As a nonprofit professional, you know how important it is to continue learning about the field through educational resources. Due to the growth of and advancement in technology, frequently changing trends, and adjustments in the fields of marketing and public relations, if you’re not learning in the field, you’re likely falling behind.
Have you ever seen your teacher, parent, or grandparent try to adapt to new technology? You may have watched them struggle to use the latest iPhone app or maybe they asked for help to download new software on their computer. It’s hard to continue learning in these quickly advancing fields!
While individuals may find learning in these fields difficult, there’s no excuse for your organization to stop learning. Whether it’s new technology or implementing the latest trends, there is someone at your organization who can help you expand your knowledge. When you aren’t continuously learning, your organization cannot take advantage of the latest information that can help you advance your mission.
Providing opportunities to learn is a strategy that nonprofits often overlook due to limited funding. But when you invest in effective development opportunities for yourself and your team members, you provide the resources necessary for them to improve their skills and to grow your organization.
But how can you encourage their learning?
To help you answer this question, we’ve compiled our favorite (and affordable) professional development resources that you can use to help your staff continue their training in the field. We’ve split these resources into the following categories:
After we’ve provided our recommendations, we’ll dive a little deeper into the advantages that you’ll find when you invest properly in nonprofit professional development opportunities.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Online Resources for Nonprofit Professional Development
Our Favorite Resource: Leaderosity Learning Library
The Leaderosity Library provides online courses that guide nonprofit professionals through a variety of subjects within the field. Because these courses are on-demand, learners have the opportunity to work on their coursework wherever they are and at their own pace.
Plus, L3 is updated every month so there are always new subjects to learn about. Because of this, you can rest assured that you’re receiving the latest in nonprofit trends and information.
Some of the many course options you can find as a part of L3 include:
- Ethical Leadership for Social Impact
- The Equity Journey
- Crisis Communications for Nonprofit Leaders
- Designing Nonprofit Programs
The best part? This resource is incredibly affordable at only $29.99 per month (or $19.99 monthly if you go ahead and sign up for the annual subscription).
Certified Nonprofit Professional Credential Program
If you’re looking for a comprehensive advancement opportunity for you or your staff, the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) Credential Program is the way to go. This program is designed for individuals working to enhance their own professional credibility and continue learning in the sector.
Not only does the program provide learning opportunities, but it also allows you to network with other nonprofit professionals, attend the ELEVATE conference, and become certified in the sector for life. You can contact the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance for pricing and to register for this program.
Nonprofit Resource Library
If you’re interested in reading blog articles, reports, videos, and other resources focused on nonprofit sector trends, diversity, fundraising, learning opportunities, and remote work, The Alliance’s Nonprofit Resource Library is the best option for you to continue learning.
This resource is especially helpful if you have specific questions in the sector and want to do some spot learning rather than cover a complete course. You’ll find plenty of articles, so you can learn about the subjects that most interest you. You can access this library of articles here.
Elevate Virtual Conference
Virtual conferences are incredible opportunities for professionals to learn from others, network, ask questions, and share their own experiences. Elevate is a conference specifically for nonprofit sector leaders, designed to provide information around workforce trends, leadership, and advocacy for nonprofits. You can access conference materials from the safety of your home, too!
Elevate is hosted by the professionals at The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. You’ll have access to a number of speakers, live sessions, discussion boards, and more during this event.
Tips to Leverage Online Resources
Carefully consider what it is you’re trying to accomplish when you invest in online resources. There are plenty of blogs and online articles that you can read for free (like those offered in the DEI Resource Library). Generally, these are great opportunities for spot learning. If you have a specific question, they can generally be answered in a concise blog post or report.
However, if you’re looking for a more structured learning environment, you’ll benefit from courses that are planned out and offer diverse and engaging learning materials. From videos to dynamic and interactive content, you’ll have a more immersive experience that promotes deeper learning opportunities.
After you’ve determined what it is you want to get out of the experience, consider how much time and funding you have available to learn. You may ask yourself questions like:
- Do I need to answer a pressing question today? Or do I have a few weeks or months to dive deeper into the subject as a whole?
- Am I looking to enhance only my own professional development? Or would my entire team benefit from additional training?
- What is my nonprofit’s budget for providing these opportunities? Or am I making a personal investment and paying out of pocket?
By asking yourself these questions, you’ll find the online learning resource perfect for meeting your specific needs.
Due to the global pandemic, individuals and organizations everywhere are taking advantage of the work-from-home lifestyle to enhance their learning using digital tools. However, digital nonprofit professional development has its place both in the new normal and in post-pandemic society. Consider the option carefully and make an investment that will make a long-lasting impact.
Books for Nonprofit Professional Development
The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management
This handbook that was written by David O. Renz is the fourth edition of the bestselling nonprofit management reference and text called the “big green book.”
Based on updated research, theory, and experience, this comprehensive edition offers practical advice on managing nonprofit organizations and addresses key aspects such as board development, strategic planning, lobbying, marketing, fundraising, volunteer management, financial management, risk management, and compensation and benefits.
Robots Make Bad Fundraisers
Written by Steven Shattuck, the Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang, Robots Make Bad Fundraisers discusses tried-and-true practices to develop relationships with your nonprofit’s supporters. Shattuck touches on segmentation in marketing, creating strong relationship foundations, and adding a personal touch to your outreach.
The book addresses the technological advancements in the nonprofit field, as well as how those advancements have done little to improve donor relations and retention. It lists steps you can take to leverage technology to improve productivity, but maintain the human element in donor communications.
Nonprofit Management: Nonprofit Principles and Practice
Michael J. Worth’s student-friendly best-seller, Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice, provides a broad, insightful overview of key topics affecting the governance and management of nonprofit organizations.
Worth covers the scope and structure of the nonprofit sector, leadership of nonprofits, managing the nonprofit organization, fundraising, earned income strategies, financial management, nonprofit lobbying and advocacy, managing international and global organizations, social entrepreneurship, and social innovation. Written specifically for students, this applied text balances research, theory, and practitioner literature, and is packed with current cases, timely examples, and accurate data.
Nonprofit Management 101
This book, edited by Darian Rodriguez Heyman, provides nonprofit professionals with the conceptual frameworks, practical knowledge, and concise guidance needed to succeed in the social sector.
Designed as a handbook, the book is filled with sage advice and insights from a variety of trusted experts. The advice is written to help nonprofit professionals prepare to achieve their organizational and personal goals, develop a better understanding of what they need to do to lead, support, and grow an effective organization.
Nonprofit Management 101 was written to inspire nonprofit professionals to lead the social good sector to greater success. It’s the perfect solution to help your management team to go back to the basics and build a stronger foundation for growing your organization.
Tips to Leverage Book Resources
While you’re welcome to read these books independently, we recommend that you organize a group to read and discuss the points of the books on a regular basis. This acts as a book club within your organization and you can make it optional or mandatory depending on the book you choose and your goals for your team.
The reason we recommend starting a book club is because it will help your team to better absorb the points of each book.
For instance, if you read about the different types of segments you can create in a donor database, you can collaborate on how the information plays into your own work. You can discuss as a group how the information applies to your own database, which segments your particular audience will respond most positively to, and what the best plan will be moving forward with your new information.
In addition to starting book clubs, you may use your book resources to:
- Mark chapters that will be particularly useful for certain positions at your organization. Then, lend the book to those individuals and ask them to read through it to make informed strategic adjustments in your organization management.
- Incorporate certain chapters into onboarding or coaching within your nonprofit. Existing training programs can be enhanced by including some additional facts and context if you find particularly relevant books or chapters.
No matter how you leverage books within your organization, whether to build out an existing training program or to develop a new one from scratch, it’s a great way to encourage your staff to continue learning. It’s an especially effective remote opportunity as everyone can read on their own time, then come together to discuss aspects of their reading over a video conference.
Journals for Nonprofit Professional Development
Nonprofit Quarterly is a regular magazine that covers the latest news, trends, and policies regarding philanthropic causes. The magazine is written by nonprofit experts who conduct research and report back to the readers in the form of comprehensive and approachable articles.
In addition to signing up for the Nonprofit Quarterly publication, you can gain access to their archive of information, webinars, and other resources to conduct research on interesting topics through their Leading Edge Membership.
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterl
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly provides a forum for researchers from around the world to publish timely articles from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The journal is published biweekly and provides peer-reviewed articles that cover various fields of research within the nonprofit field.
The data and expert analyses help professionals like yourself to better understand the direction the sector is heading in and its influence on society.
Nonprofit Management and Leadership
Sponsored by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Nonprofit Management & Leadership is a quarterly peer-reviewed journal. This journal covers the latest in nonprofit management, governance, and leadership for private nonprofit organizations.
The readership for this journal tends to be university academics and staff, organizational leaders, executives, and development professionals.
Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership
This quarterly journal’s mission is to improve nonprofit education and leadership through the publication and dissemination of peer-reviewed manuscripts centered on professional practice, research, and theoretical discussions. Manuscript submissions are encouraged from authors inside and outside of academia.
When you explore this journal, you’re likely to find information on topics such as governance, fundraising, volunteer management, philanthropy, program development, financial management, and more.
Tips to Leverage Journal Resources
While you may remember reading academic journals in school, most individuals don’t use them in their daily lives. However, keeping up with journals is a great way to stay up to date with the latest research in the sector. They provide a great opportunity to encourage ongoing training. Nonprofit professional development doesn’t necessarily need a firm beginning and end. Rather, it’s a process that should be progressively updated.
This makes regular journals a great option because you know that you’ll get the latest information and research in the newest publication.
We recommend leveraging journals as a part of your nonprofit professional development by:
- Sorting and categorizing valuable journal articles into categories so they can be leveraged in specific professional development programs.
- Encourage reading and discussion of articles from the latest issues. You may draw on examples from your own organization that also back up the latest research and find opportunities for improvement based on it.
- Adding a journal subscription as a staff benefit for working with your organization. This provides the opportunity for staff to subscribe and read the latest research without the pressure of the subscription fee.
The only downside with journal subscriptions is that some can be difficult to read due to their academic tone and research complexity. Be sure to consider carefully which journal will be the most accessible for you and others at your organization to read before you invest in one.
Advantages of Nonprofit Professional Development Opportunities
If you’ve never offered or taken advantage of professional development opportunities, you may be a little hesitant to invest in any of these solutions. Skeptics out there might be asking, “what will this investment actually accomplish?”
Well, there are a lot of advantages that accompany nonprofit professional development, some of which you may not have initially expected. Here are just some of the many benefits:
- Providing development opportunities for staff leads to increased employee satisfaction. In fact, 91% of Gen Z employees cite professional development as an important factor when choosing an employer. Therefore, it can help you avoid costly turnover while motivating your staff.
- Nonprofit professional development increases organizational efficiency. Greater efficiency creates a greater impact per resource spent toward your mission, leading to overall growth.
- Continuous training and development result in a greater social impact. As your organization creates stronger employees and individuals in the field, you’re developing social impact leaders. Whether the leaders make a difference as a part of your organization or as a part of another, their dedication to the nonprofit field makes the world a better place.
Here at the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, we understand the importance of developing leaders in the nonprofit sector. That’s why we offer our own nonprofit professional development resources for organizations and individuals like yourself. It’s our goal to provide these opportunities to help create a better world through education.
We designed resources like the Leaderosity Library and the CNP program to be approachable development opportunities that any and all nonprofit professionals can benefit from. Understandably, though, you should conduct research concerning the programs yourself. Therefore, we’ve provided additional research resources regarding nonprofit professional development below for your convenience:
- Employee Turnover Calculator. We mentioned that professional development opportunities boost engagement and retention rates for staff. See how much you could save with a lower employee turnover rate.
- Learning Management System for Nonprofits: A Complete Guide. If your organization already has courses available for employees, constituents, members, or volunteers, learn about how the right LMS can create a better learning experience.
- Leaderosity Library. As our favorite nonprofit professional development resource, we highly recommend that you take a look at all of the features, courses, and opportunities that come along with the Leaderosity Learning Library.