You Deserve It: Making the Pitch to Your Boss for Professional Development

You’re a life-long learner and a valuable asset for your organization. So, how do you convince your boss to let you continue learning through professional development opportunities?

Here are a few ideas for getting permission to learn more (and to have your organization chip-in some funds)!

Step 1

Pick an event that can help you get better at your job.

Whether the conference will help you accomplish your current work or achieve your future goals, your organization is more likely to invest in you if the investment also helps the organization.

Therefore, learn about the conference agenda and figure out why you want to attend. Is it skills-based learning, leadership development, network development or other activities that can be beneficial? Identify specific sessions or activities at the conference that will be useful and interesting to you.

Now that you’ve identified a great event, take a few minutes to make a personalized schedule of what your day(s) will include while you’re attending the event.

On your personalized schedule, make 2 columns. (Column 1) The time and name of the session or activity. (Column 2) The reason you think it’ll help you and your nonprofit.


Step 2

Make the pitch.

Now you’re ready to approach your boss. Whether you’re asking in-person or through a letter/email, get ready to explain what the event is, why you picked it, and how you and your organization will benefit from it. Be sure to bring your personalized schedule to show that you’ve done your homework. Here’s one great template for a letter to your boss.

While making the pitch, it’ll be useful to know the approximate total cost of the event (registration fees, lodging, per diem, etc). Many conference registration fees are $400 or more per day; so MCN’s events are a real bargain for excellent professional development.

Your boss may be more interested to know that you’ve researched ways to reduce your cost such as through scholarships (MCN offers significant partial scholarships for all of our events), carpooling or volunteering at the event.

It’ll also be useful to have a post-event strategy for how you’ll use and share the learning. Maybe you’ll share new ideas at a one-on-one meeting with your boss, at an all staff meeting, or via a blog. Plus, how will you keep yourself accountable to use what you learn? Making a plan can help to make it real.


Step 3

Come to the event ready to engage.

Now that you’ve got permission to engage in professional development, make sure you make space for yourself to learn. Whether it’s getting a good night’s rest, planning extra time for travel, or engaging in positive self-talk – plan to get the most out of this learning experience. After all, you deserve it!