Building communities: Digital Workplaces at Not for Profits

Jul 4, 2017

There are around 600,000 not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) in Australia, employing over a million people and involving 4.6 million volunteers[1].

Like the corporate world, not for profit organisations have challenges around resourcing, governance and IT systems, but the NFP sector is also more likely to experiences employee management issues such as high staff turnover and problems with internal communications, with many part-time employees and volunteers spread over a broad geographic area.

The positive community impacts of not for profits working more efficiently are significant. Increased effectiveness in NFP organisations will not deliver dividends to shareholders but instead provide greater support for families of sick children, more services for the elderly, better ways to help those with disabilities; and even a cure for cancer. As demand for services provided by NFPs in Australia grows, such as aged-care services and health, so too does the pressure to adapt and make operations more efficient, productive and responsive.

NFP internal communications can be challenging, the issues of managing a dispersed, revolving workforce compounded by the large amount of often sensitive information needed for a range of stakeholders, from case managers and front-line staff to board members and donors.

A recent study by Maxxia indicated 43% of employees belonging to larger not for profits felt disconnected from decision making and 35% had a lack of confidence in senior management.[2]

Many not for profit organisations are choosing to develop a Digital Workplace, a core platform where staff can perform work, collaborate with colleagues, access essential information and find out what’s going on within the organisation. A Digital Workplace can help staff save time on administrative tasks, find the information they need, communicate efficiently across time zones, form positive relationships and build a culture where people can develop and exchange ideas. For NFP organisations, a Digital Workplace can be a great way to share people’s passion and belief in the organisation’s purpose.

With 180 staff, 200 board members and 2000 volunteers, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) had some challenges. The independent house chapters did not have a common email domain, shared network drives or a way to enable collaboration and improve services to families.

“The Charity has some ambitious goals for its 2020 Strategy and a simple common communication platform was a key priority to help enable the planned program growth and staff engagement with the outcome of helping more children and families”

James Antrim, National Manager – Information Systems; Ronald McDonald House Charities

RMHC moved to Office365 with a phased approach aimed at leveraging as much Office 365 functionality as possible. SharePoint provided an enhanced central source of information and a collaboration space for all staff. The RMHC intranet has become the key point of contact, charity communications and for sharing information and ideas, building engagement via staff news and photos.

“Webvine listened to our goals and business requirements, we wanted to connect and empower user groups and end-users to communicate easily, reduce duplication and leverage the Office 365 environment. Webvine provided us with an enhanced intranet in a very short time period from concept to go-live with an agile approach. We have seen increased usage, better communication, faster onboarding and user engagement from new starters and groups of users separated by distance. We are able to communicate with people across multiple mediums including documents, discussions and video amongst others. The platform has changed the communication process for the better, it is also evolving with us on our journey”

James Antrim, National Manager – Information Systems; Ronald McDonald House Charities

Another not for profit, Cancer Therapeutics CRC, has about 70 researchers spread across Australia at a number of different research institutes, universities, and biotech companies. With scientists working in different organisations across various locations, collaboration could be difficult and time-consuming, taking focus away from their research.

Cancer Therapeutics CRC implemented a branded Injio digital workplace solution, bringing individuals from disparate organisations together with clear and intuitive user functions. The intranet not only delivers the ability to find colleagues, share documents and communicate more easily but by providing a project discussion feature to facilitate dialogue amongst the scientists, the intranet helps develop new, potentially life-saving ideas.

“We’ve been very pleased. I think we’ve definitely got the solution that we were after. And, in some cases, I think it’s even better than what we had hoped.”

Rhiannon Jones – Manager, Operations, CRC

There are many more examples of NFPs benefiting from the unifying benefits of a Digital Workplace. With the common challenges experienced by these organisations around document management, internal communications and creating a strong community among staff, volunteers and the leadership team, a Digital Workplace should be on the shortlist for organisational priorities. Sharing wins, communicating the vision and simply making it easier to find and connect with one another have the potential to not only improve the working lives of team members, but deliver immense benefits to the community.

[1] The Not for Profit Sector in Australia: Fact Sheet, QUT Business School, August 2014

[2] Not-for-profit growing pains: How to manage organisational change; Maxxia Workplace insights

This entry was posted in Digital Transformation, Office 365 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Share this: