In today’s tough operating environment, flexible working offers exciting opportunities for charities and non-profits in the UK.
The role played by volunteers in making the London Games such a success is a reminder of how the third sector, which includes voluntary associations as well as social enterprises and community groups, makes Britain a better place. It is likely that many Team GB Paralympians, poised to spring into action this week, have already benefitted from the support provided by such organisations.
However, the third sector faces an increasingly tough operating environment. During the recession, charities saw their average financial surplus drop by 60 per cent, while research carried out by the Charity Commission suggests that, on average, 15-20 per cent of funds raised by charities are spent on operating costs.
This got me thinking about how flexible working tools can help maximise the value of every pound raised.
With so many third sector organisations only able to afford dedicated part-time staff in key roles, why waste time on long commutes or travelling to and from meetings? Being able to work remotely, whether from home or an external site, is a simple way to save on travel costs and business downtime.
Video conferencing can enable organisations to neatly sidestep the costly and inconvenient barrier of geographic location by allowing members to connect with volunteers, supporters or staff wherever they happen to be. Similarly, such tools have now made it possible to present a face-to-face pitch to distant potential funders or working partners in the time it would normally take to get to the office.
As customers, we trust the businesses that are reliable. This is no less true of the third sector. High-achieving organisations have become skilled at building consistency into their business practices, reducing costs resulting from poor communication and inefficiency. By supporting effective project management and providing access to up-to-the-minute business information, flexible working tools are the perfect way to drive such improvements.
One such example is Twestival, a single-day worldwide movement that uses the power of social media and web collaboration tools to organise offline events in support of global and local charities. In just over two years, Twestival has organised four such campaigns across more than 200 cities, raising $1.75 million.
I believe that the third sector organisations that thrive in the future will be those that embrace this new world of work. The race is on.
On the subject of the Paralympics, Channel 4’s video teaser is a goosebump-inducing masterpiece. Watch it if you haven’t already! I, for one, can’t wait until the opening ceremony on Wednesday.
Photo credit: Cornwall Twestival 2011