News story

Consortium reaches milestone developing charities' skills

UKLearning NewsCharity Learning Consortium

The Charity Learning Consortium has reached a milestone, bringing more than 150 third sector organisations together to save money and collaborate towards eLearning success.

Members of the Consortium enjoying the annual Charity Learning conference.
Members of the Consortium enjoying the annual Charity Learning conference. 

The Charity Learning Consortium has reached a massive milestone in its history, and now has more than 150 membership organisations. This growth has resulted in more collaboration between members, which is one of the founding principles of the Consortium.

Members effectively split the cost of eLearning between them, paying an annual subscription based on the size of their organisation. This makes eLearning affordable but collaborating with peers and working in partnership with the Consortium is what makes eLearning a success.

When he first had the idea for the Consortium, back in 2001, it took founder Martin Baker four years to set up a pilot group of just six charities. Some are still members today. Doreen Miller, a founding member, and now Global Head of Learning and Organisational Development at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has paid tribute to Martin’s vision:

“It is thanks to Martin that the voluntary sector has access to affordable, good quality eLearning. He embodies the ethos of the charity world, demonstrating respect through his efforts to ensure a more level playing field and giving his time and energy to this cause.

“He looks for opportunities to problem solve and innovate and understands that resilience is required in our world, when funds become more difficult to raise. He’s always looking for ways to add value to the services we can provide to our beneficiaries.”

Martin Baker, CEO, explained that the Consortium started from a simple idea, when a charity asked him for a quote for eLearning: “They loved the idea, but it was just far too expensive. So I had this crazy idea of splitting the cost of the licence between 10 charities and it grew from there.”

He created a customised learning management system using Moodle and licensed in eLearning content based on the group’s specific needs. To keep costs to a minimum, every three months one of the charities would host everyone getting together “and that was when the magic started to happen,” said Martin. “The day would start with a case study of what was working and what wasn’t. That naturally turned into a discussion between like-minded individuals from like-minded organisations. The whole ethos of the Consortium has grown from there.”

The Consortium now has more than 150 members, regular member meetings with dual stream workshops, guest speakers and facilitated networking sessions, plus an annual conference and awards. The original format of bringing like minded people together remains the same.

“Collaboration is at the heart of everything that we do. And in feedback our members tell us that it’s the most valuable part of membership,” said Martin. “Together we are stronger than on our own, and it’s as simple as that.”

Research by Towards Maturity supports this, revealing that members save twice as much money on L&D compared to non-members in the sector. Members are also twice as likely to report positive changes in staff behaviour and almost three times more likely to report that using learning technologies has improved their organisation’s productivity.

Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning & Development Content, CIPD, also paid tribute to Martin’s achievement: “Martin has a passion and vision to support effective learning in organisations. Through the Charity Learning Consortium he has pioneered and supported L&D professionals and learners through the provision and sharing of excellent content.

“His commitment and ability to forge partnership working between learning professionals has an immense impact. Social collaboration is a key means by which professional development takes place and Martin is a role model in establishing shared environments in which people can develop their practice and thrive.”

Martin will be talking about the benefits of membership of the Charity Learning Consortium at stand F122 at the CIPD's Festival of Work, Olympia London this week 12-13 June. 

Doreen Miller talks about the benefits of membership of the Charity Learning Consortium