Online Collaboration and Remote Work: Changing the Face of Nonprofits and Startups

Discover how nonprofits and tech startups can harness online collaboration tools, paving the way for efficient remote work strategies and global impact in the ever-evolving tech-for-good landscape.

Welcome to the 3rd part of this ‘Tech for Good’ series! Over the last few years, the world has witnessed a remarkable shift towards working virtually. As with any change, some orgs have weathered remote work and online collaboration better than others. For example, nonprofits like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) harness digital collaboration to recruit a diverse talent pool, improve humanitarian assistance worldwide, and more. Their use of technology, data analytics, and other solutions showcases how remote work can enhance services and adapt to evolving needs.

Meanwhile, startups like GitHub have fully embraced remote work since 2014, leveraging their platform to facilitate global collaboration among developers. The flexibility of online collaboration and remote work allows them to access a broader talent pool, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.

Today, we’ll explore how digital collaboration and remote work can reshape nonprofits and startups and perhaps add value to your startup, nonprofit, or passion project.

Let’s get to it!



Online Collaboration and Remote Work

For those eager to embrace these changes, some readily available tools and technologies can help support your journey. I’ll jump into those in a bit. In the meantime, remember that the examples below are suggestions based on my knowledge from various projects and in citizen development (read about my journey here). I have not contacted the companies to confirm whether or not they use these tools as displayed in the examples below or in context otherwise.

Nonprofit Perspective

Example 1: International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) uses online collaboration and remote work to help them bridge distance and more.
GIF via International Rescue Committee on GIPHY

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a global organization that responds to humanitarian crises and helps people affected by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and rebuild their lives. One way they do that is through digital collaboration and remote work. In general, embracing a worldwide workforce using digital tools allows companies to recruit from a more diverse global talent pool. The same could apply to existing field teams as these tools and technologies help improve lines of communication.

In my opinion, it seems that IRC’s embrace of online collaboration and remote work has strengthened its ability to respond rapidly and effectively to humanitarian crises. If so, they’ve probably also found ways of optimizing its operations to help ensure its services reach those most in need. Through technology, companies like IRC can deliver education, healthcare, and livelihood support to vulnerable populations worldwide, even in challenging circumstances.

Startup Perspective

Example 2: GitHub

GitHub is an online collaboration powerhouse and has many integration options
GIF via GitHub on GIPHY

GitHub is a tech startup that provides a software development and collaboration platform. The platform enables remote collaboration, allowing developers worldwide to work on software projects. GitHub has also embraced remote work entirely since 2014, allowing it to access a more extensive talent pool and remain at the forefront of the software development industry.

GitHub uses its platform for internal work, such as code collaboration, issue tracking, and documentation. Its commitment to remote work has allowed the organization to access a broader range of talent and contribute to a culture of transparency and inclusivity. Overall, these examples highlight how digital collaboration and remote work could benefit nonprofits and tech startups to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and expand their talent pool.

Leveraging Tools and Technologies for Online Collaboration and Remote Work

In the rapidly evolving landscape of online collaboration and remote work, organizations like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and GitHub can harness various tools and technologies to improve internal and external communication. When that can be done effectively, better communication leads to more streamlined operations and more empowered in-person and digital teams. Yay!

Now, let’s brainstorm tools each org could harness to improve digital collaboration and remote work.

Potential Technologies in an IRC Scenario:

Zoom + Online Collaboration go hand-in-hand
GIF via Zoom on GIPHY
  • Zoom: An organization like the IRC could use Zoom for virtual meetings and webinars to connect with experts and field teams worldwide, making coordinating humanitarian responses and providing remote support easier.
  •  Slack: Slack helps teams communicate in real-time, share updates, and collaborate efficiently, fostering a sense of connection even when working remotely.
  •  Trello: If an organization like the IRC employed a tool like Trello to manage projects, track tasks, and organize resources for different humanitarian efforts, it could help to ensure that teams (in-person and virtual) stay coordinated and focused.
  •  Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams can be utilized for team chats, video conferencing, and file sharing, streamlining remote collaboration and enabling a secure environment for data sharing.
  •  Google Workspace (formerly G Suite): Google Workspace can enable collaborative document creation and real-time editing, allowing similar orgs/teams to work together on essential documents from different locations.

Potential Digital Collaboration Options in a GitHub Scenario:

Slack is an online collaboration platform that integrates with tools like GitHub
GIF via Slack on GIPHY
  • Slack: Here’s a fun fact: tech companies using Slack, on average, have a 29% ROI. Another kicker: Slack integrates with GitHub! These integrations can help notify developers about code changes and allow them to discuss code-related tasks directly in their messaging platform, enhancing remote teamwork, security, and more.
  •  JIRA: JIRA helps software development teams efficiently manage projects, report and track issues, and streamline workflows. Overall, it helps to ensure productive collaboration even remotely.
  •  Bitbucket: Bitbucket, integrated with JIRA, is a valuable tool for code collaboration, version control, and code management, all essential for a remote development environment.
  •  Confluence: Confluence can create and share documentation related to coding projects, providing a knowledge-sharing platform for remote development teams.
  •  Asana: Asana is a project management tool that helps startups organize and track their work remotely. In short, they make managing multiple projects easier and help ensure all team members are on the same page.

Solving Problems through Digital Collaboration and Remote Work

Asana is project management tool.
GIF via Asana on GIPHY

The above tools can be effectively applied in these scenarios to enhance digital collaboration and remote work (P.S. hybrid isn’t remote work), enabling smoother and more efficient project management (via a PMO?), communication, and collaboration. Of course, which tools you use depends on the specific needs and preferences of your nonprofit, startup, or personal project.

Organizations can enhance digital collaboration and remote work by adopting these and similar tools and technologies, regardless of their specific sector. The flexibility and accessibility of these tools empower teams to work seamlessly, leading to greater efficiency and innovation.

So whether you are working with nonprofits or in a tech startup, you must carefully consider which tools are readily available and can help to make your digital collaboration and remote work more effective. You also need to envision how digital collaboration can redefine your work environment. For example, how can these tools bridge gaps and empower your teams, leading to greater innovation and efficiency?

Still unsure? Click below to see how each company uses this type of tech for good.

The Takeaway

Overall, digital collaboration and remote work have become increasingly popular. From the International Rescue Committee’s humanitarian efforts worldwide to GitHub’s revolutionary software development, these examples demonstrate how technology can connect teams, streamline operations, and expand the reach of their missions. These organizations have transformed their work by utilizing various tools and technologies, focusing on flexibility, effective change management, and inclusivity.

As you consider the impact of these examples, remember that the tools and technologies are readily available. Whether you’re part of a nonprofit, a tech startup, or pursuing a personal project, these resources empower you to reimagine your work environment. They bridge gaps, foster innovation, improve talent pools, and enhance efficiency, paving the way for greater collaboration and impact.

So, as you look ahead to your tech for good endeavors, think about how these tools can empower your teams and redefine how you work. The possibilities are endless, and the future is filled with potential for those who embrace the digital age of collaboration and remote work.

Next Up: Part 4 – The Gig Economy: Balancing Flexibility and Social Responsibility


P.S. Future posts in this ‘Tech for Good’ series will be published on Wednesdays at 8:30 A.M. EST. As they go live, the topics below will become direct links (including the one above).

Also, below are the first two posts in this series if you want to read in order (not required):

Some reports on this site were excerpted from publicly available information (research firms, third parties, public health organizations, etc.). This website and blog are for informational purposes only. Reports, reviews, and experiences on this website are opinions expressed by the author and do not purport the opinions or views of others. Any tools or technology mentioned are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement or affiliation. Please use your discretion and consider factors like compatibility, security, and functionality before adopting any tool or technology. Lastly, this post/page does not establish a Jarred Andrews-client relationship. For additional info, please refer to my disclaimer. Please review the copyright, privacy policy, and terms pages for information on how to properly download, share, or copy content from my site. If you cannot find what you need, please reach out.
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