Juanita Wheeler – founder of Full and Frank

website twitter facebook LinkedIn TED Talk


Juanita is the Managing Director and founder of Full & Frank, a nonprofit consulting firm. She has extensive experience as an organisational strategist and adopts a holistic approach that demands all aspects of an organisation’s operations be mission-driven.

Juanita has worked for Australian and multinational corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organisations.  She has previously held roles as the CEO of a student organisation, the Director of Global Marketing and Market Development of an international biotechnology company and the Deputy General Manager – Commercial Operations for an Australian innovation firm. This means that she has considerable experience in strategic planning, organisational development, operational design, international business negotiations, revenue diversification, brand development, marketing and communications, mergers and acquisitions, organisational redesigns and change management.

Juanita holds an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA), a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and is scheduled to complete her Master of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies) in June 2015.

Juanita is passionately committed to fundamentally changing the way Australians think about charity, charitable giving and the role of nonprofit organisations in our country.  Juanita spoke at TEDxSouthbank 2014 debunking the overhead myth, and challenging Australians to ask themselves “Am I a part of the nonprofit problem?”

You need to find or create a role that mirrors your purpose. It needs to be something you are passionate about, something you are very good at, something the world needs and something that the market is prepared to pay you adequate compensation to do.

Can you tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen? 

Full & Frank is a boutique profit-with-purpose firm dedicated to advancing the performance and success of nonprofits, social enterprises and other profit-with-purpose organisations. Basically, I wanted to use my knowledge, skills and experience to help the people and organisations doing good – to achieve more using the best tools available, including many from the for-profit sector.

Where for-profits are marketing their products, nonprofits are marketing their mission. But both need to run efficient, strategically driven organisations to achieve their objectives. We help them with that.

More broadly we work to enhance the capacity of nonprofit professionals to encourage a radical rethink in the way Australians think about charity, charitable giving and Australian nonprofit organisations, as I detailed in my talk from TEDxSouthbank.

Could you explain your business model?

We provide strategic consulting services on a range of topics, we complete project work such as website development, strategic plans and marketing collateral, we deliver a range of professional development events and I’m available for guest speaking.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?

It’s an incredibly exciting time for us. The interest in our professional development events for nonprofit professionals is growing. We recently had our first international attendee who travelled from New Zealand to attend.

We’ve also had a lot of interest from people around Australia and the world who can’t fly into Brisbane to attend asking us about webinars. So over the next few months we will be building a number of webinar series for people who can’t make it to the events in person, for whatever reason.

It’s particularly exciting for us because we are passionately committed to developing and enhancing the capacity of nonprofit professionals. Creating and delivering highly practical, dedicated professional development events on the most relevant and challenging nonprofit topics of the day is a key part of our business, so the opportunity to deliver it to a broader audience is very exciting.

You can find out more here.

How do you make ideas happen?

We just decide to do it.

What does your typical day look like?

My day starts out checking all the emails, social media platforms and trending topics in the nonprofit sector from bed, typically sometime between 4 and 5am. Once the sun is up and I’ve had a few cups of tea I watch a TED Talk as I eat breakfast each morning.

Then I’ll jump on Skype with my Creative Director, Heath Jackson Thomas, who lives and works from Austin Texas in the US. We are very similar people, personally and professionally, and he’s a night owl where I prefer mornings so it works extremely well. We’ll work through the client tasks of the day, as well as business development tasks for Full & Frank. Later I’ll visit a current or prospective client, plan for upcoming development events and/or monitor the internet for emerging issues that may have arisen during the day that could impact my clients or the sector. At some point there is sleep.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

When I decided to launch Full & Frank a number of knowledgeable people told me I should be prepared to tough it out through a hard 18 months before I’d really know if it would be a success. I wouldn’t have any physical widgets to sell, and I would need to build up a client base in a sector that is noted for having a poverty mentality. I thought that was a ridiculously long overestimation, but it turned out to be virtually spot on.

During those human moments of doubt, having gone over a year without paying myself (a steep fall from the multinational Director salary I’d left behind), my husband assured me I would make it a success, and my Creative Director told me that a day would come around the 18 month mark where future clients would start seeking me out, and they’d have to wait for me to have time to start their projects. It came right on schedule. It was the 26th September 2014, 10 days shy of Full & Frank turning 18 months old. On that day everything fell into place, and we’ve been growing ever since.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

You need to find or create a role that mirrors your purpose. It needs to be something you are passionate about, something you are very good at, something the world needs and something that the market is prepared to pay you adequate compensation to do.

If you haven’t found it or created it yet, don’t be idle. While you are scanning the market environment (and your soul) for that role, start saving money and making contingency plans so when it presents itself (and if you are constantly looking for opportunities it will) you can leap at the opportunity without worrying about paying the mortgage.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?


Giving Tuesday 

What about internationally?

1SecondEveryday (low cost app for video storytelling)

VirginUnite (thinking differently about charity)

Michael Porter (Ted Talk – challenging business to do good)

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change? 

Business has an enormous role to play in affecting social change. For a long time people have seen ‘doing good’ as the sole responsibility and privilege of nonprofits, limiting the role of for profit ventures to ‘giving back’ after the fact through donations. I think social enterprises are an early attempt to break down the socially fabricated lines between for-profit and nonprofit. I am confident that more and more profit-with-purpose businesses will emerge, because doing good is good for business as well as people.

Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you’d like our readers to know more about and support?

Hummingbird House – www.hummingbirdhouse.org.au

Queensland Kids is a wonderful charity working to build Queensland’s only children’s hospice, Hummingbird House by the end of 2015.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.




Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter. 




Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

Anyone interested in helping us bust the charity overhead myth can play a role by spreading the TED Talk and discussing it with friends, family and colleagues.

People can also get involved with our efforts to help enhance the skills of nonprofit and social enterprise professionals by purchasing a ticket for one of our professional development events and gifting it to their charity or nonprofit of choice. Please discuss the best way to do this with your charity, I’m sure they will appreciate the support.

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

There’s a little local restaurant in the seaside town of Kingscliff in NSW called Kathmandu Kitchen. The food and service is fantastic.


Learn from over 100 Australians making ideas happen.

More from The Social Deck

Young & Extraordinary Series – Melissa Abu-Gazaleh – founder of Top Blokes Foundation

Melissa Abu-Gazaleh is passionate about men, yes men. At age 19, she...
Read More