Training for charities: Charity begins online

One dedicated networking organisation aims to enhance training in the charity sector – and provide at an affordable price.

Sharing best practice in training is the goal of the Charity Learning Consortium (CLC). Formed in 2001 by six charities looking to share resources and get value for money from training, it now comprises 35 member organisations with charitable status.

The 35 include heavy-hitters such as The Prince’s Trust, Barnado’s, Breast Cancer Care and UNICEF – but there are about 160,000 registered charities in the UK employing more than 650,000 staff. The main focus of CLC members’ shared interests is e-learning. The consortium meets quarterly so most information is shared online.

CLC spokeswoman Chrissie Elwood explains: “The members’ website provides access to marketing information, including brochures and posters used by members to support their e-learning. Members can also access e-learning background and implementation documents, PowerPoint presentations and information from previous meetings, an events calendar and links to useful publications and documents.”

Discount

CLC members also pay heavily discounted fees on additional resources and cost-effective e-learning courses from its primary partner, Jenison, as well as other providers. They pay a subscription, which gives them access to a range of standard courseware, with additional e-learning modules available.

The CLC says members would ordinarily pay three or four times more via standard corporate rates. For example, the well-known 50 Lessons courseware is available for £12,000 for an unlimited licence – the CLC claims the corporate price tag is £60,000. But, bear in mind e-learning providers rarely give details of standard charges – indeed there are no standard charges in the e-learning business.

The CLC range of courseware includes senior level management e-learning courseware, including nine key management modules covering 52 learning objects as well as health and safety and workplace legislation e-learning courseware from supplier Learning4Business. The Impetus Plus suite of IT training products also covers Microsoft Office programmes and the European Computer Driving Licence.

Members can also access the Management Milestones – Essentials series, a portfolio of training courses that cover a range of personal improvement and management skills, including communication skills, leadership and team development and sales skills, as well as literacy skills. The courses are designed for supervisors, as well as developing and middle managers.

Personalised

These learning and development tools include a rapid e-learning authoring tool that should enable users to develop and deliver personalised courses and Jenison’s Checkpoint learning management system.

Membership costs are annual, and based on employee numbers. A standard membership package that includes Impetus and Management Milestones will cost £3,100 for a company with 499 or fewer employees; £5,100 for those with 500-999; £7,100 for 1,000-2,499 staff; and £10,100 for charities with 2,500 or more staff.

According to Elwood, the CLC plans to enhance and update its online offerings throughout 2008. Improvements are also being made to its member meetings, with future gatherings scheduled to take place at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in London. The CLC also plans to devise a membership package for smaller charities.

Case studies: Carr-Gomm and RIND

Carr-Gomm

While e-learning constitutes just 4% of housing charity Carr-Gomm’s £180,000 annual training budget, the CLC member realised that some of the e-courseware could be useful for its 650 employees who are spread across the UK.

After assessing the e-courses on offer during 2007, incoming learning and development head Nicky Garvey realised CLC-based e-learning had fallen off the radar – something that she attributes to poor awareness about its availability, as well as a previous policy of manager-only access. Keen to make use of this fully paid-up service, she decided to relaunch the e-learning platform at a staff conference in March 2008.

Since the event, Garvey says there have been 512 hits on the training website – which can now be accessed from the association’s intranet homepage. Although she states that much of the e-courseware is too general or basic for Carr-Gomm’s specific requirements at present, Garvey has incorporated some of the fundamental courses – such as IT skills, health and safety and diversity and equality – into her induction and general training line-up, which saves the association paying for staff travel and accommodation for off-site training.

Carr-Gomm is also looking to develop a management development programme with the CLC, as well as dedicated e-learning courseware which will enable the association to cut down on its 300 training days a year.

RNID

The Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) joined the CLC about five years ago as it wanted affordable e-learning.

Head of learning and development, Doreen Miller, had previously looked at other e-courses, but found many were too Americanised, bandwidth hungry or relied heavily on audio components, which made them clearly unsuitable for RNID staff. These comprise around 1,400 individuals, including home workers, across 85 sites.

After starting with a pilot featuring 100 employees, positive feedback led to all the charity’s IT skills training being moved online. Miller claims the RNID now uses the CLC content to top up skills and conduct appraisals, using about 20 to 30 of the courseware modules. However, the specialist skills training required by the organisation means that much of the RNID’s training remains classroom-based.

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