Virtual teams in non-profit organizations

In an article entitled “When Collaboration And Leadership Are More Important In Non-Profits Versus For-Profits” Steve Shu suggests three of the main failure areas in the ability of non-profits to successfully collaborate:

  1. Over-ambitious goals and lack of quick-win outcomes
  2. Non-optimum organisational structures
  3. Lack of access to good collaboration mechanisms (the article includes some good free virtual technology suggestions)

These three points are very pertinent and real issues for non-profits attempting to move into collaborative working supported by virtual technologies.

From my own experience I have found the following also useful:


1. Consider new ‘affirmative methods’ of virtual community development

Techniques such as 'Appreciative Inquiry (AI)', where you focus on amplifying the good in the organisation rather than fixing the bad, are more in keeping with the ethos of these organisations and can be very valuable aids to incubating a participative community.



2. Experiment with new leadership and management styles

Non-profits are ideal candidates for exploring new organisational structures such as self-managed teams. Virtual technologies are creating new possibilities for extending and modernising this concept.

For example, the evolving area of bioteaming which I am particularly excited about.


3. Explore opportunities to involve sponsors and donors

For example, in Northern Ireland, the local e-government unit have made available free one-year fully hosted licenses to over thirty non-profit organisations for an industrial strength virtual community platform as part of an OnlineNI Smart Communities Programme.

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