The following article highlights advice given by members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council, one member being our very own President Dr. Daniel A. Wubah. Continue reading below for advice for nonprofit leaders.
10 Ways Nonprofit Leaders Can Boost Their Team’s Current Skill Sets
Dec 1, 2022 08:15am EST
With work constantly changing in response to market fluctuations and tech solutions, upskilling is one way to ensure a business’s employees are ready for any challenge. Upskilling often entails investing in education, but these learning opportunities can sometimes come at a high cost. For nonprofits in particular, making these investments can be challenging if the organization doesn’t really have the funds to support additional training.
Fortunately, there are many different ways to nurture and enhance the skills of your team. Below, 10 members from Forbes Nonprofit Council each offer advice for nonprofit leaders seeking to boost their team’s current skills without breaking the bank.
1. Invest In Staff Growth Regardless Of Cost
I think we have to flip this narrative in the nonprofit space. Yes, there are free and cheap resources, but as leaders, we need to invest in our team’s growth. If we want our team to be prepared for the future, we must make space in our budgets in meaningful ways and demonstrate this is a priority for us. If we want to leverage their skills, we must help build them. – Jennifer Thompson, National Association of Social Workers New Jersey/Delaware
2. Establish A Learning Culture
Learning and development in the nonprofit space don’t always get the most attention because of the immense pressure of limited resources, even though we all recognize the importance of professional development. One recommendation is to establish a learning culture, which some companies do through “lunch and share” events. Consider hosting a monthly team lunch where everyone gets a chance to share something they read. – Dr. Lilian Ajayi-Ore, Global Connections for Women Foundation
3. Start An Internal Mentorship Program
Match teammates and have them provide mentorship. Peer-to-peer training is an ideal way to improve the skill sets of team members in a cost-effective manner. In most cases, your team members have varied skill sets that can be shared with one another. Not only will this approach upskill the team as a whole, but it will also create a peer-to-peer experience that has additional benefits for your nonprofit. – Victoria Burkhart, The More Than Giving Company
4. Maximize Board Engagement
Nonprofit leaders can maximize the engagement of their boards by asking board members or leveraging their firms to provide professional development that will entrench their connection to your organization. You can leverage the professional experiences of the board to support your staff, and increased engagement with the right board member may also lead to greater financial support. – Daniel A Wubah, Millersville University
5. Use Social Media
Social media articles and posts can often be an overlooked opportunity for professional development. Particularly on LinkedIn, most thought leaders and subject matter experts will post free advice, think pieces and even research for their followers to review. These posts are an opportunity for team members to engage with the larger nonprofit community and challenge their normal thought processes. – Christina Allrich, Beta Gamma Sigma
6. Explore Local Opportunities
The best resource is always your local resources. Most states have a local nonprofit resource center that you can turn to for membership opportunities and educational materials. Google your local area and look into the opportunities available. – Christopher Dipnarine, 4MyCiTy Inc.
7. Leverage The Expertise Of Librarians
I recommend visiting public libraries and engaging with university centers as a low-cost way to support lifelong learning of nonprofit professionals. Librarians are trained to curate “free via library” resources, so they can guide you to relevant books, resources and training materials. Some universities even have leadership centers that provide free or low-cost leadership seminars for nonprofit leaders. – Christopher Washington, Franklin University
8. Provide A List Of Community Organizations
Encourage members of your team to volunteer and be active in the community. This can include chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, Toastmasters meetings, Scouts, local public schools or whatever else piques interest. Employees can develop or grow skills in a different environment, bringing those lessons back to your organization as you boost your collective reputation in the community. – Patrick Riccards, Driving Force Institute
9. Encourage Volunteer Opportunities
Employees should seek volunteer opportunities to serve on boards or on committees of boards in order to understand core operational strategies, such as budgeting, finance, auditing, programming and the like. They should also seek out informational interviews with those already working in fields requiring the possession of certain competencies in order to learn about their path to those skills. – Yolanda Watson Spiva, Complete College America, Inc.
10. Have Employees Share Helpful Resources
Pay attention to the things your people do well. So often, we tend to highlight what is not working rather than focus on what’s going smoothly. Ask your best employees to share with you the resources they’ve found helpful. Host informal lunches where this information is shared widely. Don’t set up staff as “experts” or “teachers,” but point instead to the resource itself to avoid any rivalry. – Gloria Horsley, Open to Hope