Sight loss charity Guide Dogs is to rebrand and launch a new website next year as part of its plan to more than double the number of people it helps, senior leaders revealed this week.
The announcement was made by Ray Brooks, chief information officer at Guide Dogs, and Marie Orpen, the charity's head of digital, who were giving a session at Civil Society Media's Charity Technology Conference about developing the charity’s digital strategy.
Brooks said that Guide Dogs has been on “an epic journey this year” and that “by Christmas every member of the executive board will be new,” with the marketing and fundraising directorships having been broken up.
Orpen said that Guide Dogs currently helps around 200,000 people, but said there are still a “huge number of people that don’t get the support that they need, either from the state, or from society”.
She said the charity's ambition is to reach 500,000 people in the future, and that expanding its use of technology was the key to reaching this target.
Guide Dogs has set up a technology programme board to drive this change forward, but Brooks and Orpen said the charity wants to integrate its digital strategy into its overall strategy in the future.
Brooks revealed that Guide Dogs is “doing a lot to reposition us as a brand,” because even though 95 per cent of people say they have heard of the charity when prompted, unprompted awareness amongst the public is low.
“If you say ‘can you name ten charities?’ only 2 per cent name Guide Dogs,” he said.
The new branding is scheduled to launch in March of 2019.
Brooks said that the charity was also looking at ways to “diversify our fundraising” to make it “fit for the future”.
Guide Dogs is also planning a complete overhaul of its website, which Brooks and Orpen said would go live next year.
“When I joined in April I took a look at the site and found it, unfortunately, lacking,” Orpen said.
She added that the charity have made some improvements to the existing site.
For the new site they are focusing on improving user experience by making content more relevant and easier to access.
Part of this means involving service users.
“It is possible to code and design a website that is accessible,” she said “but when you speak to real users it isn’t as accessible for them so we need to ensure that we are working with them.”
Another major project is the move towards a single database for everyone who comes into contact with the charity.
Brooks said that at the moment “we have too many data sources”.
“If you are a volunteer and you become a member of staff, we ask you for all your details again,” he said.
He said it is possible for the people who have multiple roles to end up on “five different databases”.
Having the one database will enable staff to focus on other things. Brooks said that at the moment there are “people who spend their entire life doing data cleanses”.