We use cookies to help us provide you with the best experience, improve and tailor our services, and carry out our marketing activities. For more information, including how to manage your cookie settings, see our privacy notice.


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Covid-19 update: Government guidance changed on 19 July 2021 - we're currently updating our information in response to this. In the meantime, visit the government's guidance on lifting restrictions.

Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

How to train and develop people without spending a fortune

When an organisation has a tight budget, expenditure on training, learning and development activity is usually one of the first things to go. This is something of a false economy though, since your people become less effective, less efficient and less productive – meaning your organisation will soon follow suit. Fortunately, learning and development isn’t all about sending people on training courses that cost about the same as a week’s holiday in Tenerife. Here’s how to develop people on a slashed budget, without sacrificing quality...


Find the freebies

They’re out there; you just need to know where to look! Many solicitors’ firms run free legal update seminars on topics such as employment law, charity law and people management topics. You can also try local branches of professional membership bodies such as the CIPD, as they usually have a programme of speakers and seminars, and you don’t always need to be a member. Take a look at business support services such as City Business Library, who also have a huge range of free events on offer covering a multitude of business topics. Not only can your staff increase their knowledge and skills in various areas, but they can also use many events to network over drinks and nibbles. Free publicity for your cause and free food - what’s not to like?!


Develop your internal trainers

You probably have a wealth of expertise and specialist skills and knowledge in your organisation – you just need to tap into it! Probably the only thing that is preventing some of your more experienced staff and volunteers from effectively sharing their expertise with others, is a lack of instructional skills. Investing in developing some of your key people as internal trainers, coaches and mentors, start delivering internal training and development programmes, and you will get a return on your investment many times over.


Use different types of on-the-job learning

Don’t just limit people to the ‘sitting with Nellie’ approach to on-the-job learning. Instead, try using secondments, workshadowing, action learning etc. to give people new responsibilities and experiences at work. Shaddowing is also a great way for people to understand what it will take for them to climb within your organisation. Doing so gives them an insight into the repsonsibilities and skills required to do the job that they want to step into in the future. Not only will they develop new skills, knowledge and insights,  they will also be increasing their promotion opportunities – making it easier (and cheaper!) for you to fill vacancies internally.


Encourage self-managed learning online

Encourage and enable people to learn for themselves, using the myriad of free resources available on the internet. Research and reading suit those who like to learn in their own time and reflect on what they’re learning. If people don’t like to read stuff, YouTube, Managers PitStop and KnowHow's Study Zone are just some of the excellent sources of business training videos – and since many are short bite-size clips, they’re ideal for people with short attention spans or those who have less time to commit to a full day course. There are also plenty of resources specifically for charity professionals. Interactive e-learning activities are great for those who like a bit more audience participation. So there’s something for everyone!


Use a smaller training provider

Some small training organisations and sole traders can be cheaper than the big-name, big-size providers. This doesn’t mean that they fail to deliver quality sessions  – in fact, independent trainers are often more likely to give you a personalised service that is tailored to the needs of your organisation. The Institute of Fundraising has training courses starting at £30 per person for small charities and the Small Charities Coalition has a number of courses for free. 


Get some funding

As with freebies, there are grants and funding sources available, you just need to know where to look! A great, if rather convoluted, way of getting a significant grant is Train to Gain's Leadership and Management fund, where (subject to some eligibility requirements) you can claim up to £1000 in matched funding. IBP and Interchange Trust can both help you access the fund - website details below!

Further information

Some of the content for this HowTo was contributed by CharityJob, an NCVO Trusted Supplier, who provide a recruitment site for voluntary sector jobs.

Get more tips on recruiting and managing staff in our knowledge bank section.

Guardian Voluntary Sector Network ran a Q&A session called How to meet your charity's training needs on a budget which also has lots of useful suggestions.

Sources of cost-effective or free learning!

Useful learning websites



Page last edited Jan 03, 2018 History

Help us to improve this page – give us feedback.