4 Stages of Scaling Nonprofit Program Learning

by Extension Engine | August 6, 2019

Estimated time to read: minutes

Your nonprofit exists because of your desire to make a positive change in the world. But as many a leader has discovered, strong communication is key to successfully implementing your great idea. Online learning can help by offering support to your programs, clarifying your goals, and improving your outcomes. The key to success is finding an efficient, scalable way to deliver this learning.

Current approaches to program learning

Once your nonprofit has clarified its mission, you need to be able to share it with the world through a type of training we call “program learning.” The goal is to present scalable, attractive, and engaging learning that delivers your program to various groups of people. The following three approaches to program learning have been typical for decades and often are used in this order:

  1. The personal, high-touch approach involves face-to-face learning, making it an effective relationship builder. It lets you see people react to your program in real time so that you can test ideas, change things that don’t work, and get immediate feedback. Unfortunately, this approach isn’t scalable due to the limits of time, space, and resources. It also doesn’t give you any data or analytics to use to improve your program or show to donors as evidence of what you’re achieving.

  2. Website development provides many more opportunities for scale, because you can organize and post all of your program materials in one easily accessible place. Theoretically, people can get everything they need, giving you unlimited reach. But this approach is DIY and static. The user has to do everything without interaction with you, and if your site isn’t well designed, it may be confusing, no matter how many great articles, videos, and PDFs you provide. As with the first approach, there are no data or analytics.

  3. A learning management system (LMS) organizes the static content on your website. It provides clear pathways through your content and adds functionalities that can make navigating it feel like a game. You can get some data and analytics this way, too, but eventually the LMS will prevent growth. It’s not branded to your nonprofit, so it feels generic and may be clunky to use. There are hundreds of options, but each has limits to its functionality, in addition to pricey licensing fees. 

Our improved approach: Custom Learning Experiences

Where does your nonprofit’s learning fall in the above list? Many programs are stuck at the website or LMS stage because they don’t know what comes next. It’s important to start with those options while you’re at the information-gathering stage, but after that, it’s time to move on.

Enter the Custom Learning Experience — an online learning experience that is designed and built specifically for your organization.

The digital transformation of learning in our modern age is about taking everything that works well from your in-person or website-based experience and creating a digital learning experience that reflects your mission, goals, desired outcomes, and brand. In the end, you fundamentally rethink and rework your learning program. In this way, you can combine all that’s best about the other learning approaches and develop a transformative system focused on what’s special about your organization, customized to reach your specific goals, and targeted to get your defined outcomes. This results in an experience that is:

  • Personalized to your program
  • Fully flexible to meet your needs
  • Branded to your mission, outreach, and organization
  • Focused on exactly what you need to deliver
With a Custom Learning Experience, you get what you need. Your tailored program also comes with analytics, reporting, and feedback so that you can improve your program and show donors how you’re getting your message out.

Keep learning

If you’re ready to fundamentally rethink your learning program, check out this white paper about the stages of online learning for nonprofits: The Challenge of Scaling Learning as Part of a Nonprofit Program. Then consider the Custom Learning Experience we can provide. True online learning that empowers and motivates your supporters is within your reach.

[WHITE PAPER COVER] The Challenge of Scaling Learning as Part of a Nonprofit Program



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