Seven ways to encourage your leadership team to go digital

Digital Zoe Amar Blog

I’m really excited to be working on a new Third Sector Digital Leadership skills course with The School for Social Entrepreneurs.  Our aim is to help the leaders and senior management of charities and social enterprises integrate digital into their organisational strategy, including how they should capitalise on the key opportunities and manage the risks. We’ve partnered to deliver the course as our work has shown time and again that there are many CEOs, trustees and senior non-profit leaders who know that they must engage with digital but are struggling to do so as there have been few resources or training programmes to assist them. The course is for third sector leaders as well as senior digital professionals from charities and social enterprises who are looking to move up the career ladder to more senior roles. We believe that course is unique in bringing together these two groups who will learn much from each other. The course will cover all the hot digital issues including the latest trends, culture change, service delivery, finding and managing talent, fundraising, data and managing reputational risk. It takes place over four days in October and November 2016. Find out more. We’re offering a free taster event on the 5th May where Steve Ford, CEO of Parkinson’s UK, will talk about his journey with digital. Book here. In the meantime, here are seven quick tips to get your leadership team thinking about why they need to engage with digital.

  1. Show them how it will help your organisation. I guarantee that if you sit down with your executive team or board and go through your corporate strategy with them digital will be able to help you achieve many of your goals. Just talking this concept through with them and getting them thinking along these lines will help.
  2. Find a staff champion. Who in your organisation is already doing great things on digital? Perhaps they are doing brilliant work with data or have a good social media presence. How could you promote what they do?
  3. Show people what your competitors are doing. This often motivates leadership teams to start taking digital more seriously. Tip: show them how digital is changing the nature of the organisations they are competing against. We’ve recently worked with a number of big charities who realised that some of the biggest threats came from small, agile, digitally native nonprofits working in the same space.
  4. Confront risks. Time and again I hear from senior people that they know their charity must go digital first but they are worried about reputational risk, or how they will deal with colleagues who are determined to stay analogue. Have a frank conversation with your executive team about what could go wrong and what can be done to mitigate risks.
  5. Don’t forget the story behind the numbers. Us digital types love analytics. Yet your much loved spreadsheet will be one of many that your board see. Make it stand out by helping them interpret key analytics and giving them case studies as well as quantitative data.
  6. Show them how culture will make a difference. Culture is often overlooked. Yet you can have the best digital strategy in the world and it will be stifled if your organisation’s culture won’t allow digital to flourish. Here’s what you need to do on culture change.
  7. Manage expectations. Digital transformation is not going to happen overnight. It might take months or years to move the needle on digital, but it will happen if you are persistent and patient.

These seven tips will get your executive team thinking about digital. If we really want our sector to embrace the opportunities digital offers we can’t do it without our leaders. To help them further,  do send them the details of our course.

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Zoe is director of Zoe Amar Communications, a marketing and digital communications consultancy who have worked with leading organisations including ActionAid, Crimestoppers, Macmillan and Anglia Ruskin University. She blogs for The Guardian about charities and communications and is on the advisory board for The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network. She co-founded the charity #socialceos awards.