What small businesses can learn from the NFP sector


When I founded Share the Dignity three years ago, off the back of an article about homelessness in Australia, it was something I could do with my family and my local community and I could talk to most people face to face if I needed to.

Fast forward to 2019 and we now have 4,100 volunteers across the country, as well as media requests, corporate partners, stakeholders, digital vending machines and so much more going on.

Even though Share the Dignity is a charity, we run it like a business and in some ways it’s a lot like many small businesses in Australia.

So what do small businesses and NFPs have in common?

Whether you’re a small business or a not-for-profit, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s your people that are most critical to achieving success. A recent AICD report found that 81.6% of Australian board directors agree that their employees are the most critical issue relating to trust in their brand.

With the pressures business and NFP leaders face in today’s environment, it is so easy to lose sight of this – making it all the more critical that businesses and not-for-profits have the right tools to communicate effectively with their employees and volunteers.

This is where workplace collaboration tools come in. In 2017, I signed Share the Dignity up to the Workplace by Facebook tool to manage the kind of communication and collaboration that happens on a daily basis, as well as maintain some sanity – and I can honestly say we’ve never looked back.

Using collaboration tools for success

Collaboration is key:

One of my key takeaways from adopting the Workplace platform was realising how important it is to give your workforce the tools they need to not only work together but build relationships with their co-workers.

Workplace provides an environment where a diverse group of people can come together regardless of where they are geographically located and we can access and share their experiences and ideas in a collaborative and supportive environment.

We’ve also been able to easily create workgroups for specific tasks and as well as a place we can all pop up ideas, photos, links and stories – which is invaluable when we’re trying to organise logistics around our DigniTeas fundraisers and annual istinthebag event.

Cultivate creativity:

The digital workplace should give employees a platform to exchange ideas and bring creativity to the fore.

Using Workplace tools, we’ve been able to unlock information through more creative means such as groups, Work Chat for video and by simply spending more time problem-solving at group level.

It’s great to see when someone has a speck of an idea and it evolves into something we can actually implement in the workplace.

For example, our volunteers used Workplace to crowdsource ideas around now to onboard our new volunteers and we ended up coming up with an entirely new process where we use monthly LIVE video session where new volunteers can interact and ask questions.

To many these ideas may seem obvious. But by shifting to collaborative communication platforms, businesses and NFP’s can encourage employees to express themselves, empower two-way communications, (not top down), and ultimately democratise the workplace.


About the author

Rochelle Courtenay, Share the Dignity Founder