On a webinar I hosted recently, we had an institution sign up a large group of attendees. Including multiple team members is common, but this time something stood out to me: they had invited their student assistants.

I loved this immediately! Talk about a thoughtful (and easy) way to nurture talent, interest, and a culture of philanthropy in an up-and-coming group of professionals. It also made me think about trainings. Specifically, who we as leaders offer them to, who we exclude, and how we make them stick.

One thing COVID brought us is an increase in virtual trainings. Conferences, webinars, and other trainings have become more accessible than ever. This accessibility offers leaders an incredible opportunity to open up our thinking about who we’re inviting to participate in these professional development opportunities.

By being more expansive in our invitations, we’re more inclusive of a diverse group of employees — supporting professional development and career growth, while also introducing our important work to a wider potential talent base.

By inviting administrative team members and student assistants, we demonstrate our commitment to their growth and we expand their understanding of the field — building their own buy-in, skill sets and enthusiasm for our wider charge.

And, by inviting colleagues outside the target audience — for example, inviting donor relations or strategic talent management professionals to a webinar for gift officers, or inviting faculty or programmatic partners to a conference session for donor relations professionals — we provide additional understanding and clarity that can lead to better working partnerships.

We should also be thinking more broadly about how we follow up on those learnings. For example, bringing a wider audience together to brainstorm key take-aways and how to implement learnings. The broader the representation in those conversations, the deeper the buy-in … and the more effective our efforts overall.

The tools to build culture, knowledge, and growth opportunities are, quite literally, right at our fingertips. Let’s use them today for as many team members as possible!

Looking for practical, strategic professional development opportunities for your team? Check out KDD Philanthropy webinars, which offer a one-price structure that allows as many colleagues from one institution to attend.

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