Would you work for less cash if you knew you were making a difference?

One enterprise believes employees are driven by purpose more than just the money.

“We don't pay like your private tech company – we need to sell purpose,” says CIO of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Pietro Galli.

“So, if you're joining us, you're joining us because primarily because of purpose, we don't give bonuses, we don't give equity – we don't have that.”

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) helps those who have been forced to flee in 32 countries around the world.

It works with around 14,000 humanitarians to provide shelter, education, food security, water, sanitation and camp management to those in need.

Galli looks for ways to better enable services by utilising technology.

An academic background in mechanical engineering and post war recovery studies helps, but it was his time at the ground-level, living and working in the likes of Uganda, Sudan and the Congo that allows him to do what he does.

“I know the business, I know the core stuff that we do,” he tells Information Age at the Oktane19 conference in San Francisco, California. “I was brought into technology to bring technology and business together.”

Galli speaks onstage at Oktane19. Source: Twitter

But to make a difference, Galli needs to ensure he has the right team around him.

And therein lies the challenge of recruiting for good.

“Our job ads look very different from the traditional ads of the rest of the organisation, which are usually two or three pages with every single thing you’re going to do.”

The most successful job posting simply read, “Do you think there’s something better in life than getting people to click on your ads?” Galli recalls.

“That resonated so much with people that were looking for purpose.”

A trial system is also in place for developers to come in and see if NRC is the right fit.

“You work with us for four days, we work with you for four days. At the end of that we talk about it, and we choose each other.

“There’s no bad feelings.

“We want to see people in action. We want to see how they react to the way we work. We’re trying to build a culture.”

Thinking long-term

Galli has been involved in several progressive tech projects with the NRC, including a chatbot and initiatives to better monitor resources.

But working in a sector where resources are rarely ever anything but limited, how does Galli convince those around him to invest in technology projects that may not provide the same immediate impact as other humanitarian efforts?

“We need to be able to demonstrate that every penny that we get is either spent on beneficiaries or spent well on the set of core activities that we do,” he says.

“It is very difficult to say, ‘okay, we could do this much better in five years, but to get there we need to have this quite sizable technology investment up front, but we won’t see the return on investment three or four years down the line’.

“It’s difficult, and so we’re looking at creative ways to finance these investments, for example getting loans for technology investments and then paying them back.”