Home Blog & Media 2018: A Look Back at a Year in NGO Learning

2018: A Look Back at a Year in NGO Learning

January 14, 2019

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Chris Proulx

Chief Growth Officer, US

Over 30,000 people engaged in at least one learning activity, course, or conference with Humentum in 2018—from nearly every country on the planet. With your trust, we continue to deliver and expand upon the most comprehensive curriculum for NGOs across a wide range of capability areas both on-location in over 40 countries, and digitally on any device. When I reflect back on the year, there are several initiatives and milestones which reflect our direction of travel as we aim to be even more accessible, affordable and relevant.

Agile Response Aimed to Scale: Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Safeguarding

This topic was not even on our course development radar screen as we started the year, but the rapid emergence of #AidToo and the need for NGOs to strengthen their approaches required an agile response. Our membership team convened several rountables and virtual symposia from which we were able to better understand some of the key training gaps in the sector. 

We quickly piloted a course aimed at managers that would go beyond compliance and would focus on building a culture of respect. We learned from that first session, that the bigger need was for HR and Safeguarding managers to be better equipped to lead and cascade this effort internally. So, we pivoted the course quickly to be more akin to a Training of Trainers (ToT) and made the course materials available on a licensing basis so NGOs can quickly scale up their capabilities internally. Several members have now reached deep into their country offices and have delivered training to hundreds more people than we could have alone. The materials are now also available in French, and we would welcome a partner to help bring it into Spanish in 2019.

In addition, we packaged our relevant existing online courses, available to Humentum Learning Services (HLS) members, into an easy-to-deploy learning pathway</a>; we partnered with Bond to co-market and deliver our respective courses to each others’ members in DC and London; we embedded several related workshops and sessions into our OpEx DC 2018 conference; and are now partnering with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy and several INGOs to launch a MOOC on safeguarding principles early in 2019.

Partnering for New, Relevant and Best-Practice Content

Our focus on four core capability areas that drive operational excellence (compliance/risk managment, program management, financial management, and HR and learning) provides us with a canvas to also find and attract partners who can bring leading content and expertise to our members. By working more effectively together, we are reducing duplication and providing more cost effective solutons for the sector. 

In 2018, we worked with four partners to bring relevant content to our platforms. 

  • With Bond, we worked on three issues.(1) Around the issue of data transparency, we launched an online Flex course on how and why to pubish data to the IATI standard. The course launched in July and has already reached about 150 people in 93 organizations. The hands-on, practical approach means anyone can use the course to pubish their first set of data to the IATI platform (why IATI?).  The course will be offered quarterly, at a minimum, in 2019.

    (2) As our members seek to diversify their funding, we partnered with Bond to bring their well-respect DFID contracting courses to DC. The response was overwhelming with many organizations engaging to learn new approaches required by DFID. Both the Essentials and Advanced courses will again be offered in DC (and perhaps in either Nairobi or Joburg) in 2019.

    (3) And as mentioned above, we have been working closely with Bond on PSEAH and safeguarding so that both of our member communities can stay up to speed on the needs as well as donor requirements. On this core issue, collaboration and reducing dupication is a key benefit for the sector.

  • With the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, we launched the Agile Leadership onlie Flex course in October. For years, INGOs have trusted Maxwell to train their high potential leaders at their annual NGO Leadership Institute. This course is the first of what we hope to be a series of courses that will make some of the most important skills and topics from the Institute accessible globally in a convenient and affordable format.
  • NetHope and Humentum are working closely together to ensure that NGO employees have the skills eeded to thrive in the fast-changing digital environment. In 2018, we launched a skills survey to assess the baseline of capacity on our sector and led a co-creation workshop at the NetHope Global Summit around the specific capability of data—one of the areas that scored the lowest on the survey. In 2019, we will be launching new learning pathways with online courses for upskilling a wide range of roles at an INGO in digital skills. Watch for our first learning pathway in partnership with PluralSight  on the HLS platform in early 2019.
  • Finally, the merger of NetDimensions, our LMS platform partners for the HLS, into the Learning Technologies Group is opening up new partnership options. Eukleia is the first to come online. They will be providing a new pathway of global compliances courses for our HLS members, including content on GDPR, health and safety, and cybersecruity to name a few.


Digital Learning: reach, convenience and affordability

We continued our commitment to making the majority of our learning offer available digitally so that our members and others in the sector have access to a more globally accessible learning solution. In addition, we are increasing the frequency of our online courses to increase convenience and we reduced prices on several e-workshops to enhance affordability and accessibility. Our original Flex course, The Essentials of Project Management  (PMDPro) is now reaching over 1000 people with an innovative and award-winning approach to learning.

In 2018, we launched new e-workshops and flex courses—both provide interactive and social learning—with an emphasis on team-based learning in the e-workshops and more independent learning in the flex courses. New offerings in 2018 included IATI Publishing, Agile Leadership, Fighting Fraud, the  Essential Program Manager (PgMDPro), Budgeting Essentials and more. We are very excited about the launch of our FMDPro Flex course in March 2019 and two new Flex courses in USAID and Donor management also coming in early 2019.

Delivering Learning Closer to the Need

We have also been investing and innovating to bring learning closer to where most our community’s work is happening. We established several partnerships this year to offer our courses in new locations, languages and currencies—with local training providers and social enterprises who have deep expertise in the local context. Our partners are helping to deliver PMDPro, FMDPro and other content in Cox’s Bazar, Istanbul, Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan and Ethiopia—with more local partners to come. We ran learning hackathons in Nairobi, and with Telecom4Good and DisasterReady with refugee communities in Uganda. We continue to experiment with building a locally-led a social learning community in Latin America through our RedColaborar project. 

And, because we deliver close to 40% of our learning to NGO professionals in Africa, we are adding to our team in the region. We are welcoming Rachel Gathagu or our HLS team, Joan Asuma to our events team, and Mary Nyokabi to our registration team—all based in Nairobi. They are joining Sam Musoke our Regional Director for East Africa (based in Kampala) and Sareta Thomas, our Regional Director for Southern/West Africa (based in Pretoria). Our bold decision to become a 100% remote work team this year is helping us ot build a global talent pool so we can serve you where the work is happening. You can meet many of the Africa-based team at OpEX East Africa 2019 in Kampala March 26-28! (Yes, there is still time for you to submit a session proposal!)

Sneak Peak at 2019

The key themes for 2019 for us will be professional credentialing, global and digital reach, and organizational solutions. Soon, you will be hearing more about several intiiatives in each of these areas, including:

  • The launch of a new DPro certification in MEAL;
  • A more accessible way to earn the Certificate in USAID Assistance Management;
  • An online certification program aimed at human resources professionals in partnership with eCornell;
  • More accessible and relevant USAID learning offers;
  • The launch of digital skills learning pathway.


Happy New Year, thanks for your trust, and we look forward to working together in 2019!

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