The public have high expectations when they interact with charities digitally, making it important for fundraising and IT departments to work together, Save the Children’s leaders said yesterday.
Gemma Sherrington, executive director of fundraising and marketing, and Jon Curry, chief information officer, at Save the Children delivered the closing plenary at Civil Society Media’s Fundraising Live and Charity Technology Conference yesterday.
Sherrington said her team’s goal is to “build a really vibrant, inclusive base of support”.
Key to doing this is to focus on “really deepening connection and creating real bonds with our supporters”, she said.
This means “observing and listening to your supporters to your audiences”.
She added: “I am absolutely overwhelmed and bamboozled by the number of trend reports.”
Instead of relying on these reports, she said Save the Children is trying to listen more closely to its supporters.
“I really think our anchor is around our supporters, what are you really thinking, doing or feeling in real life and what do we take from that to adapt our activities? And that's a big part of our approach.
“So if our best chance is to listen and observe our supporters, then actually, digital and data are incredibly important pillars in what we do.”
And these supporters “demand that we are brilliant at digital”.
She said this is partly because the commercial sector with large budgets is focused on this.
“So it makes consumer expectation just skyrocket too. And then as a sector, we've got to really work hard not to lag behind and not to feel like complete dinosaurs in the ways that we're trying to engage people.”
Sherrington described collaboration with the IT department as “critical” because “data can really help us understand our supporters, values, desires and needs”.
She said: “If we operate in silos, the only thing that we can be certain of is that we won't achieve maximum impact for our cause. So we've got to collaborate right?”
Curry added: “The technology strategy is there to support those key organisational elements.”
He also said it was important to acknowledge the changes staff have been through during the pandemic.
“We need to recognise that the experience that we all have had, in the last two years has changed everything. The way that we work, where we work, and how we work will not go back to the way it was in 2019 before, and so how does technology best support both for progress monitoring but also for all of the functions within the organisation.”
To help make progress on their ambition Sherrington and Curry have created two new roles: chief digital officer and data strategist.
Curry said these people will “help us develop and get a roadmap for digital strategy and how we're going to get around that data strategy going forward”.