PERSONAL TRAINER

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo)

Q: We are drawing up our budget. Things are difficult, and the chief executive has proposed cutting out the training budget, which is around £5,000. Is this wise?

A: It most certainly isn't! But this does illustrate a particular problem for our sector - we find it difficult to raise funds to support our infrastructure.

For example, some reactionary funders still refuse to accept the arguments for paying the full costs of service delivery. So professional development in our sector is generally weak and under-funded.

For a growing sector, this is intolerable. Of course we are lucky to attract many talented staff and volunteers. But skills need to be updated, so professional development should be a continuous process.

Training should focus on the individual's particular needs. As well as being a duty on the organisation it is also important that each of us signs up to continuous professional development. Training should not be seen as something that is "done to you".

However, I do not want to be too tough on your chief executive - hard choices need to be made. You might aim to reduce the costs of training.

Bursaries for training courses are often available. By being inventive, you might also secure the support of other organisations, including companies from the commercial sector, to provide in-house training.

Let us remember that professional development is not just about training courses. Training must cover a wide range of organisational needs, such as leadership, IT, legal updates, diversity and skills development.

A 'sheep dip' approach to training is generally unhelpful.

Mentoring and work shadowing, for example, do not have to cost money at all. Many of the professional associations such as Acevo, the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Directors' Group provide affordable development and access to external courses. Acevo itself runs a range of high-quality, low-cost courses.

So why not use this crisis as an opportunity to audit your organisation's approach to training and development? Rather than worrying that you have not got the money, think of practical ways of making up the shortfall and even expanding opportunities. But it would be a disaster if you allowed this to affect your organisation's approach to the development of its staff and volunteers.

Organisations that get their training and development right have understood that delivering strategic goals requires investment in its staff.

Send your questions to: stephen.bubb@haynet.com.

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