A Not-For-Profit Thriving on Remote Work


By Nina Sochon

In days gone past, not-for-profits saw flexible work as a cost to the organisation – a nice-to-have.

In today’s tight economy, clever not-for-profits are reinventing the way they work by using technology to enable flexibility. This in turn helps organisations get the right people for the job and deliver fantastic service outcomes.

I am in the fortunate position of having worked alongside some of Australia’s most successful flexible working companies. I’ve noticed that many smaller organisations are also successfully utilising technologies to deliver the working arrangement that many skilled people are looking for, while achieving great results for the organisation and its clients.

Are you curious about how remote work could contribute to delivering a fantastic service?

I spoke to Jon Dee who runs a thriving not-for-profit that uses a remote, distributed work style.

Jon is the co-Founder and Managing Director of DoSomething! – a national charity that builds alliances between businesses, government and the community to solve environmental and community problems. Jon also co-owns a company that’s developing personal organiser software on the iPad for small business owners.

Six months ago, Jon moved the charity to a distributed work model. After finding that his large Sydney office was often empty, he moved to a smaller office in Katoomba near to where he lives and now mainly uses freelancers.

I asked Jon whether remote work helps his organisations to thrive.

Do Something! recently scored a big media partnership deal with NewsCorp, which Jon puts down to the flexible way they do business:

“Telling people how differently and cheaply we’re operating has been good for business – people want to know, what are the alternatives? We no longer have to be tied to major cities to get our work done. We can get a better balance between work and family time.”

But getting a better work-life balance has not been the only advantage for the way Jon does business.

“The fact that my charity doesn’t have a Sydney office does not impede us in any way – reducing our office overheads now allows us to get the best people for the job, regardless of where they are located. We have great systems and use Skype a lot – as a result the work becomes more outcomes-based,” said Jon.

“The office overheads for our charity are now a third of what they once were,” said Jon. “With my iPad software company, my business partner is based in Russia and we’ve not had a conventional office for that set up, so the overhead costs there are minimal too.”

Would Jon make the change again to a remote working arrangement with his staff?

“Definitely. Everything has turned out far better than I expected. ”

Jon Dee knows that flexible work is anything but a cost to his organisation. His success is due in no small part to recognising the huge demand for flexible work and seeing it as an unparalleled opportunity – a strategic tool for delivering great results while giving staff the working environment they are looking for.

Nina Sochon is a Cause & Effective Associate. She established and led the team that delivered the Federal Government’s national work from home (‘telework’) initiatives between 2011 and 2013. Nina now assists organisations to cut through the confusion around flexible and remote work so they set up a clear strategic direction and establish the right management style and systems. The result is successful, cost-saving flexible and remote work programs that give back to the business. You can receive Nina’s checklist here: 7 Ways to Prepare your Organisation for Productive, Cost-Effective New Work Patterns


About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

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