People development strategies for the third sector


Shona Smart explains why third sector organisations should consider e-learning as a way of developing staff and volunteers

TFN Guest's photo

29th March 2016 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Shona Smart

Shona Smart

For any organisation people development is a challenging task, but in the third sector where the people who represent charities can be diverse, the challenge is multiplied. The bad headlines of the last year have increased the scrutiny on how charities operate and raised the priority of competence and compliance. Organisations need to not only ensure they are compliant with regulation but also evidence their compliance, whether for staff, trustees, volunteers or fundraisers. What can you do to ensure your people have access to the right learning, are competent in their roles and are being recognised for their achievements?

Online learning platforms are an effective way of quickly deploying learning to a wide audience. They can be particularly effective in upskilling geographically dispersed groups or people who are fitting learning around other priorities, such as volunteers. It’s now recognised that social learning is an important part of how we learn. Learning platforms with forums and communities of practise facilitate the sharing of ideas, as well as giving organisations a controlled environment in which to coach and mentor.

Business and education are starting to embrace Open Badges and they offer the third sector a very powerful, and relatively low-cost, tool to recognise and reward their people

I work with several organisations who manage skills development using a competency management system. With competency frameworks for each role in your organisation people can better understand what is expected of them, especially valuable if you are bringing many new people on board. By recording training, organisations get the structure and control they need to extend their reach and respond to the increased focus on self-regulation.

Charities rely heavily on people giving their knowledge and time. There are many reasons why people choose to volunteer but for some it’s to gain new skills or develop transferrable experience. So much more can be done to formally recognise contribution and achievement in the third sector, particularly for young people who are using voluntary positions to kick-start their career.

Open Badges are digital accreditations which are used to reward learning and achievement. Learners can collect badges from multiple sources, build them up over time and display the badges online as a record of their experience and continuous personal development (CPD). Business and education are starting to embrace Open Badges and they offer the third sector a very powerful, and relatively low-cost, tool to recognise and reward their people.  These badges are transferable for people who volunteer across a number of charities.  

As a Learning Technology Consultant I work with organisations in the third sector to understand their unique learning challenges, both internally for their core staff and across the wider organisation. For many their learning technology journey starts with small-scale or project-based solutions, which can build over time. eCom offers a consultative approach to creating learning interventions, delivering and tracking online activities, and recognising and rewarding your staff for their efforts. At eCom we can help you build capacity within your team to harness the power of learning technologies, ensuring competence and compliance in your organisation.  

Shona Smart is the learning technology consultant at eCom Scotland