McCrudden Training has recently undertaken a small piece of research to understand the approach taken to training, learning and development by a range of medium-sized charities that operate across the UK.  Here is a summary of what we learned about training in the third sector:

Uncovering training needs

The majority of charities surveyed by McCrudden Training had an identified person who took the lead in co-ordinating learning and development for the charity.  The most common approach these people took to understanding the training needs of the staff and volunteers was through some form of Training Needs Analysis (TNA).  Some were cascaded through managers who assessed the learning needs of their own local teams and reported back, others circulated questionnaires and surveys about training needs to staff and volunteers across the organisations.   A small number of the organisations we spoke to only managed mandatory training.   Co-ordinators held a grid of what mandatory training was due to be completed by whom.

The current ‘hot topics’ in the sector reported by our training needs survey included Safeguarding Training for vulnerable adults and children, HR topics and specialist First Aid training like Pediatric First Aid.

If your organisation would like more information on how to complete a Training Needs Analysis, there is a free template available on our resources page, or email us to request a FREE, no obligation training needs survey conducted by one of our highly experienced voluntary sector consultants.

Sourcing and providing training

Most medium-sized national charities were delivering their training in-house using their own staff.  This approach gives charities total control over the nature of training delivery, but may hold within it some limitations.  In-house trainers may not have knowledge in the wide range of essential subject matters, and to remain at their best (to ensure return on investment within their training) will need to access trainer development opportunities.  This is where organisations like McCrudden Training can help, by providing subject matter experts to develop training for delivering by an in-house team or providing advanced training skills, workshops and supplying trainer’s toolkits to ensure that in-house trainers are delivering learning that sticks!

A small number had their own ‘training colleges’.  One even held accredited centre status in their own right to deliver City & Guilds training.  However, this was a charity at the larger end of the groups we spoke to, and the cost of achieving centre status would most likely be too high for many charities to achieve.

Using external training providers

While training being sourced from external training providers was predominately for specialist topics, for example Health and Safety topics, many of the charities had a list of existing training suppliers that they had used over a period of time.  Although this ‘proven track record’ approach provides the buyer with confidence around the quality of training, no charities indicated how frequently they review and ‘market test’ their list of suppliers.  In these competitive times,  not reviewing your ‘approved suppliers’ could mean missing out on opportunities to price match against other quality suppliers, find cost-effective training innovations in the wider market place that you were unaware of, or even just reassure yourself that you are still getting the best value for money from training providers.

Those that did research other training companies were most likely to use search engines like Google to source potential training providers.  Only one charity that we spoke to was still able to access supportive training through their local authority.

Delivering training

Every charity we spoke to continued to favour face-to-face training as the method of delivery, and ninety percent continue to use this as their sole method of training delivery.  No more than ten percent of learning co-ordinators within charities were looking more towards e-learning opportunities.  Those that did were offering web-based learning particularly for core subjects.

The value of accredited training

All of the charitable organisations that we spoke to believed that it was essential for mandatory training to be linked to accreditation.  For example, McCrudden Training offers accredited Health and Safety training via our centre status with the Royal Society of Public Health.


For more information on this survey, or McCrudden Training’s work with the voluntary sector, including:

please click on any of the above links, or call us on 0845 257 5871.