How To Create A Course For Nonprofits To Sell

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Creating courses can be an effective way of generating additional revenue for your nonprofit while also educating people about your work.

Nonprofits usually have a unique level of authority that can be used to make better courses and sell more of them. For example, if a Husky rescue creates a course about “How to look after your Husky”, you won’t need to research the content for the course, it will be relatively easy to create the course and it will have high perceived authority.


Course Topics & Pricing

The next step is to figure out what you want to teach. It needs to meet these criteria:

  • You’re passionate about it.
  • You have the expertise.
  • There is an unsatisfied demand for it

You don’t have to be an advanced expert to create an online course but you do need to be more knowledgeable than the people you will teach.

Make a list of the specific course topics that you ‘plan’ to offer and how much you ‘plan’ to charge for the course. These are not final decisions.

Just make a list based on your best judgment for now because this list will be adjusted (or replaced) based on the work you will do in the next steps.

Customer / Donor Research 

After deciding on the course topics that you ‘plan’ to offer you need to make sure that your prospective customers really do want those courses.

The question you’re trying to answer is this: is there an unsatisfied demand for the course that you want to offer? If the answer is yes, you’re good to go.

If the answer is no, then you need to spend time looking for an unsatisfied demand that you’re capable of addressing.

Go to social groups (like Facebook groups), Quora, and old-school industry forums to see what your prospective customers are talking about.

What are their pain points? How can you reduce or remove the pain? Make a list of specific pain points that you can solve with specific lessons in your course. 

You should also be getting a feel for how much your solution is worth to them. How much would they pay to solve this problem?

Based on this research, adjust your course topics and pricing accordingly.

Watch my video about ‘Customer Research’ to get more detail about how to do this.

Competitor Research

 The simplest way to do competitor research is to look at the courses, website, social presence, and reviews of your competitors.

How do you compare to your competitors? What are they doing well? What are they not doing well? Remember to look at your competitors’ reviews to see what people like and don’t like in order to get ideas about what you can do better.

How much are they charging? What are your prospective customers saying about the price?

Based on this research, adjust or refine your course topics and/or price accordingly.

Watch my video about ‘Competitor Research’ to get more detail about how to do this.

Unique Selling Proposition

Before finalizing the course topics you need a “unique selling proposition” (USP). The one question that every potential customer will ask is, why should I choose your course?

You cannot reasonably expect to succeed if you don’t have a good answer to that question. Your answer to this question could be the difference between success and failure. 

If you don’t have a clear answer to this question go back to the customer research and the competitor research and look for a common pain point that has not been addressed (or not addressed very well) by the existing courses offered by your competitors.

Delivering The Course

What is the most engaging and effective way to deliver your course content? You can get a guide from your competitors and the reviews of your competitors.

Course length: There’s no right or wrong. It simply needs to be as long or as short as it needs to be to deliver on the promise you made in your marketing.

Lesson length: A large number of short lessons is usually better than a small number of long lessons because it makes it easier for students to find specific answers to specific questions without having to work through large chunks of content.

Text vs video vs audio: Again, there’s no right and wrong. What do your customers want or expect? Does your course content require visual demonstrations? What are your competitors doing?

Do you want to avoid being on camera? Do you want to avoid using your voice? Do you have access to the hardware and software required to make videos? Just select the best option based on your circumstances then upgrade and improve over time.

Most courses can be created with slides and captured with a ‘screencast’ software so the time and effort involved with making the course ready for sale will mostly depend on the time and effort you put into the content rather than the production.

When delivering your courses, your primary goal should be to exceed the expectations of your customers so that they become repeat customers. They will also provide good reviews and testimonials and that will help you get new customers.

  • This is the minimum that your customers expect:
  • Clear course outline that allows people to easily find what they need
  • Clear structure and communication within the course and each lesson
  • Links to any resources mentioned in your course

Marketplace vs Your Website

You can sell your course on an online marketplace like Udemy or you can sell it yourself from your website.

The advantage of using a marketplace is that they have an audience that is already interested in your course but there is a lot of competition so you might be forced to sell your course for a very low price (it could be as low as $10.00).

If you sell the course from your own website, you will need to do your own marketing to get customers but you can charge what you think your course is worth (for example, $995.00).

Customer Satisfaction

After a student completes the course you need to review everything in order to figure out what you can improve:

  • Send the student a survey.
  • After completing the survey, ask them for a review or testimonial




This article was created by the team an IIMAGINE. Create a free account to get alerts about new articles and get access to multiple tools and strategies for growing your nonprofit and maximizing your impact.


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