Top 10 retraining and upskilling resources for charity leaders

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed charities’ organisation including the skills they need from their workers, trustees and volunteers.

This ranges from managing teams remotely to improving the digital skills needed to run virtual campaigns, deliver services and engage with the public online.

A gap in digital skills among charities during 2021 was specifically mentioned in the National Council for Voluntary Organisations Road Ahead report earlier this year, which sets out the challenges and trends in the voluntary sector for the year ahead.

This referenced the 2020 Charity Skills Report that found that more than a quarter of charities have been forced to cancel services during that year do to the charity or users lacking the necessary skills and technology.

Here we highlight the key retraining and upskilling resources for charity workers and volunteers to help them either improve in their existing roles or switch to new and emerging positions within charities.

Charity Job

There is a raft of charity sector courses promoted via the training portal section of recruiter Charity Job’s website. At the time of writing there were 44 courses listed including a course on dementia awareness.

Other courses cover issues such as drugs awareness and safeguarding, as well as a course by Solace Women’s Aid on understanding domestic abuse and coercive control.

As many charities broaden the scope of their support, charity workers and volunteers will increasingly need to increase their skills in supporting the wide range of vulnerable groups in need of help.

Reach Volunteering

Those from a range of sectors are likely to have valuable skills that charities can use. Similarly those looking for a change of career can learn from charities.

Volunteering can be a useful way to connect people with relevant skills and charities in need of help. Reach Volunteering is among organisations to help facilitate this by matching volunteers with charities.

At the time of writing, its website had more than 1,200 volunteer opportunities listed and more than 10,000 volunteers looking to put their skills to good use in a a not-for-profit role. Last year Reach matched more than 3,500 people and charities.

Centre for Creative Leadership

Those in the voluntary sector looking to take the next step into management and leading a charity’s organisation are supported by a range of leadership development courses and programmes. This includes the range of options offered by the Centre for Creative Leadership, such as its leadership training options like the Lead 4 Success course that supports people to develop their leadership, communication skills and to “inspire trust”.

Specialist programmes cover issues such as coaching, strategy and the specific challenges women face tackling “the infamous glass ceiling” of management.


The need for improved digital skills in charities is particularly urgent, as the NCVO’s Road Ahead report indicates. The charity CAST is among organisations dedicated to upskilling charities, to become a “more responsive, resilient and digitally enables social sector”.

This includes its free online course ‘Design Hops’, which aims to demystify technology and design and is aimed at those working for charities of all sizes. This involves a practical online course looking at digital design, problems and their solutions.

Charity Comms

From specialist communicators to small charity leaders taking on the role of media relations, sector body Charity Comms offers a range of training and mentoring opportunities.

For those looking to improve their communication skills, especially around digital, Charity Comms offers media workshops offering insights into the media as well as a raft of leadership courses. This includes a set of three workshops supporting senior communications professionals take the next step in their career into leadership.

Chartered Institute of Fundraising

This sector body offers a raft of courses and resources for those looking to launch a career in fundraising as well as hone their skills in boosting donations for good causes.

This includes an Introduction to Fundraising Course, which is aimed at charity workers with less than six months fundraising experience. It is also relevant for volunteers and trustees looking to expand their knowledge of fundraising as well as those outside of the charity sector looking for a career change into fundraising.

There is a raft of free to view webinars as well on offer from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, looking at improving skills in areas such as virtual fundraising and events.

National Council for Voluntary Organisations

For those looking to ramp up their skills or retrain in the charity sector the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) offers a range of training options. This includes online, eLearning, webinars, as well as face-to-face classroom learning.

Governance, strategy, financial sustainability and campaigning are among the issues its training covers. More information can be found in its latest training brochure, which is available on its website.


Cyber security is increasingly important for charities, especially amid heightened use of online across their organisation and the need to store data securely.

Among useful resources is Cybrary, which offers a range of training options for those already working in cyber security or looking to move into this emerging field.

Industry certification is available as well as advice from experienced cybersecurity experts.

Institute of Coding

From designing a website or app to using data to improve services, coding is increasingly important for charity professionals looking to ramp up their digital skills.

Among organisations that can help is the Institute of Coding, a national initiative set up by academics, training providers and professional bodies to improve UK workers’ digital skills.

Its resources include signposting a range of coding and technology courses UK wide. At the time of writing, this included more than 70 focusing on computer science and around 50 on coding.

Artificial Intelligence courses

The Institute of Coding also lists more than 30 courses looking at developing skills around artificial intelligence and machine learning. This includes a Machine Learning for Beginners course, from Newcastle based Northumbria University.

Another is a course by UAL: Creative Computing Institute to “Design a Feminist Chatbot”. Meanwhile, Coventry University’s Artificial Intelligence: Distinguishing Between Fact and Fiction is another course for those looking to retrain and upskill in this fast emerging area of charity work.

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