Charities must equip themselves to deal with technological changes. Charles Griffiths, Head of IT and Operations at AAG who provide IT Support for Charities, provides five ways in which charities can achieve sustainable digital transformation.
Charities are an essential part of society, and their services support people at times of great need. However, with limited resources, they are vulnerable to falling behind in a digitally transforming world. As the sector adjusts to life in a post-pandemic world, where hybrid working and on-demand services are the norms, there’s no denying that technology can improve these services and their effects massively. There is a real danger that charities will soon be left behind if they don’t make the necessary changes.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation involves improving existing or creating new processes, using technology as the driving force for business development. This transformation impacts all aspects of your organisation, from staff productivity to the customer experience.
For charities, technology needs to be used to help people in need. This can be anything from embracing social media for fundraising, automating processes through Artificial Intelligence (AI) to creating an app that allows users access to vital relevant services.
Why digital transformation is important
Charities are increasingly becoming, in some ways, victims of their success. With the increased demand for services comes increased pressure to deliver quickly and efficiently to help people when they need it most.
Digital transformation provides charities with a way to become more responsive to these needs by better tailoring their services to the individual. AI allows charities to collect information about their users, allowing them to provide help in a more personalised way, such as directing those with vulnerable children towards local support groups.
The internet presents an opportunity for charities to increase their reach and provide services on an entirely new scale. Online chat rooms link organisations with their users without the need for physical interaction, providing a safe space for people to ask questions and receive answers in their own time. Social media can be used for fundraising and creating awareness about a charity’s work.
Five ways in which charities can achieve sustainable digital transformation:
1. Digital Strategy
Developing a digital strategy is the best way to create a solid foundation for transforming operations, from finding opportunities for improvement in day to day working practices to developing new services and partnerships.
Successful strategies require flexibility and responsiveness to keep up with innovation in the sector; however, this has to be balanced with the need for patience to ensure that new technology is fit for purpose, secure and compliant.
2. Cyber Security
One of the main risks that charities need to be aware of when it comes to digital transformation is cyber security. Cybercriminals are developing increasingly sophisticated ways of stealing sensitive information, and the consequences of theft can be devastating for an organisation.
Without trust, charities will fail; donors won’t be willing to entrust their card details to an organisation that has not prioritised protecting data, so that organisation won’t be able to provide effective services. This means that any organisation embarking on a digital transformation journey must prioritise cyber security. Ensuring software is up to date and implementing two-factor authentication are just two ways to safeguard against online threats.
3. Improved Donations
Charities can use technology to simplify and improve the donor journey. The more seamless the experience of giving is, the more likely it will be that people make repeat donations. By hosting online fundraisers and setting up card donation portals, charities can make it easy for potential donors to help a cause without having their houses. Online donations must be made secure.
Blockchain technology improves transparency and traceability in the charity sector. This revolutionary technology monitors every transaction made along its chain, and these transactions are verified from computer nodes around the world. Charities can ensure donors are able to track where their money ends up and how it is used, and the decentralised nature of blockchains make it difficult for hackers to steal information.
Charities often lack staff with any formal digital training, which can make digital transformation and the implementation of new technology difficult. For instance, security is a key concern for any technological transformation. Without proper training, staff may inadvertently misuse new systems and compromise their charity’s security.
However, by providing staff with the necessary training and resources, charities ensure that they can take advantage of the latest technology without compromising the quality of their services.
5. The cloud
Cloud computing offers a cost-effective alternative to expensive on-site IT infrastructure. Services are managed remotely, removing the associated maintenance costs and allowing staff access to important files over the internet. As these services are scalable, charities only pay for what they need, cutting costs of redundant storage; this is a huge help for organisations that are struggling with limited resources.
In addition, the cloud offers robust cyber security. These vendors have the resources to protect multiple organisations’ data across their network, so charities can be sure that their data remains secure.
Digital transformation is a necessary step for charities to prepare for the future. It’s important to remember that digital transformation is a process rather than a one-off project. Some digital strategies may take years to implement, but charities can approach them as a series of small steps that will gradually engage supporters and improve the organisation over time.
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