In another installment of our video series “Candid Conversations,” Anasuya Strasner, GVP of North America Customer Experiences at Oracle, chatted with leaders of two global nonprofit organizations: Michelle Routh, CIO of Care International, and John Hewko, General Secretary and CEO of Rotary International. Both organizations rely heavily on volunteerism, in-person interactions, and generous donations. The events of the last few months forced both groups to shift their operations and engagement models literally overnight and find new ways to accomplish their missions of providing humanitarian services around the world. Despite the upheaval, Care and Rotary have found opportunities in unexpected places that are laying the foundation for modernizing their operations going forward.
As on-the-ground humanitarian teams quickly shifted to home-based operations, Michelle explained that “It was a do or die moment for our technology teams. Our cloud solutions allowed us to scale much more quickly than we would have been able to do with our legacy systems.” While the effort was relatively seamless in the U.S., Michelle and her staff had to shore up technology operations in many countries so that teams could work remotely. Because electricity and internet access could be spotty in remote locations, they tapped into digital channels that were available in each country, like WhatsApp and SMS systems.
Since its founding 75 years ago, Care International has created an extensive operation of on-the-ground support in more than 100 countries, often in some very remote locations. As the organization has worked to provide healthcare, education, sanitation, and financial support to women and girls, Care has created a network of trusted women in communities around the world. In response to COVID-19 restrictions, Care’s leadership team quickly pivoted. “If our teams can’t go into people’s homes to deliver goods and services, these women are highly regarded and people listen to them,” Michelle said. “We’ve mobilized them to disseminate accurate healthcare information about disease transmission and safety precautions, as well as tangible items like PPE and sanitation kits.”
According to John, “Over the last few years, we’ve been trying to introduce technology to our 36,000 local clubs around the world, but it’s been difficult. In March, our clubs had no choice but to move to an online environment.” As weekly in-person meetings moved online, the net result was that people realized technology wasn’t as scary as they thought it would be. Long-term, John believes the modern concept of e-meetings will attract a younger audience to the Rotary organization. He’s also witnessed clubs around the world use technology to network and share creative ideas for fundraising and community activism. He said, “In some ways, our clubs are more connected now than ever before.”
Every year Rotary International hosts an in-person convention that attracts 25, 000¬–50,000 members. John said, “We had to cancel our event in Hawaii and shift it to a virtual conference on a dime. It was a challenge, but people loved it. And, we reached a much wider audience.” The stats were very impressive with 75,000 unique viewers during the event, 183,000 additional viewers after the event, and 1.2 million impressions. According to John, “We’ve set the standard for our convention going forward. We’ll likely use a hybrid model in the future, but we learned how to the do it well in a virtual world.”
Although the dramatic shifts over the last few months have forced changes that neither John or Michelle expected, they both say their organizations, from staff to volunteers to donors, have embraced the challenges and figured out how to pivot. As Anasuya closed out the conversation, she said, “Oracle is grateful to provide technology to support the efforts of both organizations.”
We hope that you enjoy the series. If you have a question or a topic you’d like us to cover, leave a comment. Stay tuned, well, and healthy.