Self-direct your learning to advance YOUR career, for free

Posted by | August 5, 2019 | For your career, How to be awesome at your job, Work tips

“I’ve had too much professional development”, said no one ever in the do-good sector.

A common theme I hear is that your organisation lacks a dedicated professional development budget and aren’t investing in you. While this mentality definitely needs to change in the do-good sector, the good news is that today, if you want to develop yourself, the only thing needed, is YOU (and probably a device that can connect to the internet).

In today’s world, the traditional barriers to learning are gone. Options for self-education and lifelong learning are endless. The great news for the often cash-strapped do-good sector (and employees who want to take their learning into their own hands), is that many of these learning opportunities also come with my favourite price tag: FREE.

There are amazing resources at your fingertip, delivered to your computer, via your phone, and at a community space near you, to help advance you and your work (and in the process your career!). It can be a bit overwhelming navigating the options available, so I have listed my fave FREE resources for the do-good sector. If you are ready to invest in yourself and embark on a new learning adventure, check them out below!


#1. Learning how to learn

Not sure where to begin with learning? How about arming yourself with some powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects? Coursera offer this free course: Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects that gives you easy access to invaluable learning techniques, it also covers illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects. Sign up for this free course here.

I’ve just learned about mind palaces, and my mind is blown! I was able to remember 50 new Māori words in a day – and they are still tucked away in my memory palace. What new ways can you learn to help you learn more?


#2. Online courses galore

There are so many free online courses (or courses for a fraction of what you might have expected to pay a decade ago). Here are some of my top picks to try out:

  • Kahn Academy [View page] A completely FREE resource. Their motto is “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” From basic math to macroeconomics, entrepreneurship to growth mindset.
  • Udemy [View page] Use the word “FREE” in the search and you’ll find hundreds of courses, which can usually be completed in around 10 hours or less. From refining your writing skills or learning to build a website, the possibilities are endless. They also have a variety of low cost courses covering topics like Digital marketing for non-profits & charitiesHow to write a sponsorship proposal that earns and more.
  • Codeacademy [Visit page] An online interactive platform that offers FREE coding classes in 12 different programming languages.
  • [View page ] Lynda (now called LinkedIn Learning) is one of the best-known platforms for professional and personal development. It has such a variety of courses from photography to software development, Excel to SEO. While there is a cost, it’s pretty reasonable, and if you are lucky, your local library might provide you with free access. I know Wellington City Library users can access this for free with their library card details, and it is probably the same across the country.

#3. Nonprofit-specific 

Want something with a nonprofit edge? Here are a variety of global resources for you to tap into, including:

  • NonprofitReady  [View page] Their mission is to enable nonprofit professionals and volunteers to develop their career and do more good by providing high quality, relevant online learning resources at zero cost. From fundraising to finance, governance to HR, they cover a wide variety of topics to help advance the do good sector.
  • Techsoup New Zealand [View page] a programme run by Connecting Up, Inc. This is the brand under which Connecting Up and TechSoup administer technology donation and discount programs of companies such as Microsoft, Google, SAP  – and many more – to eligible not-for-profit organisations in New Zealand (if you are at a charity and don’t know about the massive discounts they also provide, check out techsoup now!!). Connecting Up provide a variety of information, products, resources and programs including recorded webinarsevents and workshops.
  • Nonprofit Tech For Good [View page] focuses on providing useful, easy-to-understand news and resources related to nonprofit technology, online communication, and mobile and social fundraising. They also have a number of webinars, where you can learn from the world from your desk – with your snacks on hand. Don’t fancy getting up at 2am for the live webinar from the US? Many webinars offer recordings to people that sign up but don’t attend, so make sure you sign up and tune in later.

#4. Meetups

  • lets you see what’s happening in your area, and helps you meet up with like minds to learn new skills (often free of charge) and  learn new perspectives.
  • Toastmasters If you are looking to build confidence by learning public speaking, impromptu speaking, using gestures, body language, voice and presentation, then check out With over 300 active clubs throughout NZ, toastmasters have clubs where ever you are.
  • Comms Collective have some great events and resources for the nonprofit comms world. More here.

#5. Resources with a Kiwi twist

  • CommunityNet Aotearoa [View page] A local online hub where you can find and share resources designed to strengthen community organisations.
  • Te Wānanga o Aotearoa  [Visit page] There are various te reo courses for FREE across Aotearoa. I am currently learning the language basics and about tikanga Māori through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. They provide a no fees, 12-month course you can do from home, or others with weekly classes in various locations. If you can’t commit to this level of learning, I am also currently loving the Drops app where I learn five minutes of new kupu (words) a day, from my phone. They have a variety of other languages you can learn too.


Do you have any other free do-good resources to share that you have used for your own professional development? Make sure to add them in the comments below!


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