The new Charity Digital Code of Practice is due to launch next month with the aim of helping charities to embrace new technology so that they can improve their tech skills and increase digital take up. Before this can happen, charities need to ensure that they have the foundations in place for successful technological innovation.
Before charities can realise the value of technology, there are cultural and infrastructure issues that need to be addressed. Years of trialling systems in silo and of departments working independently means that there is work that needs to be done to get the foundations in place for a powerful digital strategy. Here are some important areas for consideration:
The right culture
It’s not all just about strategies, plans and processes. The success of technological innovation depends on the culture of the organisation. Charities that understand this will live and breathe their digital strategy. This isn’t something that can be dictated by one internal “digital pioneer”, instead the right internal culture needs to be created to cultivate change at every level. Even though this might not feel like successful technological innovation, through cultural change, organisations are laying the foundations for the future. Charities need to create an open, sharing culture where ideas and progress are welcomed, not stifled by existing systems and processes.
Remove the structural silos that block change and collaboration between departments will begin to happen naturally. By involving the whole organisation, not just the IT department or digital team, every member of staff, from HR to marketing, will understand that a technological strategy can be an enabler for all.
That’s both internally and externally. Scrutiny for charities is the reality, but that doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Externally, supporters want to know how charities work, what the impact is, what the results are and where their hard-earned money is actually going. The answers lie in transparency and this relies on real time data, brought to life through stories. Internally, transparency between departments allows for greater collaboration.
Understand existing technological skills
The Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2017 found that highly digital charities are 10 times more likely to save costs. It also found that charity leaders who embrace technology are 3 times more likely to report increasing turnovers than less digitally savvy charities. Finances, plus a lack of time and knowledge are all given as reasons for the lower performing charities. But, without upgrading these capabilities, from knowledge of social media marketing to the hiring of web developers and content producers, successful technological innovation won’t get off the ground.
The whole organisation needs to ask itself how it wants to interact with technology and what kind of people it needs to make the most of this technology. Many charities find that they have outgrown their internal IT systems which have become rigid and inflexible to the ever-changing demands of their organisation. Others work from countless updated spreadsheets that don’t link to each other.
Once the decision is made to digitally innovate and develop a strategy that revolutionises internal systems and services, charities need to look at effective solutions that can meet their requirements. Many are turning to dynamic and reliable CRM systems. From one central place, charities can build strategic marketing campaigns informed by data, report and track their fundraising performance, automate marketing activity and monitor social media conversations.