12 Ways to Train Your Staff on a Limited Budget

RAFT Team, May 8, 2023

Ongoing training for your SV and DV staff is crucial for their well-being, growth, and increased resilience. But when faced with limited resources or uninterested leadership, finding unconventional ways to educate your team becomes necessary. In this article, we’ll explore 12 practical strategies to train your staff on a limited budget. 

1. Seek Free or Low-Cost Online Resources to Train Your Staff

There are many websites, blogs, and educational platforms that have resources to support sexual violence advocacy. Check out webinars, videos, or downloadable guides from reliable sources that cover relevant topics. 

Also, research materials to help teach efficient task management, time blocking, and prioritization skills so everyone can learn to manage time, energy, and resources more effectively.

2. Collaborate with Local Organizations

Build partnerships with local organizations or agencies that specialize in SV and DV advocacy work. By pooling resources and expertise, you can develop joint training sessions, share training materials, or organize workshops together. This collaboration not only enhances training opportunities but also builds a sense of community among advocates.

3. Access Professional Networks

Tap into the power of professional networks by connecting online with sexual violence advocates and professionals. Engage in forums, social media groups, and professional associations dedicated to this cause. These networks often share valuable resources, training opportunities, and insights. Taking part in discussions and knowledge-sharing sessions can significantly contribute to the development of your staff.

4. Tap into Community Resources

Expanding your reach within your local community can lead to valuable training opportunities. Engage with leaders, universities, and subject matter experts who may be willing to provide guest lectures or workshops. By sharing their expertise on relevant topics, they provide unique perspectives that can enrich your team's knowledge. Community resources can be a goldmine of information and inspiration, often available at reduced or no cost.

5. Develop Internal Training Materials

Your staff are your resident experts and, if provided the time and resources, most are more than capable of creating internal training materials. Identify those who can contribute their knowledge and skills to develop presentations, handouts, or guidelines. This collaborative approach not only enhances the team's overall knowledge but also empowers individual staff members by recognizing their unique expertise. Encourage continuous learning and knowledge sharing within your organization.

6. Cross-Train Within the Organization

Implement a cross-training program within your team to optimize resources and diversify skill sets. Encourage each staff member to specialize in a specific aspect of sexual violence advocacy and then share their knowledge with others. Allow a wide variety of avenues to share this knowledge, like presentations, interactive sessions, worksheets, or informal knowledge-sharing discussions. Cross-training promotes a supportive and collaborative environment, enhancing the overall effectiveness of your team.

7. Leverage Online Training Platforms

Explore online training platforms that offer courses specifically tailored to sexual violence advocacy. While some platforms require a fee, many offer free or low-cost options, like Udemy and LinkedIn Learning. These platforms often provide comprehensive modules and certificates upon completion, ensuring that your staff receives credible and recognized training.

8. Engage with Local Colleges and Universities

Reach out to local colleges and universities that offer programs or courses related to sexual violence advocacy, social work, psychology, or gender studies. Inquire about the possibility of collaborating on guest lectures, workshops, or internship opportunities for your staff. Academic institutions often have resources and expertise that you can tap into to help contribute to the professional development of your team. These all help you train your staff on a limited budget.

9. Organize Peer-to-Peer Learning Sessions

Encourage peer-to-peer learning within your organization by organizing regular learning sessions taught by your staff members. Each session can be dedicated to a specific topic or area of expertise, where one staff member presents and shares their knowledge with others. This approach fosters a collaborative learning environment, promotes engagement, and strengthens the overall skill set of your team.

10. Apply for Grants and Funding

Seek grants or funding opportunities specifically focused on sexual violence advocacy or staff training. Many foundations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies offer grants to support professional development initiatives. 

Research and identify potential funding sources that align with your organization's mission and objectives. Craft a compelling grant proposal highlighting the importance of staff training and the impact it will have on survivors, staff resilience, and the greater community.

11. Attend Conferences and Workshops

Although attending conferences and workshops may involve some costs, they can provide access to expert speakers, exposure to the latest research and best practices, and valuable networking opportunities. 

Because you don’t have to reimburse lodging or lose a day or two to travel, virtual conferences can be a lower cost experience. Consider having all staff meet as a group to attend and watch the events together on a big screen. This allows you to build greater rapport with your internal team and discuss topics and ideas in real-time.

Whether you choose an in-person or virtual program, plan your attendance strategically by selecting events that offer the most relevant content and align with your staff's training needs.

12. Establish Mentorship Programs

Develop mentorship programs within your organization to grow your team’s skill development. Pair experienced staff members with newer or less experienced advocates for guidance, support, and continued learning. 

Mentoring relationships provide an opportunity for staff to learn from each other, share insights, and build a strong professional network within your organization. It also gives the mentor and mentee greater job satisfaction!

While training your staff on a limited budget and disinterested leadership can present challenges, they should not hinder your efforts to train and grow your staff’s capacity. By leveraging free or low-cost resources, collaborating with local organizations and broader professional networks, and developing internal training materials with your staff, you can equip your team with the knowledge and skills needed to make even more of a difference. 

Continue to advocate to your leadership team for professional development and ongoing education. A well-trained staff is crucial for effective sexual violence advocacy and support, and these skills and support build resilience, stronger self-care practices, and on-the-job satisfaction.