A recently elected MP said that it made her feel “uncomfortable” when she realised how similar charities are to businesses.
Gillian Keegan was elected at the last election and has spent 30 years in the technology sector. She was speaking at a fringe event about charities and technology organised by the Charities Aid Foundation.
She said: “One of the great things about becoming an MP is all of the things you become aware of about the community.”
Keegan later added that she had never previously had much contact with the charity sector, however when she realised how similar it was to the for-profit business sector it made her feel a “a little bit uncomfortable”.
She said businesses become more efficient through outsourcing, economies of scale and consolidation, adding: “I am not sure we want [those things] happening in charities”.
‘Charities will not escape the digital revolution’
Keegan also said that charities cannot avoid being affected by technology developments.
“The next technology revolution will reshape industry and the third sector will not escape that,” she said.
She urged charities to embrace contactless payments for donations, as people still wanted to donate but do not always carry cash.
‘We need flexible digital volunteering’
Keegan said the sector should develop more flexible ways to volunteer and use digital to connect with people.
“Where is the next generation of volunteers coming from?” she asked, adding that it was mainly “retired” people who she had seen volunteering.
She said she thinks the problem is that it is currently difficult too "dip in and out" and called for “platforms to focus on flexible volunteering” and think about “21st century model for volunteering.”
Editor's note: this article has been ammended to clarify that Keegan thinks the current system doesn't enable people to dip in and out of volunteering and should be made more flexible