If you are a nonprofit director, you know that the budget line item for training and development is often the first one to go when things get tight.

But this is SO short-sighted!

Too often, visionless Boards start cutting things out instead of ramping up the fundraising (but that’s a topic for another day!).

Whether it’s a book, a workshop, or a coach, investing in yourself has a tremendous impact on your nonprofit organization, its mission, and the people who benefit.

When you strengthen your skills, you strengthen your ability to lead and to get the job done.  You become the kind of leader that people want to follow.

Investing in yourself has a magnificent ripple effect that touches just about everything in the organization, because you start doing your job better. Fundraising capacity building will pay off big for years to come.

Just in case you need them, here are some reasons WHY you want to invest in yourself and your organization.

  • It’s the best return on your investment.  For a nonprofit, there’s no better place to invest money. Staff development is the most important key for future success.  The dividends from investing in your knowledge are many – new skills, new resources, improved commitment, an attitude adjustment – the list goes on.
  • It ensures the future success of your organization.  If you want to make sure that your organization is around in 1 year or 5 years or 20 years, invest in it today!  How else will you keep up with the latest trends in fundraising and nonprofit management?
  • It shows that you’re serious about what you’re doing.  People who are serious about success invest in themselves.  They attend workshops and conferences to increase their knowledge about their field.  They do what it takes to make sure they’re playing at the top of their game.
  • It demonstrates your commitment to your mission.  Leaders of organizations that have risen to the top of the pack have the attitude of doing whatever it takes.  They are uber-committed to their mission and the people they serve.  You better believe they are investing in their people!
  • It shows you are committed to being around for the long haul.  By investing in yourself and your nonprofit, you show that you are committed to long-term success, not some flash-in-the-pan adventure.

Obviously, you want to make a good decision about the things you invest in.

Look for opportunities that support your learning style and those that are a good value financially.  I don’t mean only jump on cheap things.  Instead, make sure that what you get for the money is well worth it.  I’ve spent thousands of dollars on coaching programs that returned value to me like mad in terms of new revenue, new opportunities, enhanced skills, new connections, and more.

Once you decide which opportunities look good to you, take advantage of them!  Don’t purchase books then put them on the shelf or buy a ticket for a workshop only to spend half of it in the hallway on the phone.

Commit yourself to learning all you can from them.  Then implement.  It does no good to learn new things if you don’t put them into action.  Taking action and moving forward will nearly always lead to success.



  1. I was in a planning retreat when the executive director said in front of staff and the board she would not provide training opportunities because staff get trained and then leave. I tried to deflect it but she repeated it again 2 more times. Ouch!

  2. Sandy, staff development and Board training is also highly favorable in a grant funder’s eyes. They want to know that they’re investing in programs run by qualified staff and leadership. Very good points!

  3. I also think that keeping the training and development budget says your organization isn’t going to do the easy thing but are willing to do the analysis and see where cuts should be made..

    You are right, Sandy, training has an ROI and training budgets should only be cut when training dollars are getting the lowest ROI. It does require some budget savvy to decide where cuts should be made strategically.

    Kuddos to nonprofits willing to put the effort into evaluating the impacts of budget cuts.

  4. So often it’s a poverty mentality that gets in the way of an organization’s success. The focus is on what can’t be done, rather than coming up with HOW it could be accomplished (whatever ‘it’ happens to be at the time). Being a not-for-profit doesn’t mean that you’re not supposed to spend money… Invest in your success – it shows that you’re serious about working to improve the community.

  5. One way I’ve seen organizations be effective in maintaining their training and staff development budget is to include board members in some of the workshops, webinars or other sessions staff attends. OR give them a recap immediately following the session that really excites them about the session attended.

    Then, first-hand, the board can see the value and can be proponents of the funds rather than eliminating those funds when times are challenging.

  6. Also also, keeping the money in the training budget means that you will be showing your staff that you care about their professional development. Which is important! It keeps them motivated for the long haul.

    Thanks for reminding us to keep that budget up for training. It’s how we can all move forward as a sector!



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