I was speaking with an acquaintance the other day who has been in eLearning for over ten years. He said that within the last year, 50% of their business had come from the Non-Profit sector. This was no surprise to me. Non-Profit’s have typically been slow adopters of technology, and the faith-based subset has been slower still, generally speaking.
In 2000, I was working on an eLearning solution for a Non-profit (NP). I quickly found that there were unique, yet critical, criteria that needed addressing. For NP’s there is a heavy emphasis placed upon the relational aspect of business. The funding and donation models of many make relationships and the sense of partnership an integral part of their organizational DNA.
As we were researching the requirements for this particular start-up, we could not find anyone else that was addressing the needs we faced. The typical models for most eLearning initiatives fell into one of two camps: Corporate training or University coursework. There was also a difference in the language/symantics of NP’s versus these other established learning models that made communicating with eLearning venders challenging.
It was at this time, that I predicted there would be a coming wave of need from NP’s to utilize the Web not only for discimination of information and material to their audience but, also for the partnering and “educating” of them. NP’s are mission minded and look to enlist people that share that same mission, vision, and passion. Toward that end, it benefits a NP to provide resources for equipping their constituents and therefore deepening the relatonships.
Connecting and Community
NP’s tend to be people oriented–they provide helps and services to many. From Art and Youth to Disabilities and Disaster Relief, from Economic and Political to Medical and Spiritual, NP’s run the gamut.
Connecting – As mentioned above NP’s place a huge emphasis on connecting people accross all spectrums of life. P2P is a critical success factor for many. This can happen online and off. Also, many NP’s recruit volunteers that are willing to donate a considerable amount of their personal time toward the fulfillment of the vision they support.
Community is a second success factor for NP’s. Again, online and off-line environments are a must. People want to belong to a worthy cause. They interact socially with others who share their concerns, values, and experiences. These people bond as a result of a community environment. They bond with each other as well as the NP.
Financial gain is not the driving factor behind a NP and their constituents. Belonging, purpose, and mission are the drivers. This has obvious pros and cons. Because NP’s are not traditionally financially motivated, they can be tight-fisted when it comes to spending. They can also be short-sighted in regards to tech and hiring strong, quality people. (See Top 3 Mistakes Non-Profits Make)
Word spreads quickly within this business sector and a good and competent company can have their choice of NP’s to offer services to.
A learning company/provider that:
– Is competitively priced,
– Has a set of financial models to choose from,
– Understands the unique qualities of an NP,
– Understands the unique needs of an NP,
– Speaks the language of NP’s
– And , approaches the NP as a relational partner has every opportunity to strike gold!
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