Digital transformation has been sweeping the globe rapidly as technology has become more efficient and accessible. This includes the growth of online shopping, to booking management systems, to online databases. There has been plenty of opportunity for organisations to improve their processes, customer experience and general culture to adapt to a modern way of working.
Charities and digital transformation
The switch to digital can be more difficult for charities and not-for-profit organisations. We know that with digital transformation comes a cost (although, you could call it an investment). And for organisations who rely on funding and donations, this can make digitalisation seem like a daunting task – financially and practically.
However, the sector has certainly seen a push to digitalisation following the pandemic and a lot of learnings have been made. Rapidata’s recent research has demonstrated this by concluding that over two-thirds of UK charities increased their digital presence following lockdown.
As a specialist in charity insurance, we know all about the struggles your charitable organisation faces. Here are some simple tips to digital transformation for your charity or non-profit organisation.
Tips for charity digital transformation
• Bridge funding gaps with remote working
While it’s impossible to fully embrace remote working for many organisations, it may be a positive solution to help lower expenditure for some charities. For example, office-based charities could down-size their office space and introduce a hybrid working policy. Or they could even move to full-time remote working altogether. This could be a good way to reduce outgoings in relation to running an office, such as rent, electricity and extensive office equipment.
There are lots of things to think about when considering a switch to more remote-based working. Things like whether your organisation is set up to work from home, and whether your staff/volunteers actually want to.
Did you know that research shows that 75% of workers feel more productive working from home due to reduced distractions? And 97% say having a more flexible job would have a “positive” impact on their quality of life. Doing your research and asking your staff their opinions is a positive first step in deciding whether remote working will suit your charity’s objectives.
• Make the most of your website
Recent research showed that online one-off donations grew in volume by 26% year on year in 2019. And younger donors are some of the most generous in the UK, so it's important for charities to have a strong online presence.
But despite all this, 42% of small charities* still don’t have a digital strategy in place.
If you don’t have a website already, you can now build and host one quickly and cheaply with platforms such as Wix and GoDaddy.
Once you’re set up, fill your website with useful, value-added content and resources to keep your users coming back for more. You’ll also want to make sure your site is user-friendly and search-engine optimised to improve your online visibility.
*The Status of UK Fundraising Report 2019, Blackbaud & Institute of Fundraising
• Register with charitable giving platforms
As digitalisation becomes more important and young people look to do more for charity, platforms that allow people to donate to charities are becoming more popular.
For example, Toucan is an app specifically built for doners who want to give easily and regularly to charity. As a charitable organisation, you can register with Toucan so that doners have the option to choose your charity to donate to. The cost for signing up as a charity is free and your organisation will receive 100% of any donations made, plus gift aid.
• Grow your social presence
With over 53 million social media users in the UK, social media is an easy way to reach and engage new audiences for free. Plus, it’s where a huge proportion of younger donors who, as we mentioned above, are looking to be more charitable are spending their time. So, it makes sense to start to develop a regular presence on the platforms that they use.
If you’re not already on social media and are unsure where to start, here are a few quick tips:
Research your channels - Not every social platform is right for every audience, so the first step is making sure you’re posting in the right place.
Keep your brand in mind – Keeping the style of your content consistent is important when you’re trying to build brand awareness. You can do this by following brand guidelines.
If you have guidelines already in place, make sure you follow them. Think carefully about your tone of voice, style of creative assets, brand colours etc. But if you’re a small charity, you may not have the resource yet. However, you could build your own guidelines using a free resource like Canva’s “How to create a visual style guide”.
Get posting– Use hashtags and tag third parties (where relevant) to maximise reach. Post a mixture of content (e.g. blogs, infographics, video, gifs) to give your audience a variation of useful information.
Trust the data – Monitor the performance of your posts so you can see what type of content works and what doesn’t. Then you can build your social strategy around your audience and make sure you’re posting the content they want to see.
• Get creative with your fundraising
With more digital opportunity than ever before, you may want to think outside the box when it comes to fundraising. Rather than just focusing on location-based events, why not expand some events into the online space to include a wider audience?
Online web conferencing facilities such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have made it easy to run online events from a distance throughout the pandemic. And there’s no need to stop using these platforms if your charity still has a need.
Read about how our charity partners innovated their fundraising efforts during the pandemic.
• Take a wider view of your digital marketing and communications
Your website and social media channels are great places to start. But what about email? PR? Partner activity? There’s a whole range of marketing activity that your organisation might be missing out on.
This is a great opportunity to challenge your marketing staff to develop a wider marketing plan to explore channels you haven’t before. Or if you don’t have a marketing team, maybe it’s an opportunity to create a business case for one. Or maybe you could advertise for marketing-focused volunteers!
• Upskill your team
We understand that some charities may not have the ability to hire a dedicated team or staff member to support with digital transformation due to budget issues. If this is the case, why not give existing employees/volunteers the opportunity to upskill? There are plenty of free courses available online, and there might be social media experts already on your team that you don't know about.
Digital funding for charities
When it comes to funding for digital transformation in the charity sector, it’s always worth keeping an eye on the list on the government website. Once government funding is officially announced, you only have up until the closing date to apply. So it’s worth acting fast as your application may take some time to pull together. You could even set up Google alerts to be notified when something new is posted about grant funding for charities going digital.
Digital support for charities
Other than direct grants, there are a number of other initiatives to support charities and not-for-profit organisations. Here is a run-down of a few that we’ve come across:
Good Things Foundation tries to “fix the digital divide” by co-designing free online learning resources to allow everyone to thrive in a digital world. This includes resources like:
o Learn My Way – a website of free online courses to help people build digital skills and make the most of being online.
o Make It Click – lots of free resources to help people improve digital skills and develop their careers.
Charity Digital helps charities improve their digital awareness and access, connecting them to the digital expertise they need. They partner with leading organisations to provide charities with access to the UK’s only discounted and donated technology platform. They also provide connection to the best expertise in the sector.
They also have an impressive selection of online events and resources. These include free webinars on topics like ‘How to throw a fundraiser’ and ‘Turning data into donations’.
Catalyst is an organisation that connects charities and supporting organisations with free resources and services to grow their digital skills and processes. They offer a variety of free support such as online courses and accessing digital advice from a volunteer digital expert.
CAST is a charity that helps organisation use digital for social good. They support non-profit organisations to embed digital and design across their services. They do this through a variety of initiatives which have historically included collaborative digital training and courses focused on exploring digital service delivery challenges.
Digital Charities is a community of people who work across charity and social-good sectors. They share digital knowledge and support each other in delivering compelling digital content, experiences, solutions and campaigns. You need to be employed by or work predominantly for a charity, NGO, social enterprise or government organisation to join.
NPC is focused on maximising social impact in the lives of the people that you serve. They help charities, foundations and various other organisations through their services. These include publications, events, policy work and consulting.
Although not specific to charities, HubSpot is an online learning platform which offers free digital courses and certifications. They cover topics including marketing, sales, service, web design, development and data privacy.
Protecting your charity against cyber risks
With an ever-increasing reliance on technology, it’s never been more important to make sure your charity is protected against cyber risks. After all, no organisation - big or small - is immune to the fallout of a data breach.
We have over 30 years of experience working with charities and not-for-profit organizations in the UK. We partner with leading insurers to provide competitive coverage, expert consultation and specialist advice for charities, community groups and not-for-profit organisations.