Educational platform for nonprofit and social impact professionals.
Impact College is a learning platform for graduates and nonprofit professionals. Our courses focus on technology-based skills that are being constantly updated. By providing nonprofit professionals access to courses in these skills, we are bridging a skills gap that traditional higher education and traditional training currently does not – and we are, in turn, helping them to achieve greater impact.
Higher education provides fundamental, core skills that enable a graduate to learn, analyze, and research solutions to the challenges they will face in their lives and careers. What higher education does not do is focus on teaching the tactical skills, that are often rapidly changing as software, techniques, and strategies evolve. By providing a virtual "extension program" for these skills through Impact College to graduates and professionals in the social sector, they can future-proof their careers, while letting higher education do what it does best.
We designed this platform to:
- Save time: Our platform is designed to showcase bite-sized courses that provide just the information nonprofit professionals need, just when they need it.
- Reduce costs: Our method is cost-effective, in that it does not require expensive, travel and venue dependent in-person training.
- Be engaging: We help instructors and knowledge partners* make their courses interactive, hands-on, and engaging.
*Knowledge Partners - These are organizations who use Impact College to deploy their training at scale. This includes organizations who are using the "whitelabel" option to have a custom subdomain to train their staff/volunteers/users, as well as those who have one or more courses on the platform.
The Problem Statement
The current technology landscape offers an opportunity to shift the way nonprofit organizations engage and retain supporters and donors, as well as how they deliver their mission. However, nonprofit organizations aren’t using technology to its fullest capacity. According to the 2016 Digital Outlook Report, the following reasons were cited: staff shortages, budget restraints, coming up with new engaging content, lack of training on new digital strategies and tactics, and providing ROI internally, with staff and budget as the most common. Consequently, nonprofit organizations invest fewer resources to engage with technology. According to a report by Tech for Good, only 32% of NGOs worldwide have a dedicated staff member to deal with technology-based communications. More common, there is a part-time staff person, volunteers, or administrative or executive staff assigned to the role.
The question therefore, for this sector, is not whether to engage with technology or not, but rather: how can we best use technology with limited resources? To answer this question, many nonprofit organizations send their staff members to expensive and ineffective training, either through online webinars or in person.
The 2016 Training Industry Report tells us that total training expenditures in 2016 stood at $70.6 Billion.
The average nonprofit surveyed, as per the 2016 Training Industry Report, spent $1,232,174 annually on up-skilling their staff. Given the budget of most nonprofits, this is an extremely large amount of money. The question is: are the staff and volunteers at these organizations truly gaining the skills they are paying for? Are they learning what they need to achieve their missions?
Most people say, NO.
On average, over 85% of all training leaves the trainees dissatisfied and with inadequate tools and tactics that they cannot immediately apply to their jobs. Given how expensive executive education is and the fact that most individuals and nonprofit organizations do not have the budget to get specialized degrees at universities while working full-time, these training opportunities constitute the bedrock of "higher education" for many professionals and are the modern form of skill-development training for social impact.
Yet, they are largely delivered via PowerPoints, in person, in generic conference rooms. The end result? Annoyed trainees and little learning at great cost.
Impact College is a dedicated educational platform that fills nonprofit staff, volunteer, and campaign training needs. Impact College allows knowledge partners to take their offline training content and deploy it, at scale, online. This enables ongoing professional development for nonprofit staff, more sophisticated opportunities from supporters and volunteers and unlocks new tactics for campaigners.
Wall Street has a dedicated in-person and online training platform, Training the Street, that educates graduates in the financial modeling skills they will actually use day-to-day and don’t learn in traditional higher ed. This is an essential bridge, so that those entering financial firms whether they have liberal arts or business school degrees can immediately start doing the work that they are expected to do. No such training platform exists for social impact and much of the expert skills for social impact are held by organizations with no formal method for training entrants into the field. This is a significant barrier for growth in the field and for graduates from the growing higher educational programs focused on the intersection of business, public policy, and mission-based organizations.
A platform is a part of the solution, as many knowledge partners have deep knowledge about the issues they work on but limited web and software development capabilities. Therefore, they need a system that neither requires learning new software, nor custom development. A simple What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) platform with a common interface, in this case, WordPress, enables knowledge partners and learners to rapidly get up to speed.
However, for a course to really make the jump to a digital platform and improve engagement, it can't consist solely of online PowerPoint presentations or webinars. At Impact College, we believe eLearning is not just about information, and therefore Impact college courses emphasize relevance and hands-on experience. Impact College, therefore, is more than just a platform, but rather is a trusted advisor for digital training needs.
The "Agony" Setting
Most of the people we have trained learn within an "agony" setting. They likely do not have enough time, they might not have access to high-speed internet or a desktop computer, or a cohort of peers to train with. Impact College works within these parameters providing a platform that works very well for those who have a paucity of time, need a mobile interface and want tactical training that they can apply to their work straightaway.
On the trainers' side, we are faced with organizations and individuals with immense knowledge but no understanding of adult learning, instructional design or e-learning tech. This forces them to depend on terrible PowerPoints delivered via lectures in conference rooms across the country and the world. These sessions are both expensive as well as inadequate in providing the technical skills required to advance their mission.
Impact College offers these trainers the opportunity to work with a qualified team and transform their content into easy deliverable online courses that are now available to a much wider audience at a much lower cost. The platform, through its various features, encourages interaction between trainers and trainees and leaves room for ample human interaction whether it be via video conferencing, forums or buddy drives where people can upload their questions and their work for peer review.
We have drawn 5 user journeys that capture how we serve the people and the organizations that train and need to be trained.
1. D has just graduated with a degree in International Development. She is looking for jobs but she doesn't seem to have the hard skills required to get the job she wants. The job she wants needs her to know how to use log frames. She is flummoxed and doesn't have the time or the money to go to an extension school.
2. S got a promotion. He is very excited to start his first-day at work. He finds out that his team is hoping that he is able to optimize Google Adwords to increase donations. He's worried because he doesn't know how to use that program.
3. T is a well-known trainer. She teaches people how to negotiate better. She needs to reach more people with her training and she needs a platform and a team that'll hold her hand through the process.
4. R has joined a new organization but he doesn't know how their design programs with their partners.
5. B runs a global digital campaigning organizations that also trains people to become online campaigners.
These 5 stories talk about some of the different users we are targeting. Impact College functions as a B2B as well as a B2C service.
How We Do It
Watch this video to learn about our theory of change and how we do it.
Try It Out:
Demo link: http://www.impact.college/
Demo Username: demouser
Demo Password: demouser@2017
Our Development Schedule
NOTE: We are making edits on an almost daily basis, so please let us know if the links do not work.