3 reasons why small charities should embrace digital

Small Charities Digital

When it comes to digital, small charities can take small steps for big impact. Digital needn’t be thought of as a big hurdle that needs a whole load of time set aside to tackle it. In fact, it is all the small ways you can integrate digital technology into the way your team works on a daily basis that are really exciting. Here are three good reasons why even the smallest charities should embrace digital. 

1. There’s simple, free tools you can start using today

Embracing a shiny new digital persona is a daunting prospect for many small charities, but you don’t have to undergo a digital transformation overnight to make progress. Many of the digital tools and platforms available are free, and being a small organisation can often mean more agility in adopting new digital ways of working. Raise The Roof Kenya are a great example of one of our small charity members who are using digital to their advantage:

“Digital is key to the success of our organisation. Raise The Roof Kenya is a small, volunteer-run charity with staff and trustees based all over the world, so for us, integrating digital isn’t just an option – it’s a necessity. By using digital platforms like Whatsapp, Appear.in and Basecamp to communicate effectively across our teams and networks and empower our staff in Kenya, we’ve increased the time and funding available to focus on our priorities – expanding our projects and making an impact in the communities we work with.” – Bryony Partridge, Communications Director, Raise The Roof Kenya.

On an everyday level, digital can start with really small things. In the Small Charities Coalition office we use Google docs for non-data sensitive collaborative work. Not only does it make it a whole lot simpler to collectively edit a document, it’s a time-strapped small charity’s dream. Using relatively simple tools can help instil digital ways of working across an organisation, rather than it sitting just with one ‘techy’ person.

2. Digital will make your charity even stronger

From May 2018, new GDPR laws will mean that not having a firm grasp on how we gain consent from our databases could have real consequences. As a sector we need to make sure that all charities are suitably prepared for these changes and don’t get left behind. There are many online resources out there that can help get you ready for these changes, including this nifty guide from Clearcomm on how to get started.

The digital skills report from Zoe Amar and David Evans showed that around half of the charities surveyed didn’t have a digital strategy in place and just 27% have digital integrated into their other organisational strategies. Serving beneficiaries well is increasingly about communicating with them in a way that’s quick and already exists as part of their everyday life. This is explored in depth in the ‘Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society’ report published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities, with a dedicated section emphasising the important part that digital has to play in charities’ sustainability. 

3. It’s social… and fun!

Being part of a small charity can be a lonely existence at times. But there are entire online communities out there full of people just like you wanting to connect and chat about all things charity and non-charity related! Social media is a brilliant free way of reaching new people and can take just a few minutes to set up. To get started we recommend checking out Charity Connect and joining the Third Sector PR and Comms Network and Fundraising Chat groups on Facebook.

(Note: Fundraising Chat has been set-up as a secret group on facebook to avoid spammers asking to join. Existing members can add their Facebook friends (if they are fundraisers) or the admins (Lesley Pinder or Lucy Caldicott) can add you if you send them a message with the email address you use for Facebook and let them know where you work/your connection to the charity sector).

Where to go for help

Reach is brilliant for recruiting trustees with digital experience. Digital skills, or lack of them, is a governance issue and getting digitally savvy trustees on a board is a must-have. 

Lloyds Bank Foundation’s ‘Facing Forward’ report says that: “If boards and leadership teams don’t start owning the development of their digital skills their organisations will become irrelevant, fall out of touch with their audience, and lose ground to competitors.”

Technology won’t wait for us, however small we are or brilliant our cause, and the good news is digital doesn’t need to take a lot of time, work or money.  For small charity support, training and resources head on over to www.smallcharities.org.uk.

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Felicity heads up all communications, marketing and events at Small Charities Coalition and is passionate about up-skilling and empowering charities to create a thriving sector.