We are currently presented with the chance to take advantage of online education in a way that hasn’t happened before. The growing list of gatherings being cancelled due to the threat and spread of COVID-19 is increasing each day to include events like galas, local races, state association conferences, international conferences and even iconic events like SXSW.
Events like Adobe Summit have shown that we’re rounding the corner on our digital age to use available technology to educate ourselves and become sponges for information about our fields.
One of my favorite roles at Firespring is attending nonprofit conferences across the country. I get to meet with hundreds of organizations who are all working towards the betterment of their communities. These conferences are an opportunity for nonprofits to tap into their resources—attending keynotes, workshops and breakout sessions, then taking information back to implement in their mission. Just two short weeks ago, everything I should be working on this time of year has shifted. Conferences are being cancelled or postponed and many organizations are left suddenly having to start at square one after all the work that went into planning their event.
If you were one of the millions of people planning on a conference this spring and looking forward to the chance to attend many educational sessions, you may feel as though you’re missing out on your chance to bring vital information and wisdom back to your mission. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In our digital age there are many options for you to hunt and gather information that will provide for your organization through this pandemic.
Virtual conferences. If your conference has been moved to a virtual format, go! Hesitant because the experience will be strange and different? Well…right now the whole world is strange and different. The host organization likely has exhibitors who will still pay to sponsor, helping reduce cost to attendees. And especially now that there’s no hotel, food and travel expenses, that price tag is even lower. Reach out to upcoming conferences and ask if they are considering a virtual back-up plan. Already missing the social aspect? Whova is a great app used to keep track of conference events and get in touch with other attendees so you can get your social butterfly on. Check if your conference is able to set up a virtual happy hour for you to network with others or set one up yourself using Google Hangouts. I know the introverts out there are throwing a party (of one) because a virtual conference with zero networking is likely their ideal conference setup.
Webinars. This is one of the best ways to truly binge your education. Typically in a video or presentation slide format, webinars average about an hour and are packed full of information presented by thought leaders and experts in the field. There are tens of thousands of webinars out there so make sure that you are looking in the sector that makes sense to you and finding presenters who align with your organization’s mission and values. Attending live will provide you the great benefit of being able to send questions to your presenter to answer in real time, but if your schedule doesn’t allow this, the recording of a session is typically emailed out later that day. Go online and start finding webinar producers that will meet your needs. (Some personal favorites are Nonprofit Hub, Bloomerang, Harbor Compliance, Nonprofit Learning Lab and of course, us here at Firespring!)
Online training courses and workshops. Sometimes a personal touch makes all the difference—there are hundreds of great fundraising experts and consultants out in the world who are ready and willing to jump on board and help your organization. Many of them offer multi-week training courses or day-long workshops all online. If you don’t have any leads on who to look for or how to find a consultant, keep an eye out for them in webinars and conference speaker lineups because they’re not hiding from you!
Digital communities and forums. Do you belong to a fundraising group on Facebook? This is a great way to use our collective power to help one another. Do some exploring to see what groups are out there nationally and locally that you can be a part of. This brings you a network of people to collaborate with and who will support you throughout your fundraising journey. Often you become a part of some great fundraising groups after completing a training course with a consultant—another great reason to check them out!
Just plain ol’ Google. Infinite amounts of information and sources are waiting for us in cyberspace, all it takes is a few detailed keyword searches and you can find just about anything you’re looking for. So get creative and who knows, maybe you’ll be the one writing the next blog on best online education sources.
And if your nonprofit has experienced this sudden loss of events, even on a smaller scale, we may be able to help you. Visit our resources page to find many educational tools, or choose from some of our products that are specifically tailored to help nonprofit organizations of all sizes weather this storm and find a silver lining.
- Association Outreach Bundle
- Digital Fundraising in Two Weeks Bundle
For example, National Nonprofit Day is coming up on August 17. Use the Digital Fundraising in Two Weeks bundle to get you through this difficult season and start planning a big fundraising debut for August that will put you on track to exceed your yearly goal by Giving Tuesday.