offer your preferred medium.
Compliance with e-learning technical standards: The tool should support the e-learning content standards of Aviation Industry Computer-based Training Committee (AICC) and Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). These compliance standards are mandatory technical specifications for standardizing the integration of e-learning content with other LMSs.
Budget constraints and scalability: The LMS should fit your budget and not have any hidden costs. Sign up for free trials and demos, which will help you understand how an LMS works. Most tools offer free trials for 14 to 30 days. Shortlist a few tools that meet most, if not all, of your needs. Also, ensure that the tool is scalable in terms of number of licenses/users, so that you can add new learners without having to pay a lot of money every time.