Time for Charities to ‘Go Digital’

Everyday life is becoming increasingly digitalised, with more and more people using technology in all aspects of their life, from social media, to booking a holiday, checking the weather or simply passing the time of day reading a book.

The way in which people want to receive support is also changing. Gone are the days when the only support for people was either to ring a helpline or walk into a ‘support centre’; people want to access support in their own home, at a time of day that suits them.

The increased uptake and reduced cost of smartphones (and other technology such as tablets) presents a huge opportunity for charities to:

  • reach more people;
  • reach a cohort of people who have never previously accessed support;
  • reach those who want to remain anonymous;
  • provide an enhanced service to those they already work with;
  • streamline the organisation to do more, for less. 

Digital tools and services are no doubt cheaper for charities to deliver, can be personalised to specific groups and individuals, in addition to providing more support to a greater number of people. However, despite the many benefits, relatively few charities are developing digital tools and services to improve their delivery.

Technology is a powerful tool to bring about social change and charities are in a prime position to harness its benefits. A paper published at the end of October 2014 by Nesta looked at just this (http://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/going_digital.pdf) and I have tried to summarise the main learning and tips below:

  1. Technology is the means and not the end. Do not let ‘going digital’ take away from developing and delivering your core service that meets the needs of your users.
  2. Developing technology requires new digital skills. Be prepared to invest time and effort in the right team who are happy to co–design with users and are aligned with your ethos.
  3. Getting buy–in from trustees and management is crucial. A shift in culture within the charity in inevitable and therefore it is crucial to work with staff within the organisation to embed the innovation into the foundation of the organisation.
  4. Plan future funding requirements. After initial investment, keep in mind any funding requirements which will be needed to maintain momentum as the innovation develops.

Technology is a powerful tool: with increasing uptake and decreasing costs of digital technology, it opens up huge opportunities for charities to deliver accessible, affordable, effective and personalised solutions at scale and low cost.

For more information or an opportunity to discuss any thoughts on this, please contact Kate Evans on 0161 209 3383 or email kate.evans@d2digital.co.uk