Colorado Nonprofit Association Makes Learning Free to Members

The association that represents nonprofit organizations in Colorado is eliminating fees for its training programs and instituting a new learning recognition program. The goal: increase participation by eliminating barriers and adding incentives.

In the area of professional development, the Colorado Nonprofit Association is going from fee to free.

At its annual conference last month, the organization announced that, beginning in January, all employees of member nonprofits, business members, and student and individual members will be eligible to attend in-person training and webinars for free. It is shifting from charging members between $35 and $65 per training to incorporating training into its membership benefits to allow members to save money and keep up with best practices.

The Colorado Nonprofit Association had heard from its members that the cost of training was a barrier to taking advantage of professional development opportunities. Taking away the fee opens up these offerings to employees and board members at all stages of their careers.

“It adds to the value proposition of being a member,” said Renny Fagan, the association’s president and CEO. Members want to be well informed on issues such as board governance, financial management, employment laws, and fundraising practices—and the association wants to strengthen its members’ performance, he said.

Along with implementing free training, “we are developing a recognition program so nonprofits can stay up to date with best practices and demonstrate that they’re a learning organization that cares about best practices,” Fagan said. Nonprofits can attain the Excellence in Nonprofit Principles and Practices recognition if their employees attend training in nine of 10 tracks, including advocacy, communications, financial management, information and technology, human resources, fund development, governance, evaluation, planning, and strategic alliances.

Members who earn this recognition can display a digital badge on their website, in grant applications, and in other materials. “Nonprofits want to keep up with best practices for their own success,” but they also will find value in demonstrating this commitment to donors and vendors, Fagan said.

“The Excellence in Nonprofit Principles and Practices recognition will showcase that a nonprofit and its employees are well rounded in key areas of nonprofit management,” Gerry Rasel, director of membership services, said in a statement on the organization’s website.

Last year, the Colorado Nonprofit Association delivered professional development programs to more than 3,600 people. This change expands the frequency of these offerings, Fagan said.

The association hopes that eliminating the separate cost for training will attract and retain more members. Membership dues are determined using a sliding scale, based on the size of the nonprofit’s budget. The free training is likely to be most attractive to small and midsize nonprofits, Fagan said, because the cost of only two or three trainings would offset their membership dues.


Allison Torres Burtka

By Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. MORE

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