Last year, as part of the Status of UK Fundraising report, charities were asked to identify some of the main challenges that they believed would impact the sector over the next three years. A third of people said not having the right tools and systems, 42% thought it would be recruiting and retaining talent, and nearly half answered keeping pace with technology. The common link between these answers? They can all be helped by digital transformation.
What is digital transformation?
The term digital transformation might sound intimidating, but in reality it just means re-thinking how your organisation uses technology to improve the way people and processes work together. It’s called a transformation because when used in the right way, technology can have a positive ripple throughout your whole charity. For example, a well thought-out change has the potential to:
- Streamline day-to-day processes
- Enhance the way teams communicate with each other and external supporters
- Attract great new team members
- Allow you to provide extra value to your supporters and beneficiaries
If you’re visualising flying cars and robots marshalling your next event, then let’s put this in real-life context. Digital transformation is already all around us. Think Amazon Prime, Deliveroo, or even how schools have adapted to teaching online during coronavirus.
But I’m not a “digital” person…
We’ve seen time and time again how consumer trends and donor expectations go hand-in-hand. The perfect example of this is contactless giving. Tap to pay has slowly became part of every day life, resulting in people carrying less cash. This has meant that an increasing number of charities have had to adopt new contactless technologies in order to optimise giving opportunities.
Your supporters are aware that you’re a charity and not a tech giant. However, they will get frustrated if they can shop online and buy what they need in two clicks on their phone but then have to go through 10 pages of your website in order to make a donation.
It’s worth reviewing your charity’s current processes and asking yourself honestly
1) Are you keeping up with your donor needs?
2) Are you currently in a position to easily adapt your current processes?
Not being a digital expert shouldn’t stop you from undergoing a digital transformation. A great leader doesn’t have to know everything, instead they need to be able to identify key areas that can be improved and identify the resources required. Sometimes these resources may include needing to hire new talent, or to invest in the people you currently have.
Obstacles and challenges
Lack of resources and expertise – Yes, a transformation should make a noticeable improvement but that doesn’t mean a complete overhaul of all existing tech and systems. Be realistic about what you can achieve now and set a longer term strategy in place to tackle other issues over time.
Legacy integration – If your charity has had the same systems in place for decades then it might take time and effort for any updates. Focus on the end goal and what you’re working towards. Also remember that the longer you leave old or broken processes in place, the harder they will become to resolve.
Internal reluctance to adopt new technology – Unfortunately when it comes to change, there’s normally going to be a Debbie Downer somewhere in the organisation. People often reject the new out of fear that they won’t understand it, or that their knowledge will become obsolete.
Isolated systems preventing data exchange – If you have multiple systems in place then you may find it hard to merge them together for a slicker process. This is once again a time to remember that if you don’t have the answer then you may need to be willing to hire someone who does.
Key drivers of digital transformation and overcoming obstacles
Sarah Lowney, Director of Professional Service EMEA Blackbaud, is our own in-house expert on digital transformation. She’s recorded a webinar which looks at the key drivers behind digital transformation, overcoming obstacles (including how to deal with the Debbie Downers) and how your charity can get started on its new digital journey. The webinar is now available on demand, simply click here to begin.