Charities lead the way in harnessing social networking for L&D

Charities are ahead of their private and public sector counterparts in harnessing the blueprint of social networking for learning, according to latest research. Martin Baker, founder and MD of the Charity Learning Consortium, says he is not surprised – using social media for learning is compellingly cost effective for charities, with private, exclusive networks in particular really proving their worth.

According to the latest research, charities are far more likely than their counterparts in the private or public sectors to use social networking sites like Facebook for learning and development use.

Martin Baker, founder and MD of the Charity Learning Consortium, said he was delighted to see that charities were getting the recognition they deserved for their innovative use of social networking for learning, which, he says, is “compellingly cost-effective”.

The research, by Towards Maturity, highlights the fact that the Third Sector has been last out of the starting blocks when it comes to getting to grips with using learning technologies – which is not surprising, given the commitment that charities make to spending grant money, legacies and donations on front line services, rather than on IT infrastructure.

 “Charities may be using antiquated hardware, but they are leading the way when it comes to harnessing the blueprint of social media for learning and organisational use,” said Martin Baker, who has been mentoring eLearning in the Third Sector for almost 10 years.

“What those in L&D in the Third Sector have become expert at is thinking creatively, implementing learning and development programmes on a shoestring. In the current economic climate, there are definitely lessons which the private and public sector can learn from what charities are doing.

“Amongst the members of the Charity Learning Consortium, for example, VSO is using social networking really imaginatively, with a moderated discussion forum helping to prepare its UK volunteers. VSO’s vision is to eventually roll this out globally and I know that other charities are keeping a keen eye on how the forum is progressing.

“Charities like VSO are leading the way in using an exclusive network for a very specific learning purpose. It’s still early days for using social media for learning in the Third Sector. In the future I’m sure that more of our members will embrace these tools for L&D, and I look forward to seeing how.”

Social networking: The facts

The percentage of organisations surveyed by Towards Maturity which:

  • Use social networking for learning: 34% of not-for-profits; 22% of public organisations; 19% of private companies.

  • Allow unrestricted access to social media: 63% of not-for-profits; 34% of public organisations; 54% of private companies, rising to 75% in IT and telecoms.

  • Encourage communication amongst learners: 43% of not-for-profits; 38% of public organisations; 43% of private companies.

  • Have established good links with IT departments: 57% of not-for-profits; 54% of public organisations; 57% of private companies.

Statistics taken from Accelerating Performance, the Towards Maturity benchmarking report 2010-11.  You can download the full report at


Comments are closed.