I’ve always loved the scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon’s character tells a Harvard student he’s dropped over a hundred thousand dollars on an education he could have received at the library. I believe education is invaluable and encourage people to at least go for their BA, but not having money shouldn’t keep you from continuing your education. If we want to keep learning, but don’t have the funds for grad school (and don’t want to keep piling on student loans!), we just have to be a little more creative about how we continue to learn. So here are five ways we can continue to learn about nonprofits without spending a dime (i.e. Good Will Hunting style).
- Free Webinars: You can find webinars on all sorts of subjects these days. For free nonprofit webinars, check out Wild Apricot’s blog. They compile and post a list of free nonprofit webinars every month. Check out September’s list. You can also do a quick search online or keep an eye out on websites like www.philanthropy.com for live chats.
- Free Books/Ebooks: I don’t just mean the library. Lots of nonprofit rock stars have released e-books that can be downloaded for free. Again, you can find some just by doing a quick search online. I’ve also started compiling a list of them on my Books page.
- Community Events/Seminars: Keep an eye out for local events like seminars, symposiums, etc. Sign up for e-newsletters, check up on websites (local colleges/universities, organizations that serve as community hubs, etc.) regularly. For those looking for events in South Florida, I’ve started compiling a list of events that I have heard about on my Local Events page.
- Volunteering: I’m still working on this myself, but finding an organization with volunteer opportunities in areas you’d like to grow can end up being a great win/win relationship. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity check out www.serve.gov , www.idealist.org , or www.volunteermatch.org
- Conversations: Talking to leaders within your organization, in your community, etc. can provide invaluable insight. There’s really nothing like hearing directly from someone who currently has your dream job or who is a pro in your niche. Ask questions and remember to use your active listening skills.
- Social Media: I’m a bit late in the game here. I just really started realizing the potential in this area earlier this year, but when used correctly social media can provide you a plethora of valuable information. I absolutely love Twitter for this very reason. Follow the right people and organizations, and a lot of the opportunities mentioned above will show up in your stream.