I am so pleased to have Matt Hugg’s guest blog for today. His message of learning really resonates with me and I know it will with you too. Please comment below and let me know what you think!

The demands of today’s nonprofit workplace are unimaginably high. Even if you want to do everything, and have the time to meet every demand, how do you even come close to learning how to do it? You can’t hire a specialist for everything. You’d have no money for your mission!

It’s easy to feel defeated. “I’m not ‘techie’ enough.” “I’m too old.” “I’m not experienced enough.” Just fill in your own self-deprecating reason here: ______________!

The easy path is to give up. But you can’t! There’s a hugely important mission to serve, and— despite all the problems and complications— if you’re not there, the problem is only going to get worse.

So how do you keep up with what’s needed without burning yourself out?

It’s time to take a power that’s used against you every day, the power that seems to keep you on an ever-accelerating treadmill, and use it for good. It’s time to use technology to fight technology. It’s time to meet the demands of today’s nonprofit workplace by embracing your own demands: on-demand training! 

I’m not going to tell you that traditional models of learning are bad. A great high school education is a necessity, and learning to combine new concepts and explore your passions  defines an excellent college experience. Maybe you went on to specialize in a graduate program and keep up with the latest by attending seminars through your professional association membership.

Yet no amount of formal education can prepare you for all you need to do in today’s nonprofit work environment.

So, how do you keep up with all you need to know, especially in a cash-strapped nonprofit? How can you make a major difference in the life of your board, volunteers and colleagues, and the lives of those you serve?

Ensure constant learning, share knowledge, and keep up with the ever-changing facets of technology.

A culture of learning is when staff (along with board members and volunteers) are encouraged (and possibly rewarded) for their initiative. This way, your team can find and bring new ideas to your nonprofit that improve efficiency, reduce costs and support your mission. It starts with recognition by your nonprofit’s leadership that continual learning is valid, cost efficient and key to your organization’s survival.

A culture of learning runs deep, beyond the requirements or the college-educated staff. For example, when was the last time an admin learned a new software program, or a maintenance worker learned a new cleaning technique?

Everyone’s brain is stimulated by learning – and brains stimulated by learning lead to people who want to stay for more. That can cut down on staff turnover, which every nonprofit HR director will tell you keeps costs down. Plus, employees learning how to use resources more efficiently saves time on the job, and that’s money in your nonprofit’s pocket.

If you haven’t already, we strongly recommend implementing a culture of learning within your nonprofit – and you’ll see the difference it can make with your own eyes!