21 February 2022

Jonny McAlister

Head of Sales & Marketing

Get our tips and advice on planning a charity LMS to deliver training to employees and volunteers.

Learning and development in the third sector tends to be a little bit different than in the public or private sectors. We’re no strangers to creating a charity learning management system (LMS) having delivered learning platforms for customers including Save the Children, Plan International and Concern Worldwide.

Along the way, we’ve picked up some ideas about what makes a really great charity LMS and we’re going to share them with you in this article. Let’s have a look at some of the key considerations when planning a charity LMS, and some tips for creating a platform that works for your organisation.

Delivering equality of learning opportunities

Most charities are working towards greater equality of some kind or other: equality of wealth, equality of healthcare, equality of education, equality of access to water, equality of rights. Against that backdrop, a charity really needs to be able to deliver equality of learning opportunities to all of its staff, regardless of where in the world they are operating.

That fact — coupled with the practicalities of charity work — underpins many of the points that follow.


An LMS with offline sync

Something that combines equality of learning opportunities with the practicalities of charity work is the need for an LMS with offline sync. In warzones, refugee camps and developing countries, there are no guarantees that the internet connection will hold up while a charity worker finishes their module.

It’s far better, and far less frustrating, to offer an LMS that can be used offline and syncs with the online version of the LMS when a reliable internet connection is available.

If using your LMS for offline learning is important for your organisation, both Moodle LMS and Totara Learn offer this feature via native mobile apps.


An LMS to manage offline learning

Depending on the nature of the learning or the prospect of the learner being able to access the internet at all, it might be necessary for learning to be undertaken entirely offline and not just completed on an app and synced later.

Save the Children wanted its LMS to be tailored towards blended learning, so that offline or face-to-face learning could be managed via its LMS when appropriate. This allows the flexibility to adapt to the circumstances, while retaining consistent learning experiences throughout the charity.


Delivering learning to a dispersed workforce

By their nature, charities typically have employees working in various far-flung corners of the world. For that reason, a great charity LMS is usually designed to deliver learning to people in multiple locations.

At its most basic level, this means creating a multilingual LMS so that each employee can complete learning in their native language. The bulk of this work can usually be achieved with language packs, but some customer language development may be needed.

For charities with distinct divisions in different parts of the world, an LMS with multi-tenancy features that mirror the organisational structure may be the best option. For Plan International, we created a Totara Learn platform with multi-tenancy features, so that the charity can deliver personalised learning to distinct audiences within the organisation. The beauty of multi-tenancy is that it avoids the need to create multiple LMS installations and ensures that learning data can be collected across the organisation as a whole (as well as in each division, department or team).


Opening lines of communication

Another aspect of a charity with a dispersed workforce is that many colleagues with similar roles, professional interests, and learning and development requirements might never come into contact with one another.

The right LMS, particularly when combined with a learning experience platform like Totara Engage, can create a resource for communication and collaboration, as well as learning. Charity-wide discussions and sharing of best practices can only be beneficial to the organisation.


What would make a great LMS for your charity?

Talk to us about your charity’s learning and development goals, and let’s start planning a learning management system to achieve them.

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