Continuing education sounds great, looks great, is great; but it can also take a great toll on your organization’s budget. Some organizations are able to budget for staff training others are not. Regardless of your organization’s available funds, continuing education is possible. Below are five different options that can be useful when looking for funds.
1. The program itself:
This probably goes without saying, but if you are in need of funds the first step should be to reach out to the program, school, or training center to see what scholarship funds may be available. It would amaze people to know how often funds go unclaimed or different enrollment incentives are overlooked.
2. State societies:
Very similar to point number one, if the continuing education is in line with associations or clubs to which you belong, see if they have funds or some sort of a reciprocal agreement. Many societies and clubs offer scholarships and funding to like-minded training institutions.
3. Foundation grants:
Another fabulous resource is the sometimes difficult to navigate world of foundation grants. Grants are sums of money given by governments, local authorities, or foundations to enhance educational studies. Grants differ from loans as grants are not required to be paid back. Foundation grants are the most accessible grants to use when searching for continuing education funds. Websites like Foundation Finder allow you to search through thousands of foundations that have grant funds. It does take some time, but with some patience you should be able to find a foundation with goals in line with the continuing education that you seek.
4. Webinars and short conferences:
There are also great options for continuing education programs that are less expensive than multi-day conferences. Options like one-day or half-day local conferences, or online options such as webinars, are great cost-savers. A simple Google search of “webinar” + “nonprofit” yielded some great resources, such as Non Profit Webinars.com and Fundraising 123. Both offer free webinars and offer for free their archived videos which can be streamed on their sites.
5. Planning ahead:
Lastly and possibly most importantly, planning ahead is the best way to get in front of budget restraints. Think about what events happened this year that you were not able to attend, look at your favorite programs and see what they are offering next year. Analyze your budget to see if continuing education funds can come from elsewhere.
Continuing education is too important to let finances trump an opportunity to grow professionally. Continuing education helps not only the recipient of the learning but the organization as a whole.