How a charity used no-code to scale their business operations
No-code tools are shaping industries and organizations that can benefit from the scalability and economic benefits. It is now easier, faster, and more cost-effective to build platforms.
This has a lot of potential to help social sector companies and charities continue to make an impact. When we found out about Carefree and Joey’s work in building a completely no-code platform for them, we had to find out more!
This is how he built it.
Hi, I’m Joey Ceunen! I’m the CTO of the charity Carefree, and a no-code enthusiast. I come from a fairly mixed professional background that covers hospitality, tech, and startups.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I founded and exited two start-ups, led operational teams across London for Morgans Hotel Group, and spent years volunteering for charities across Europe.
This is how I decided I wanted to work with a charity, and I chose Carefree. It’s a UK-based, tech-first charity startup.
We solve a unique problem: there are around 9 million people in the UK who provide unpaid care, saving the economy £132 billion each year. But full-time carers very often have little opportunity to recover, relax, and look after themselves.
I’ve had carers in my family, and I know how important it can be to take a break. Carefree provides free breaks to full-time unpaid carers using unsold hotel rooms.
So basically, these underused commercial assets in the form of hotel rooms are translated into social sector benefits so that carers can take a much-needed break. We work with community partners like local authorities, carer support networks and voluntary organizations. They refer full-time, unpaid carers to us.
It might sound relatively simple, but the process behind the work Carefree does is actually quite complex. There are lots of safeguarding issues, and lots of stakeholders including our network of carers, our network of donors, and our hospitality partners.
How does no-code fit into all this?
When I joined the Carefree team as a product manager, the charity was struggling to build and maintain a digital platform from scratch. Custom code was just not a realistic nor sustainable way to build what we needed (mainly because of our limited resources, and our ongoing dependency on grants and donations).
It was expensive and time-consuming. The tech was always breaking, and fixing it was constantly a bottleneck.
Because of my experience with building two for-profit businesses in the past using no-code tools, I was asked to do the same for Carefree.
That’s exactly what I’ve been up to over the last year and a half. Our CEO decided that no-code was the way to go, and it was my responsibility to execute it.
We moved away from an architecture that was at least 90% custom code to one that was 90% no-code and only 10% custom. We did this using tools like Webflow, Typeform, Pipedrive, Knack, Airtable, Notion, Intercom, Integromat, and Zapier, just to name a few.
We have an agile “build-try-test-repeat” approach and are constantly refining and improving our products through efficient user feedback loops.
We made the platform as user-friendly as possible. Carers are usually constrained on time and we didn’t want to burden them with complicated processes. The same goes for our accommodation partners, who need a flexible, responsive system so room availability is always up-to-date and easy to manage.
Thirty tools eliminating (mostly) the need for code
We use about 30 different no-code tools at Carefree to manage different member spaces for stakeholders, and verification pathways for carers to access a platform to book a break.
All these tools are integrated using Zapier and Integromat.
Here’s a brief overview:
We use Front for inbound and outbound communications and to manage referral pipelines
All this is held together using loads, and loads, of zaps
The economy of no-code supporting charities
There's so much potential with no-code tools, especially within the charity/social sector. And since all charities are so underfunded, the impact no-code can have is immense!
That's what's already happening with Carefree, and it’s amazing. The more I can share this potential with other charities and empower them to do the same, the better!
The cool thing is we are planning on sending 6,000 carers on a break by the end of this year. All these tools are so scalable! And none of this would ever have worked out so efficiently if we’d have had to build it all from scratch.
Huge thanks to Joey for sharing his story with us. You can follow his journey here.