Sometimes your team may need to join a paid course or training programme. Maybe their work is impacted by changes in the law or regulations they need to apply. Or you employed someone with potential and enthusiasm who needs a bit more training on the topic. So let’s look at how you can afford paid courses in your nonprofit.

Include it in your organisation’s annual budget

It all starts by making sure you think about this in advance. Make a plan for what individual and team training and courses you will need in the year. What competences does your team need to develop? What knowledge and skills will your nonprofit need to have for its work in future, given trends in the work and society? Estimate the costs of these needs and include that number in your annual budget plan.

Include it in your project budgets

Now that you know what you will need and how much that will cost, you can include this in your project proposals and budgets. There are different ways to include the cost of professional development in your project budgets.

  • Some donors like to invest specifically in capacity building and offer grants only for that.

If you depend on activity grants, you can do the following:

  • You can include training of your team (members) as a project activity, perhaps as a preparatory step in a community process.
  • Your team members can be participants in trainings you host for the community. So they learn alongside the community members, from the same expert. (This may not always be a good solution, by the way. Maybe your community doesn’t feel completely free in learning from the expert if people from your organisation are present.)
  • If you can budget with fees, and not just salary costs, you can include the cost of courses and trainings for your team in your fee calculation.



Unearmarked income

Applying for project grants very often requires patience. It takes time to hear back from your donor. I have sometimes had to wait 18 months for a decision. I do recommend that you include where possible the cost of professional development in your project budgets. But this is not a fast solution. A potentially faster way to get money to invest in courses and training is to generate unearmarked income. This is income that’s not given for a specific purpose. So it’s free to use for your needs, including professional development of your team. You can generate unearmarked income in many different ways, including services and advertisements.

Be prepared

Key in all of this is that you need to plan for your nonprofits needs and your team members’ needs. You’ll need to look at professional development plans of your team members as well as trends and developments in the outside world that may impact your work or your community in any way.

My best tip

When considering these things, also think about the cost of not investing in this (paid) course or training. If you don’t invest in learning it can sometimes be way more expensive. For instance, if your team member feels unappreciated and leaves. Or if a costly mistake is made, losing you a donor or getting you a fine for instance.

How I can help

Check out my Ten Tips to Make Clever Project Budgets.

Learn about project design and budgeting in my course Project design for nonprofits.

Or learn more about fee calculations in my workshop Fee calculation.

Learn how to get unearmarked income in my workshop 7 ways to generate unearmarked income for your nonprofit.

If you want to learn about setting up and maintaining a good HR system for your nonprofit, join my course Practical Labour Law & HR for nonprofits.

Want to know more and ask questions?

If you want to discuss this more – jump into my nonprofit support community and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!

Here is how you can join my free nonprofit support community

You can join my free nonprofit support community on the Heartbeat platform here. This group is a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.

You can visit the community via a browser or via an app. Here is the link to download the Heartbeat chat app in the Google Play store.

Want to support me with a cup of coffee?

The seaside always inspires me and helps me think of articles, videos, workshops and courses I can create for you.

If you want to support me without getting a paid workshop, course or review – you can donate me a coffee and speed up my thinking process!

You can support me here: