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Sector Insights / 3 minute read

Charities and the Digital Age

Beyond Survival: Adapting to Thrive 

 “I've always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.”

― David Benioff, City of Thieves

Volunteers for charities in the digital age

What “little monsters” keep charity leaders awake at night? They come in many guises: funding cuts, fierce competition, a rapidly changing and unpredictable landscape, increased regulation, negative press and rising donor expectations. A heady mix for the small hours...

Where do the solutions lie? Opinion polls and research invariably point to the transformative potential of technology. This isn’t to underplay the challenges or suggest that it’s a panacea for all that ails this crucial sector. Cultural shifts are often a necessary part of the mix too. But for those charities working immensely hard just to keep the lights on, technology has the power to shrink the monsters.    

How? By bolstering fundraising, increasing operational efficiencies, enhancing marketing and PR and improving the donor experience - and more besides.  

Here, we outline the value of a digital approach and share some practical tips and hand-picked resources especially for charities.

How to: Protecting Your Charity In An Evolving Digital World eBook Link

Evidencing the Value of Digital for the Charitable Sector

A really strong benefit of digital is that you can reach a bigger audience more quickly, more widely and in a more scalable way."

― David Skelton, Google

Investing in tech delivers quick wins and pays long-term dividends. According to Lloyds Bank Digital Index 2017 highly digital charities are ten times more likely to save costs.

Another compelling advantage is fundraising. In the UK, it’s conservatively estimated that 25% of charitable donations are made online - via websites, apps and social media - with 21% on mobile devices.

This trend is relatively recent – and rising. In 2017, charitable giving online was up 12.1% from the previous year (1). These figures are probably unsurprising when we take a quick tour of the statistics for the country:  
  • In 1996, the percentage of households with a mobile phone was 16%. Today, this figure is 95% (2).
  • In 2013, the number of those using mobile apps was 31 million. By 2016, this rose to 43 million (3).
  • Our use of social media has exploded, with over 39 million users at the beginning of 2017. Indications are that this figure reached 42 million in January 2018 (4).

Clearly, the untapped possibilities of mobile comms and apps are huge. By adopting digital fundraising methods some charities have seen a 600% increase in donor giving (5).

Avoiding the Big Bang Approach 

A thoughtfully designed cloud-based infrastructure can:

  • Provide a secure and robust platform for fundraising and operational activities.
  • Improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
  • Support the delivery of vital services.
  • Deliver greater accessibility, connectivity and uptime.
  • Connect and support remote workers, aiding collaboration and working practices.
  • Help with compliance, e.g. the GDPR, with improved controls around the management and protection of personal and sensitive information.
  • Act as a foundation for the future, by facilitating the adoption of other technologies with greater ease.
  • Break down silos, integrate disparate data and systems, improve insights and analytics

Read how Diabetes UK benefits from the cloud. In common with the commercial sector, many charities are on a journey to the cloud. The trend is the adoption of a hybrid model: maintaining some systems on-premise with the phased movement of others to the cloud.

There are many advantages to this iterative approach, not least of which is that a staged migration plan places less pressure on IT personnel, who are typically overstretched to start with.

We help charities navigate the myriad options to arrive at the best blend of cloud services. This includes a service wrap-around to ensure their systems are secure by design and easily accessed. 

IT Lab’s interview with Microsoft is packed with tips on Building an Effective Hybrid Cloud Environment.

Hand Picked Resources Especially for Charities

So that you don’t have to, we’ve been deep diving the internet to find some of the most helpful resources, articles and insights for charities. Browse them here alongside some guidance from IT Lab:

If you'd like to explore how we can help your charity to thrive in the digital age, click here to contact us

Reference Sources 

  1. NPT UK: Charitable Giving Statistics in the United Kingdom.
  2. The Statistics Portal: Percentage of households with mobile phones in the United Kingdom.
  3. The Statistics Portal: Number of mobile app users in the United Kingdom
  4. The Statistics Portal: Social media usage in the United Kingdom.
  5. Charity Digital News: The potential of digital tech in charities outlined in new report.

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