Are Charities Embracing Digital Technology?

Are Charities Embracing Digital Technology?

Last week, GoFundMe chief executive, Rob Solomon warned that large charities that do not embrace digital technologies will not survive the next decade. We examine how relevant this is to charities in UK.

Fully embracing digital technology differs from industry to industry and sector to sector. If you take our profession for example, accountancy, there are firms which are smaller who have embraced technology fully and have implemented seamless automated systems.  On the other end of the scale, there are even larger accountancy firms who still send majority of their communications by post.  In certain industries like manufacturing, technology is very quickly embraced due to fierce competition. Their ideology is that they need to improve productivity using new technology or they will eventually die.

The not-for-profit and charity sector is always lagging behind when it comes to innovation and embracing new technology. Some shocking statistics from the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index showed that some charities still do not use the internet, and that almost a third do not believe that having an online presence is necessary. Despite significant improvements in the technologies available to charities for lower costs, it’s still surprising that some haven’t given it thought, or have any intentions for the charity’s long-term plan regarding technology.

One piece of technology which charities should make use of, is the contactless donation machine. This is similar to a card machine from a supermarket that you tap with your bank card, in order to make a donation. It is simple, efficient and saves your fundraisers from having to hear, “Oh sorry, I don’t have any change on me”!

Going back to Solomon’s comments, he says, “I think it’s important that traditional charities embrace digital as the primary means to communicate with their constituents and raise money“.

He also points out that old-fashioned ways of reaching out to donors such as, direct mail and telemarketing worked in the past but as those donors are now in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, they’re not going to be around forever. It would be wiser for charities to then try connect with the next generation of potential givers who happen to spend a lot of time online. “That’s where they live, that’s where they consume everything”, he adds.

Putting aside raising funds, what Rob has highlighted above, we deal with a lot of charities who are still carrying on old processes that they did did, say 10 years ago. There has been little way in the progress of adopting technology for improving their operations or daily tasks. For example, I know of charities that still send out cheques! I cannot recall the last time I have seen a cheque…I haven’t even seen my own cheque book in years! The point is, online banking is widely available to everyone who has access to internet.  The amount of time charities can save by issuing payments, is the same time that could be allocated to important tasks such as applying for grants, developing fundraising campaigns and improving current systems.

If you would like to speak to me about improving and updating your current systems, you can contact myself, Suda, on suda.ratnam@raffingers.co.uk or on 020 3146 1608.

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