On the “Executive with a Cause” podcast, we spoke to 30 different for-purpose executives about their operations and experiences last year. One organisation stood out for me.
About Roundabout Canberra:
Roundabout Canberra receives, assesses, and cleans pre-loved baby and children’s items from the greater Australian Capital Territory (ACT) community. Then, they work with other local charities that identify and distribute the donated goods to families in need.
Hannah Andrevski’s young children had outgrown their baby clothes and equipment. However, when she tried to donate these items, she discovered that local charities didn’t have the capacity to accept and process them. Furthermore, the community lacked such a service to help families in need with these expensive items.
Fortunately, Hannah found such charities in other cities. And despite not having experience in the Not for Profit sector, she started Roundabout Canberra with their help in 2018.
The sister organisations assisted Roundabout Canberra with procedures, policies and lessons learned. This allowed the organisation to not only stand up quickly but to expand rapidly too.
However, this quick growth led to other challenges.
One of the hardest things about running a young, small charity is the lack of budget to hire employees. Instead, organisations such as Roundabout Canberra are highly dependent on the generous time and skills of volunteers, many are not available for regular shifts. This requires easy, standardised processes that can be quickly learned and implemented by a revolving crew of volunteers.
Furthermore, the organisation had significant donated inventory that needed to be assessed, documented, maintained and tracked. If not managed well, this inventory management process could quickly become a bottleneck, a physical storage issue, as well as a safety risk for the children they are supporting.
With a successful ACT Government grant application, Hannah and her small team were able to implement a Salesforce CRM solution with implementation partner, Blaze Your Trail.
The Salesforce solution was designed to document their relationships with other charities they worked with and the families they support. It also included an inventory management module that allowed them to manage “orders” and their vast items.
Webforms are used for equipment requests. Furthermore, they integrated a 3rd party app that allowed volunteers to use their mobile phones to quickly input the receiving inventory and all related notes into Salesforce.
Nevertheless, technology alone would not enable this success. The organisation’s staff and volunteers have invested significant time in learning how to maintain and administrate their Salesforce system to continue to evolve and become more efficient.
The effective use of technology means that the organisation is supporting over 3000 children each year while managing approximately 250 volunteers with only 4 FTE.
Furthermore, the reporting capabilities have allowed them to easily track their activities and impact. This has been valuable in many ways but especially for applying and reporting on grants.
Roundabout Canberra experienced rapid initial growth, quickly establishing itself as a respected organisation on the ACT charity scene. They can be heralded as demonstrating best practice for other small organisations, especially for their effective use of technology.
For this reason, we recognise Roundabout Canberra is a best-practice organisation that other charities would benefit from emulating.
More information about their implementation partner, Jessica MacPherson of Blaze Your Trail, can also be found here.
Tammy Ven Dange is a former charity CEO, Not for Profit Board Member and IT Executive. Today she helps NFPs with strategic IT decisions and hosts the “Executive with a Cause” podcast.