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3 Ideas for Encouraging Continuous Learning at Your Nonprofit

The nonprofit landscape is always shifting. That means that nonprofit teams have to continuously build new skills to help their organizations respond to emerging challenges and meet fresh needs.

To make that possible, leaders must intentionally foster a culture of continuous learning at their organizations. That requires more than just providing learning resources and asking employees to use them. A true learning culture is one in which everyone—from the top down—understands the true value of learning and is always looking for ways to explore new ideas, expand their mindset, and pick up new skills. 

Here are a few strategies that can help you embed learning at the heart of your nonprofit’s culture.

1. Highlight the link between learning and career growth

When people are busy, hearing that they need to take a course or attend a training session can seem like an unnecessary burden. But learning initiatives aren’t just good for organizations—they’re good for employees, too. By creating a tangible link between the resources you provide and employees’ professional development, you can encourage staff to engage with learning on an ongoing basis—and show them you’re invested in helping them grow their careers.

Using LinkedIn Learning, you can create custom Learning Paths that are tailored to an individual employee or team’s needs. Let’s say you find out during a one-on-one that an employee is interested in transitioning into a new role within the organization. You could create a Learning Path that compiles courses around the skills they’ll need to make that leap, providing a tangible path forward. Recognizing and rewarding learning efforts in performance conversations can also help to reaffirm the link between learning and career development in employees’ minds, encouraging them to make learning a priority. 

2. Enlist the help of managers across the organization

Managers play a critical role in embedding the idea of continuous learning in a nonprofit’s culture. It’s not enough for one manager to be passionate about learning: to really take hold, it has to be at the forefront of conversations across the organization.

Make sure that every manager knows what learning resources are available to employees—and why fostering a culture of continuous learning is a priority. Then, encourage them to explore these resources themselves. This will make it easier for them to share specific recommendations with their team or even talk openly about what they’re learning and encourage employees to do the same. You could also set learning goals for each team, signaling to managers that your organization truly values learning and providing a mechanism to hold them accountable for promoting it.

3. Provide the space for employees to learn on the job

Saying you want a culture of continuous learning is one thing—but if employees don’t feel like they have the time or space to learn at work, they may question how much you truly value it. Since learning and development efforts are, at their core, about equipping your nonprofit with the skills it needs to navigate future challenges, employees shouldn’t have to learn in their spare time. 

Talk to your people to find out how and when they’d like to learn. Would they like to have a certain number of hours each month, for example, that they can dedicate solely to learning, allowing them to learn on a project-needs basis? Or, would they prefer their team to dedicate a couple of days each month or each quarter to learning new skills together? Figure out how learning will fit into employees’ day-to-day work and set goals around that. From there, you can also consider giving your workforce open access to learning resources at any hour of the day or night, enabling team members to pursue new skills at their leisure if they choose. But without empowering them to learn on the job, continuous learning will never become a pillar of your culture.

Learn and grow together

Investing in learning is an investment in your nonprofit’s future. By embedding it in your organizational culture early, employees will already be on board and excited to learn when you really need them to. 

To learn more about how LinkedIn Learning can meet your nonprofit’s learning needs, contact our team

This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Learning Blog article “Boost Learner Engagement with Personalized Learning: 3 Tips for L&D Leaders,” authored by Laurie Moot.

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