Distance Learning Has Much to Offer Your Nonprofit Association

Distance Learning is mission critical!
Distance Learning is mission critical!

Believe it or not, the first Distance Learning course was initially offered in 1728, when Caleb Phillips advertised the first shorthand correspondence lessons via US mail.

The first university-based courses were initiated by the University of London over 150 years ago, in 1858.

So while we don’t tend to think of distance education as having roots this deep, the fact remains that educators have been thinking outside of the classroom box for a long time.

Today we thought we would offer our thoughts on the importance of distance learning for your association in the twenty-first century.

Let’s face it, the economic challenges we have all faced in the last several years has underscored the necessity of distance learning for today’s associations education needs.

Associations have been forced to do more with less in almost every area of operations. As a result, Association Education staff, have been forced to find new ways of doing business but not killing productivity or jeopardizing the standards which they have kept in the past.

The good news is that their are many good solutions for all budgets and size associations. To be sure, implementing the proper technology can help in that effort for most nonprofit associations.

Distance learning provides your members with a way to connect, share ideas and promote their passion for the trade, profession, or cause your association supports.

Whether located in Fort Worth, Texas, or New York City, NY., members of your wider community can continue to be educated by your association through shared classes, online forums and supportive chat rooms and blogs. Technology in the twenty-first century is plentiful and affordable for almost anyone.

Distance learning provides associations with an easy, effective, and measurable way to ensure that those who are members of your association are receiving the latest information on your organization and its progress, and integrating it correctly into their own field of work.

Online exams are an efficient way to measure and confirm the success of the students in your distance learning courses. With our Distance Learning tool and Online Continuing Education Credit Module, members who successfully complete your training program can be officially certified, thus providing another opportunity to spread the word about your association’s benefits.

Online training courses are relatively easy and straightforward to set up and manage, so your nonprofit association can focus on other important aspects of the work such as improving other non-dues revenue opportunities applicable to your mission.

Over 60% of US colleges and universities now offer online-courses, which means that, for younger segments of the population, and their professors, distance learning is a fact of life.

In fact, online enrollment was up by a million students, or 21%, from 2009-2010. Because of this, you will find ready acceptance of the concept among not only younger members who expect this to be apart of your offering but also mature baby boomers who are becoming more and more accepting of this method of strengthening their knowledge in their particular field.

Is Distance Learning offered at your association? If not, can your association remain viable without it?

Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help integrate distance learning into your associations educational curriculum.

Get Reliable and Focused Data Through Survey Results

501c3's need data to be effective via Survey

Anyone who has ever written a grant proposal at a 501c3 knows the value of gathering member and donor feedback is critical to success. As a foundation nonprofit, you are vying for government or larger private foundation money, and the competition is fierce. You need concise data that demonstrate customer satisfaction, along with demands for future service. Those surveys need to be both quantitatively valid and qualitatively valuable. You can get there from here through reliable survey management software. Here are a few ways many of the 501c3’s I have worked with gain insights through data:

Cold Calls or Hot Results?

Telephone surveys are one way to gather your data, but they are time consuming and demand the extra forbearance of your client. Survey scripting is a challenge, and the telephone medium restricts survey format somewhat. Going online following an e-mail solicitation campaign with a link to your survey is easier on your organization and returns a manageable product. You can monitor survey progress, abstract its results and synthesize everything for that grant proposal or re-funding cycle.

Residual Benefits of Data for Your Non Profit

The thing about surveys is the number of surprises that always crop up as you review them. For example, you might be surprised to learn that many public employment agencies do not view their primary mission as finding jobs for individuals. Their focus is on the big picture of job development or making the unemployed better equipped to find work.

So if you’re the customer and still don’t have the job, even though your résumé skills are improved, are you a satisfied client? Your expectations didn’t match the agency’s focus, so maybe they need to change their focus or change your expectations.

Unfortunately, bureaucratic inertia in the public sector is often impermeable to any kind of feedback except budget cuts. Your foundation, on the other hand, has to scramble for funding. You must totally keep your services aligned with customer and client expectations, and you must show how your primary mission aligns with the nebulous realm of client or customer satisfaction. You do that with well-designed and well-executed client and community surveys.

The Survey Says…What Do You Need to Know

Think about the top five (or more – but at least five) things your nonprofit needs to do well and write a survey questionnaire to measure them. The survey could be in any format or structure that meets your purpose – e.g. “Rate these statements on a scale of 1 to 5.” When you work out the details and the feedback measurement goals, you can pin the survey to your web site or have the survey hosted on another server. Then you sit back and hope for positive results all in your association or nonprofit database system.

Contact us for a free discussion on available solutions which may help you gather data on your constituents.