Editorial feature: online learning opportunities for fundraisers

Howard Lake | 16 November 2020 | Blogs

This week’s editorial focus is online learning and how that has developed substantially in the months since the COVID19 pandemic struck and forced overnight changes in working practice for most of us.
Online learning options have been available to fundraisers for around 10 years or so. They’ve tended to consist primarily of live or recorded webinars. Over recent years these have expanded to events, usually a stream of related webinar-type presentations, such as the Resource Alliance’s annual Fundraising Online conference. This is an appropriately online event, provided at no charge, providing content on a range of digital fundraising skills and opportunities.
Here is a summary of some of the different online learning opportunities for fundraisers.

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Academic institutions

Universities and academic institutions have provided online learning platforms for their students for some years. Of course, in 2020 that expanded considerably and rapidly.
In the UK these include:
The Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, lead by Dr Beth Breeze. During lockdown earlier this year they also offered their ‘MA in a day‘ course publicly for free, offering “some resources, ideas and information that are normally only available to registered students”. 
• University of Chichester – The university is home to the ‘world’s only undergraduate degree in fundraising’. The BA in Charity Development is a three-year course available on campus, online or both.
The Centre for Charity Effectiveness at City Business School in London offers a range of professional development programmes, charities master’s programmes, and consultancy and business services. It has also been the home for 25 years of Charity Talks.

Sector training providers

Many of the charity sector’s infrastructure and training bodies have been offering online learning and training since before 2020, and have since then expanded their offering. These include:
CFRE – the “independent nonprofit organisation whose sole mission is dedicated to setting standards in philanthropy through a valid and reliable certification process for fundraising professionals”.

Directory of Social Change – offering online training in fundraising, finance and law, management, leadership, governance, marketing and more.

Chartered Institute of Fundraising – offering training, qualifications events and resources for fundraisers.


Other training and learning providers

Blackbaud Europe offers training and information via webinars and via its bbcon event, which this year took part globally, exclusively online and at no charge.
Salesforce also offers training and webinars to charities in the UK and around the world.

Online clubs and networks

A number of fundraising consultants and agencies have set up membership-based networks for online learning and training.
• Sean Triner at Moceanic has offered such a service for several years in the form of his Fundraisingology Lab.
• Lucy Gower offers the Lucidity Network, focusing on a network of members who provide support to each other, plus online training from Lucy and guest presenters.
• Rob Woods’ Bright Spot network also offers training, coaching and inspiration.

New approaches

The past year has seen a growing range of new entrants or approaches to online learning.
Fundraising Everywhere launched before COVID19 in November 2019 with a novel and much-needed transformation for online learning and training for fundraisers. Together with its Everywhere+ function, the platform has hosted well over 200 events of its own and for other charity clients. It adds a sense of online community to its events and after they have finished, insists on sharing pre-recorded sessions (to achieve a high quality level) but with the trainer engaging live in the chat or rooms of the event, and has expanded the range of topics addressed, not least by the inaugural BAME fundraising conference.
The video-based experience isn’t for everyone. Text-based learning is another approach that is used by many charities although probably very few fundraisers. Platforms like Arist.co work with various NGOs to deliver training, usually in the form of a single SMS text per day over a set period, one week or up to a month. It offers a manageable way of learning for many. It is ideal for those that don’t have the bandwidth to learn from video-heavy content.
UK Fundraising has published a course on this platform covering How to create news releases that work.

More training resources

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