Martin Baker, founder and CEO, explains how he started the Charity Learning Consortium, and how its community of members is at the heart of everything.
Like a lot of good things, the Charity Learning Consortium came about quite by chance. I was working in corporate eLearning and gave a quote to a charity in 2000. The charity’s head of learning fell off his chair laughing at the cost – they just didn’t have that kind of money. This got me thinking: If I could get a group of charities together, and they all used the same eLearning platform, then they could split the cost. And so the idea for the Charity Learning Consortium was born.
At the time, I didn’t know of any charities that were using eLearning so there were no positive case studies or success stories to build upon, so I was starting from scratch.
I needed several organisations to run a pilot, which took some time, but by 2003 I had six charities willing to try it. The basis of the pilot was that each charity would have unlimited access to a Moodle learning management system (LMS) and a suite of courses for an affordable annual fee, based on their employee size.
On a quarterly basis, all the members would meet up to talk about how they were using and implementing the resources. These meetings were crucial, and we shared what had been working and what hadn’t, so others could benefit and avoid the same pitfalls.
At the end of the pilot, several other charities became interested in what we were doing and as membership grew, so did the amount of knowledge within the group. There has always been a great willingness for members to be open with one another, to share experiences and resources and learn collectively.
Other charitable organisations started to see the huge benefits of belonging to the Charity Learning Consortium. By 2007 membership had grown to more than 20. By 2009 it had grown dramatically to almost 60. Today we have well over 250 third sector organisations as members.
Independent research shows that the benefits of using eLearning are usually huge. Charities see increased levels of satisfaction amongst customers, staff and volunteers; reach more people with the learning that’s on offer and see an increase in qualifications. Staff are also generally more engaged with learning.
Charities that invest in learning technologies reduce their overall training costs and increase their productivity. They also become more agile, responding more quickly to changing circumstances. But belonging to a network of fellow learning and development and HR practitioners, who are all passionately trying to achieve similar results, is what ultimately helps make eLearning a success. The community is where the magic happens! Someone in our group will have faced similar challenges, and come up with a workable solution – in other words, collaboration is vital. This is why our complimentary, quarterly events are so popular, and we continue our tradition of sharing member case studies to highlight what has worked well.
I do hope that you will get in touch to see what we can offer, which includes an industry-leading, bespoke LMS, a wide choice of eLearning courses, and a growing range of free resources to support learning and development practitioners. And of course, there is our vibrant community of members, which is at the heart of everything that we do, driving our mission and vision. I look forward to your joining us too.
Find out more about the Consortium at: CharityLearning.org.