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Fast-growing opportunities in the not-for-profit sector for partners

Fast-growing opportunities in the not-for-profit sector for partners

Credit: Crayon

The not-for-profit sector is one of Australia and New Zealand’s best-kept secrets in terms of partner opportunities.

Although traditionally sidelined in favour of bigger budget commercial or government deals, the sector is ripe for digital and cloud transformation and boasts larger resources and budgets than many may have anticipated.

These are the key messages being put forward by Microsoft and Crayon as part of the duo’s Tech for Good Showcase which was recently held in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland.

Designed to help partners uncover the latest needs and trends in the non-profit sector, as well as help non-profits thrive with cloud, the showcase marks one of the only non-profit sector-specific strategies by an Australia-based distributor. Tech for Good expands upon the previous rhipe for Change initiative which launched in 2019 – the first operating program from a cloud software distributor serving the non-profit sector in APAC.

Speaking during Tech for Good in Sydney, Crayon Asia-Pacific VP of sales for Tech for Good Tovia Va'aelua said the distributor wanted to think about everything: people, planet and prosperity.

“Traditionally our job has been as an aggregator and our role has been to bring the channel together,” he said. “We have several partners working in the not-for-profit space, so we want to make sure they are looked after and connected. We want to be a thought leader, but also help with execution.”

According to Va'aelua, the not-for-profit sector has been somewhat overlooked in the past due to perceptions that the market was low-margin and lacking big spending.

This was something reiterated by Steve Dawson CEO for ONGC Systems. However, that perception is fast becoming outdated.

“A lot of non-profits are government-funded and have a lot of resources,” he said.  “A lot of them are NDIS-funded. The organisations you engage with will certainly be looking to invest a lot more in their technical partnerships and solutions.”

In addition, because perhaps of a past hesitancy towards technology investment, many not-for-profit organisations are in a prime position to transform, especially in order to meet rapidly changing demands around data management, security, compliance and operational efficiency.

“There is a really significant knowledge gap in the non-profit space around technology,” explained Dawson. “A lot of people still view technology as a cost. But the larger not-for-profits are extremely mature in the way that they operate and are great to work with. They are also the best referrers you will ever have in your business.”

For Va'aelua, a key part of the partner value comes from the chance to innovate and execute in a way not always possible in the commercial or government space.

“When you have been in this industry for a long time, it becomes clear that innovation by necessity is very powerful. Ideation is about creating new solutions in new markets; necessity is about creating a better quality of life,” he said.

“It’s about doing the great work in your commercial field and bringing that over to the NFP sector – and then sometimes doing that in reverse.”

The chance to do more fulfilling work and projects is something incredibly valuable to channel players in Australia and New Zealand given the markets’ ongoing battle to hire and retain top talent.

 As Dawson points out, a lack of staff retention is something “everyone in the tech industry suffers from”.

“A lot of people coming into the tech industry are looking to drive change in their community,” he said. “This has become a big value proposition for us because we can help talent enact the impact they want to have. Being able to deliver a mission is important and helps you attract staff.”

The uniqueness of the work has also translated into its own brand value for ONGC, providing a boost to its marketing efforts. “It’s now paying dividends and we’re getting some extremely well-known brands come to us as a result,” Dawson added.

When partners are coming into the not-for-profit space, Va'aelua noted that they may have to prepare themselves for some difficult conversations. “There are some areas that people do not want to talk about: human trafficking; child prostitution,” he said. “As someone who spent several years living in Manila, these were very real topics.”

Nevertheless, he stressed, for Asia-Pacific partners looking to play in the not-for-profit space, their skills will be highly valued as partners of Microsoft and Crayon.

“We like to find partners that want to be a part of [a certain] project and then do the knowledge transfer,” Va'aelua added.

Meanwhile, for Dawson, the not-for-profit sector may not be the easiest sector to find footing with at first. However, with Microsoft and Crayon as partners, ONGC is now fully immersed in the not-for-profit sector.

“It’s quite hard to work out what the opportunities are,” he explained. “It took us a couple of years of learning the dos and don'ts before we were fully committed to the sector.

“The support we have been getting from Microsoft and Crayon has been excellent. I don’t think we would be where we are if it wasn’t for them.  The mission they are driving has helped us grow significantly.”

If you want to uncover opportunities in the not-for-profit sector, our Tech for Good experts can help. Book a meeting today. 

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