People. Process. Systems.

Ryan Feely
10th February 2020

Header image for the article 3 reasons why charities must embrace digital


Charities come in all shapes and sizes and with different objectives in what they aim to achieve. One thing many share though is a lack of digital operations.

While this has been manageable in the past, there is a growing need for charitable organisations to embrace digital. Budgets are tighter than ever before, and increased competition is impacting on the ability for organisations to get funding. Charities that want to have an advantage over the competition must seriously consider how they can use new technology to their advantage.

Here are three reasons why charities must embrace digital in 2020.

Reason 1 – Adaptability

When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018 many companies struggled to adapt to it. This was true across all sectors, not just charity. People were unsure what was now allowed and the guidance available often sent mixed messages.

While things have now improved and almost all organisations have adapted, there is no reason something similar couldn’t happen again. With Brexit on the horizon, it is very likely that laws and legal requirements will change for a variety of sectors.

By embracing digital operations, you are putting your charity in a much better position to respond to any changes. GDPR stung many companies because they relied on information that was spread across systems and not adequately documented. Having digital ways of working embedded in your charity can ensure easy access to important information and gives you the ability to pull that into reports. These reports give you better oversight across operations, which is key to making more informed business decisions.

Reason 2 – Digital Improves Ways of Working

Many charities embrace digital for the same reason; improved ways of working. Charities are often reliant on older ways of working, from spreadsheets to hand-written notes. While these get the job done, they certainly result in a much more time-consuming set of processes.

Being more digital can provide the tools needed by charities to work in creative and new ways. These tools can help with both back-office tasks as well as the delivery of services. For example, providing workers with mobile devices that allows them to upload and share notes can cut down on travel time if they no longer need to return to the office. It can even cut down on admin time as all their notes are saved under the correct file and in an easily accessible location.

For some charities, the ability to deliver services over Skype calls can help reach those in remote locations. Imagine someone who needs weekly check-ins but lives a 2-hour drive away. The ability to call them over Skype saves 4 hours of travel in total for what could be a one-hour meeting. Suddenly you have freed up half a day of work!

While needs vary across organisations, almost all charities could benefit from exploring what digital solutions are open to them.

Reason 3 – Online Funding

Once it was only possible to fundraise by being face to face with potential donors. And while this will likely remain the main way for now, the ability to obtain donations online is a great extra source of revenue.

The possibility of online revenue takes charities from operating in a handful of cities close to their operations to being able to receive funds from anyone in the world. Opening to the potential of 7 billion people who could donate is a wonderful opportunity that your charity shouldn’t miss. By having an online option there is more reason to share your charity’s story and encourage engagement in online circles.

There are even stories of charities being saved thanks to the ability to run online campaigns and reach new audiences. In Edinburgh, Gorgie City Farm raised £100,000 through a GoFundMe page that was set up to help save the charity after it had run into financial difficulties.

Where to Go from Here

No matter a charity’s approach to digital, the truth is technology won’t wait around. It will continue to advance and bring new solutions to old problems. That’s why charities should embrace digital at their very core, to ensure they can continue to make use of these new advances. Appreciate that moving to digital ways of working isn’t the end goal but rather that start of an on-going journey.

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