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Getting Value from Training

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There is no substitute for professional development and being a life-long learner. All professionals need to step out of the day to day to be immersed in new thinking, alternative approaches to challenges and stimulation of our creative side.

There are a confounding number of training offerings for advancement professionals that offer a wide range of subject matter and teaching approaches. If we were to define the range, it is from books and research articles, to webinars, to conference formats of 60 or 90 minute sessions, to multi-day immersion experiences.

For the most part, you get what you pay for. Books and articles aside, webinars offer exposure to content and an experienced (presumably) trainer channeled through a flat screen and speakers. There is very little ability or opportunity to interact with the trainer, leaving many questions unanswered and affording little opportunity to “digest” the material.

Professional conference have longed struggled with delivery formats that tend to be little more than 60 – 90 minute sessions of lecture styled presentations that are confined to a specific topic that often needs to be “shoehorned” into a short presentation window. The advantage to this format is variety, the opportunity to pick and choose your topics throughout the course of a day or two.

Increasingly, we at Copley Raff are fielding inquires about and providing training sessions that use a highly interactive, longer duration and content diffuse model. Conference organizers are carving out portions of a larger conference, or adding a day preceding a conference to hold full day sessions that address higher order advancement topics. These are typically reserved for senior advancement professionals and are offered as a way to keep senior folks engaged in their professional associations.

We model our sessions based on the very successful experience with our Philanthropy Leadership Advancement Nexus Master Gift Officer (PLAN-MGO) four day immersion event.
These sessions are as much about the content as they are about embedding more global lessons into the psyche of the participants. Rather than retaining 15-20% of the content which is typically the outcome of conference model training, we strive for much higher retention by using power learning techniques, changing the “state” of mind so participants remain fresh and attentive, and by learning by doing and working with colleagues on a variety of content complementary exercises.

For professional development experiences to “stick” they need to be relevant beyond the work environment; they need to offer activities that can be practiced and mastered and that will improve work enjoyment and effectiveness; and, they need to make sense in the context of work, family and play.

It is time to reconsider how you spend your professional development dollars and to invest in programs that instill lessons that embody alternative thinking and approaches for application to the challenges and opportunities of our workday and profession.

Your takes:

1. You need to be more discerning when choosing professional development opportunities to ensure you are receiving appropriate value for your investment of time and money.

2. Spend time seeking out professional development opportunities that may be tailored to your needs and become engaged with it.

3. Remember that you are you, whether at home or on the job, so choose training experiences that cater to your whole being.

For more information about Copley Raff and its spectrum of not for profit consulting services, please see