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People. Process. Systems.

Ryan Feely
29th January 2020

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Introduction

The charity sector has faced tough headwinds over the last decade, from cuts to government funding to the move away from everyday cash use. This is only made worse by the tough challenge of standing out in a world with ever shortening attention spans of potential donators.

So, how is it possible that some charities are thriving during these tougher times?

They have implemented an effective digital strategy that boosts efficiency, improves ways of working, and encourages support for their cause.

Unfortunately, having a digital strategy in place is not the norm. As the Charity Digital Skills Report 2019 highlights, 52% of charities don’t have a digital strategy in place, while only 10% have been through a full digital transformation process and embedded it. While these numbers are poor, it is not because charities don’t want to change. Over the next 12 months, 67% of charities want to use digital to increase their impact with 48% wanting digital to help improve service delivery. Even 42% want to use digital to increase income.

All of these are very real and achievable goals, so why is there such a large difference between the wants and what is happening in the charity sector?

We believe that such a gap exists due to a mixture of misunderstanding, being unsure where to start, and lack of resources.

The Future of Digital Transformation in the Charity Sector

The future of the charity sector will be based on the idea of easier and more efficient. Technology will provide easier ways for people to interact with and give to their chosen charities who will have digital ways of working that maximise efficiency. The digital transformation of services will be the driving force of advantage for certain charities while those who don’t adapt will be left behind.

First, let’s look at what easier means for potential donors. Cash use in the UK continues to fall as more people use card and contactless payment. If less people are using cash then it is harder for charities to be able to collect funds on the street, at doors, or through tins in shops. While you can point people towards online donations, too often this slips their mind and you lose out on revenue.

Therefore, having the ability to take card payments will become vital to maximise revenue and ensure that using fund raisers remains viable. If a fund raiser is taking the time to educate someone on the benefits of your charity, then you want that person to be able to easily donate. Small card readers use mobile connections to allow card or contactless payments to be taken at a variety of locations. This system is simple and inexpensive to set up but has massive potential for fund raisers. They no longer have to rely on donors having cash, and larger donations are possible due to how easy they are to process.

 

Discover our work with Edinburgh-based mental health charity Penumbra

 

Second, will be the efficient running of charities. Due to a few bad actors, the charity sector has faced strong criticism in the past for poor practices and wasteful use of funds received. Couple this with decreasing budgets and it is more important than ever to be efficient when it comes to how and where services are delivered.

Digital transformation will achieve this by changing ways of working, providing better communication, and the ability to reach those who need services most. Software can make sure that resources are being allocated to the right places through efficient scheduling which allows practitioners to focus on doing the work that matters most. Hardware can allow these practioners to easily record incidents, take notes, or work with other members of their team to provide a joined-up care program for those in need.

Finally, the future of the charity sector will see those who embrace digital able to use a variety of information. Being able to see and understand where users are engaging with your charity will be vital in having a complete picture in what motivates your donors. You can see the donation trends of people over time and better understand what campaigns are delivering and use this information to inform future funding drives.

This connected view will also cut wasteful spending and lead to better service delivery. Being able to effectively manage resources around the business will ensure that those who need help are able to receive what is best suited to them. Tracking spending and time used at different areas of the business will become easier and strategic decisons can be made on this information.

How to get there

So how will charities be able to start thinking more digital and begin using some of the technology discussed?

The first thing is to look at your current ways of working. Take a holistic view of your People, Processes, and Systems to create a blueprint of how they are all working together. This will help to highlight where problems exist in delivering your service and allows you to look for digital solutions that can help in these areas.

You should also create a roadmap for your charity that can be worked along over time. A true digital transformation project doesn’t have to do everything at once and respects that working in stages helps promote stability. This also allows more complex solutions to be the end goal that the entire organisation works towards.

Some of the common things to think about include:

  • Do practioners use hand-written notes?
  • Are your fundraisers able to take multiple forms of payment?
  • Is it time-consuming to reach your most remote patients?
  • How do teams share information?
  • Is time tracking easy to manage?

All of these have digital solutions that can be implemented to save resources and provide a great ROI.

Conclusion

The charity sector has come a long way since its inception, but the road ahead is likely to be tough. It is important for charities to have a robust digital transformation plan that they are actively working towards to ensure efficient ways of working that make the most of their funding.

If you would like to talk about how we can help you deliver a Digital Transformation then please get in touch

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