Independent research by Towards Maturity launched at the CIPD Learning & Development Show reveals that when it comes to innovative learning, charities are championing the use of learning technologies, often beating their corporate and public sector counterparts in the benefits they are reaping.

The new Towards Maturity Benchmark study – “Innovative Learning in the Charity Sector” – launched today, shines the spotlight on the impact and benefits that charitable organisations are realising from implementing learning technologies. The study, the third in a series commissioned by the Charity Learning Consortium, assesses progress over the last 5 years comparing the findings with other sectors with some interesting results.

Martin Baker, CEO at the Charity Learning Consortium comments: “Towards Maturity’s research reveals that charities using learning technologies report increased levels of satisfaction amongst customers, staff and volunteers; reach more people with the learning that’s on offer and see an increase in qualifications. Staff are also generally more engaged with learning, whilst charities increase their productivity and reduce their overall training costs. It’s a great example of just what can be achieved – by any sector – by the smart use of technology for learning.”

For many in charitable organisations, the past 12 months has seen a focus on making the most of limited resources. The charity sector is investing an average of 14% of their learning budget to technology enabled learning. Whilst this is less than the 20% allocated within other sectors, the charity sector has high expectations about what it is looking to achieve.

The 2013-14 Towards Maturity benchmark gathered feedback from over 500 L&D leaders, 55 of which came from the charity sector. This new study specifically focuses on the charity sector. It shows that they are more likely to report that their technology enabled learning strategy is improving the induction process, increasing flexibility and access; increasing on the job productivity and improving time to competency, whilst reducing costs and time away from the job.

Some 27% of all formal learning is now e-enabled in charitable organisations (up from 21% in 2011) with over half of charity respondents using e-learning for compliance-related training. Whilst the charity sector e-enable less of their internal systems and L&D skills training than most, they are more likely to use technology to help tackle all other skills, including the ‘soft’ skills of leadership and management, team-working and communications.

In terms of bottom line business benefit from using learning technologies, charities report:

  • 25% increase in the speed of rollout of new IT applications
  • 14% increase in customer satisfaction
  • 15% increase in the ability to change procedures or products
  • 7% increase in productivity

In terms of learner benefits from using learning technologies, charitable organisations report:

  • 10% improvement in reaching time to competency
  • 16% increase in staff/volunteer satisfaction
  • 9% increase in qualifications gained by learners
  • 15% reduction in staff turnover

It is clear that bottom line value is being delivered without compromising efficiency. The benefits of using learning technologies in charities include:

  • 20% reduction in study time
  • 20% reduction in delivery time
  • 16% reduction in training costs
  • 13% increase in volume of training delivered

Laura Overton, MD of Towards Maturity and one of the report’s author says: “This report highlights how L&D leaders in the charity sector are really embracing the opportunity that a technology enabled learning strategy can offer. Over the past 5 years they have been actively using the Towards Maturity Benchmark to benchmark with each other and with peers in other sectors and the insight this gives is paying dividends in the results they are achieving and the speed in which they are achieving them.”

The bottom line results that charity organisations are achieving are considerable yet the sector is still looking to fully realise the full range of benefits they seek. A perceived lack of skills amongst staff to manage their own learning is reported by 67% of participants.

The full report: “Innovative learning in the Charity Sector”.
Notes to editors:

Data was gathered from 50+ L&D leaders in the charity sector as part of the 2013/14 Towards Maturity Benchmark Study in the summer of 2013.

Further findings:

Learning Technology tools in use in the charity sector include:

  • 86% use a Learning Management system
  • 76% off-the-shelf e-learning
  • 71% use mobile devices
  • 70% use enterprise-wide information services such as SharePoint
  • 62% use virtual meetings, such as Webex or LiveMeeting

Skills most likely to be e-enabled in the Charity Sector:

  • Health and safety (81% of skills delivery is supported by technology)
  • IT user skills (79%)
  • Communication skills (59%)
  • Team building skills (51%)

Top barriers to change:

  • Lack of skills amongst employees to manage own learning (67% reporting barrier)
  • Lack of learner ICT skills (63%)
  • Reluctance by line managers to support new ways of learning (58%)
  • Reluctance by learners to learn with new technology (63%)

The report also explores how the charity sector is supporting talent and performance and how it compares with others in terms of effective implementation strategies.

The report can be downloaded free of charge from An infographic is available:

About the Charity Learning Consortium

CLC enables cost effective, quality eLearning to be offered to more than 500,000 staff and volunteers across the third sector in the UK – engaging staff that other learning & development simply doesn’t reach.

More than that, its collaborative concept paves the way for eLearning success, with ongoing support, fantastic networking opportunities, relevant workshops and a dynamic Charity Learning Awards & Conference – with world class speakers who are experts in their field. As a result, independent research has found that Consortium members save twice as much money on L&D compared to non-members in the sector; are 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.

More than 120 charities, housing associations and not for profits already benefit from collaborating with CLC’s unique organisation: information about the Charity Learning Consortium is available at and via @charitylearning or telephone 08451 707 702.

About Towards Maturity

Towards Maturity is a benchmarking research company that provides independent expert advice and support to help organisations use learning technologies to accelerate business performance. It leverages the data of its in-depth Benchmark Study, the largest learning technology benchmark in Europe. Since 2003 over 2900 organisations and 10,000 learners have contributed to Towards Maturity’s leading benchmarks.

Thanks to the support of Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors (23 learning organisations), annual benchmarking findings, case studies and resources are available to download for free at To find out about Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors visit

To learn more about Towards Maturity’s unique benchmarking tools and models visit