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Learning management systems are a growing trend for a simple reason…they automate and centralise the delivery of online training material and educational content.

In other words…having an LMS for your non-profit saves you LOTS of time and resources. When I talk about automation, I’m referring to some things that would take “human” time that could be done by online systems.

Most non-profits riding the LMS software wagon use it for volunteer inductions, staff training, and ongoing e-learning subscriptions.

In this article, you will learn how an LMS can help your non-profit, its advantages, how to choose the best fit, and how to get started.

What is a learning management system?

Essentially, an LMS is a plugin added to your WordPress site that allows you to create and deliver online educational materials.

A robust LMS plugin lets you add quizzes, modules, games, rewards, and pretty much everything you need to engage your students or trainees. Moreover, you can also set up onboarding email sequences and follow-ups and integrate the plugin into any WordPress theme.

After the initial setup, you can start working on your modules using the plugin’s page builder, upload any media type, and choose how to display your content. Ideally, you would have an LMS admin person to keep things on track and flag any issues that may arise.

I will go deeper into the advantages of having an LMS below, but first…

Are LMSs and Member Portals the same?

Both LMSs and member portals are similar but not the exact same. It sort of comes down to the main features of each type of plugin.

A member portal’s priority is to offer different tiers or types of memberships and subscriptions. Some member portal plugins offer add-on course builders, but it’s not their core functionality. A learning management system focuses on delivering robust and seamless content. All changes, updates, and added integrations are done with this at heart.

Some of our clients actually use both. They’ve chosen to have a member portal that allows them flexibility and can even be “built” into the laptops their staff use. And an LMS that “serves” their content on top of that.

The plugins we implement at Digital Services Lab can be integrated to maximise capability. However, sometimes our clients already have an LMS and just need to set it up and configure it to fit their purpose.

Advantages of using an LMS for non-profits

Here’s how non-profits can leverage the use of a learning management system:

  • To add and scale your services and/or products.
  • To offer different subscription tiers to existing and new clients. This can be, for example, offering a monthly or annual membership, signing up for a free lesson, or purchasing a course with a certificate of completion.
  • Keeps your content accountable. You can track progress, engagement, and any other KPIs you’ve set.
  • It frees you from having to do the same over and over – by removing the guesswork. Say you have to do a Health & Safety Induction for all new volunteer staff. What if you forgot to say something? How many other people would need to be trained and ready to deliver if you can’t be there? How can you 100% prove you are complying with the rules and regulations if anything happens? In this case, centralising ensures reliability and consistency.
  • You can use it to build a community platform around your non-profit/s mission. People engage at a higher level when they actively participate in what you offer – which is why creating a great experience will be essential for success.
  • Your members get to learn at their own pace.

Overall, having an LMS will save your non-profit lots of money and time. It makes creating, tracking and housing your content easy, all while providing an engaging user experience.

Choosing a learning management system: It’s all about strategy (and priorities)

So how should you go about choosing and setting up an LMS for your non-profit?

With our clients, I like to approach a decision like this through strategy…

What is your optimal business model?

What type of content will you provide? Would you use an LMS for internal training needs, for online educational purposes – or both?

What are your short and long-term goals?

What are your competitors doing?

If you are already using an LMS plugin, is it offering a great experience? Is it easy to understand and navigate? Are things in the backend tidy?

What do your customers value the most? Do you already have a marketing strategy? Do you have an allocated budget plan?

And last but not least…what’s your buyer’s journey in and out of your website?

Do people find you through social media, then head to your website, subscribe to your newsletter and eventually donate, volunteer, and purchase a course? Or, do they find you through Google search, sign up for a free online lesson, and then become an annual member?

All these considerations will unveil the exact type of solution your non-profit needs.

In conclusion

The secret to successfully adding and configuring a learning management system is to approach it holistically.

We can take you all the way from strategy into the implementation of all the features you need.

The technical aspect of setting up an LMS usually falls outside the scope of work internal staff in a non-profit offer. Also, as you can imagine, the correct configuration of all the functions and integrations you need is far too important to overlook. If you’ve been burnt before, you may have experienced some scary stuff on your WordPress site when trying to get everything up and running. That’s not fun.

As a digital agency working exclusively with ethical businesses and non-profits, we know how busy you are and the pressure to keep it all going. This is why we exist! To help your organisation fulfil its potential using the best and most modern solutions. As expert web developers, you can rest and rely on our expertise. Are you ready to offer your staff and community the best? Then get in touch and book your consultation.

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