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If you’re interested in growing professionally but your nonprofit doesn’t have the funds to support continuing education, no worries—enrolling in a college-level course or studying to learn a new skill doesn’t have to cost money. Some continuing education options allow you to keep your money and simply invest your time and energy.
Here are ten ways you can keep learning and growing without forking over loads of cash.
- Coursera.org offers online classes from some of the most prestigious universities, including Stanford, Duke and Johns Hopkins. Some of their best-rated classes are related to environmental law, entrepreneurship, classical music and web development. While course completion (including graded assignments and certificates) requires a fee, you can explore all lectures and non-graded material for free. Also, financial aid is available for learners who qualify.
- Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education offers both paid and free online courses from some of their esteemed professors. Harvard Online Learning lets you choose from podcasts, lectures and classes on a wide variety of subjects. Some of the courses cost money, but many are offered to students for free.
- Udemy.com offers free and paid video classes on a wide variety of subjects, including photography, IT and software, health and fitness, language and personal development. You can explore over 55,000 courses and learn at your own pace from any device.
- Lynda.com is an online learning platform that offers courses in business, software, technology and creative skills through individual, corporate, academic and government subscriptions. Depending on your needs, your organization may find a subscription useful enough to pay for it. The site offers a 30-day free trial for anyone who wants to check it out, so even if a subscription is not in your budget, you can take a month to glean as much information as you can for free.
- Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX.org is an online learning destination and MOOC (massive open online course) provider, offering high-quality courses from universities and institutions around the world. With more than 90 global partners and 10 million learners, you’ll be in good company if you take one of their free courses from places like The University of British Columbia, The University of Queensland in Australia and Seoul National University.
- If you live near a university, sit in on some lectures and “audit” the class. While you won't earn academic credit, some universities allow you to audit classes for free, so you can save money but still learn the material. Upcoming courses and lecture hall locations are often available online in the course catalog. Unlike the paying students, you won’t have to worry about writing the papers or taking exams—but you’ll expand your knowledge base.
- Download the iTunes U app, which has a collection of over one million lectures, videos, books and course materials from universities and even cultural institutions like the Smithsonian Libraries and the Library of Congress. Through just one app, all that information is available at your fingertips for free.
- Go online and search for educational videos. Everyone loves Tasty’s recipe videos or the DIY videos you see all over social media, but did you know there are also videos on subjects like math, psychology and the sciences? Check out the tutorials from Khan Academy and inspirational talks from TED.
- Look for local events and organizations that are relevant to your job and your nonprofit’s cause and get involved. You’ll likely have opportunities to attend lunch-and-learns or networking events that provide valuable education, and if you get involved at a leadership level, you may have access to regional or national conferences that are paid for by the organization.
- Volunteer! You know how valuable a great volunteer is, of course, but do you also understand the value that volunteering provides? You could look for an opportunity with a school or organization in your community that allows you to learn a new skill or get hands-on experience in a field you’ve always been curious about. This is a win-win option, for both you and the people you’re serving.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include Firespring’s own list of educational resources. Did you know we offer free webinars for nonprofits on a variety of relevant topics, from email marketing to social media to how to captivate and engage supporters with your website? We call it “education without expectation,” and you’re invited to peruse our list of free webinars here.