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A Guide to Creating Courses for Nonprofits

A Guide to Creating Courses for Non Profits

If you’re part of the non-profit world, it can be hard to get the funding that you need to keep your organization going. One way that some nonprofits are getting around this problem is by offering courses and classes to the public instead of services or products, with income from these courses going back into the company to help pay expenses and maintain their programs. If you’re considering starting such a course-based business or if you’re looking for ways to grow the courses that you already offer, there are some things you should know about courses for nonprofits.

Understanding why nonprofit courses are effective

The year 2022 has seen an overwhelming number of nonprofits launch their very own training programs, thanks in part to programs like Teachable and Udemy. Yet, despite growing public awareness about nonprofits’ use of online learning platforms, many fundraising and advocacy groups have been slow to adopt e-learning strategies, largely due to a lack of understanding about what these courses can do for them. In order to make nonprofit courses successful from a marketing perspective, you need clearly define your target audience and keep in mind that one size does not fit all. Here are four questions every nonprofit should ask themselves before launching an online course

Keys to a successful course for nonprofits

Consider which topics you want your course to cover and what audiences will be interested in learning them. If you want a course that teaches nonprofit leaders how to develop grant proposals, who are your potential learners? That might be boards of directors or program managers. Next, do some research on best practices in grant writing and develop a curriculum around these learnings. Find a marketer who can help you promote your course once it’s built. Finally, check out Course Report—we have tons of free resources here that can help you create an excellent non-profit specific course!

Tips for creating an effective online course

When you create an online course, you’ll have access to a large number of teaching tools. You can choose from interactive elements such as videos, slideshows, quizzes and more. While developing your content is important, ensuring that it’s entertaining and helpful is just as vital. Just because you’re creating an online course doesn’t mean that it has to be dry. Because you want people to enjoy and participate in your courses (and revisit them), it’s smart to make sure that they’re user-friendly from start to finish. This will also help keep students engaged and motivated—two vital traits for any successful class or program.

Maximizing ROI on your online course investment

Before embarking on a massive effort, make sure your course will be worth every penny. To get started, keep in mind these three basic questions: Is there a market for your topic? It’s important to see whether or not people will be interested in your course by conducting some research on its potential ROI. Knowing that thousands of nonprofits would benefit from such a course is one thing; knowing how many are willing and able to pay for it is another. If you have no idea where to start, search around online with some high-level keywords like nonprofit marketing courses and see what results come up. What kind of person will want my course? The next thing you need to figure out is who you’re targeting with your content.

Getting the most out of your content marketing strategy

When you’re creating content for your brand, there’s a fine line between being valuable and being overly promotional. The best way to stay on track is by making sure that your value prop is clearly defined, and you are consistently aligning your content with it. If you’re an accounting firm, is it because of your industry expertise? Your passion? Your ability to work within specific industries? Defining what makes you different can help guide which topics you choose—and how prominently they appear in your communication strategy.

Case studies from organizations who have launched courses in the past

Within a certain community, there are individuals who are engaged and enthusiastic about helping others succeed. You can reach out to these people and ask them if they’d be willing to share their experience working with or for your organization in an interview. If you’re unsure where to find individuals who would make great case studies, search your nonprofit’s social media accounts and website for connections. Reach out and ask these contacts if they’d be willing to share their experience creating courses within their organization. For example, if you were writing a post about creating courses at hospitals, you could gather information from former employees of local hospitals who had previously created courses as part of their job description.

Resources & additional reading

Taking courses can be a great way for nonprofits and volunteers—who don’t necessarily have access to in-depth professional development opportunities at their jobs—to keep learning, growing and advancing their skills while giving back. Below is a list of resources nonprofits looking to create online courses might find useful as they embark on their own digital learning journeys. The Online Learning Consortium also has valuable tips (which also include how-to videos) about creating nonprofit MOOCs (massive open online courses). These resources are just a few of many possible sources you could tap into as you consider taking your first steps toward creating a course.

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