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Toni Gregory: Why the future of work depends on cloud-based technology

08 Apr 2021 Expert insight

Toni Gregory shares some of the main findings from Blackbaud's research about what charity workplaces might be like in the future

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A year after the first UK lockdown came into force, the Government’s latest roadmap means that the return-to-office is finally in sight for many third sector professionals. However, there is no return to “normal”, and instead, we appear to have reached a pivotal moment in working culture history where, for the first time, a unanimous shift in expectations from employees means that organisations must now adapt their existing working policies. 

Blackbaud Europe, in partnership with The Resource Alliance, has launched the Future of Work Report – a brand-new insight report that is based on a survey of over 800 fundraising professionals and in-depth interviews with eight charity leaders. Respondents shared their opinions on how well their organisation has responded to the impact of Covid-19, the benefits and challenges of remote working, and what will influence their future career choices. 

Flexible working is here to stay

90% of surveyed fundraising professionals said that they want flexible working to continue long-term, even when the pandemic is (hopefully) a distant memory. Whilst this does not mean that people want to work entirely from home, there is an overwhelming call for organisations to now adapt and make flexible working a standard offering. In fact, the desire for flexible working is so strong that 43% of professionals said they will never apply for a job that only offers entirely office-based working in the future. So, if organisations want to attract top tier candidates there is no alternative other than to update their workplace strategies. 

The great news is that a huge 94% of people feel trusted by their managers to self-start and do their job effectively remotely. So, after most non-profits have spent the past year working remotely, it should be fairly easy to embed long-term flexible practices. Right? Well, yes and no. A common challenge still faced by fundraising professionals is inadequate software and hardware. In fact, of the surveyed fundraising professionals who demonstrated a clear preference for going back to the office, nearly a quarter gave insufficient access to software as a reason why. 

“As a very small charity with very limited resources we had never worked remotely before, and we weren’t amazingly well set-up to work remotely. The first lockdown forced us to get better at it, so offering flexible working is now an option,” said Hayley Grocock, chief executive of Wakefield District Sight Aid.

The future is cloud-based

87% of fundraising professionals told Blackbaud that technology had been a key factor in being able to work effectively from home, with a further 83% citing the cloud-based technology in particular has proved to be essential whilst working remotely. The pandemic has shifted our working needs and expectations, fast tracking the implementation of new technology and tools for many charities with nearly two thirds of decision makers saying that they are now more likely to invest in technology as a direct result of Covid-19. However, there is no moving backwards and the need for technology is a legitimate long-term need if organisations want to live up to the flexible working expectations of their workforce. 

Cloud-based technology has not only been essential for keeping teams connected and working collaboratively, but also for stewarding donors and managing donations at a time when every penny has truly counted for the nation’s non-profits. Cloud-based CRM (constituent relationship management) software has allowed fundraisers to track the progress of appeals and connect their platforms and activities into one centralised place that the whole team can access from their own homes – a simple, but essential need during the pandemic.

So, as the sector begins to look towards life after an undeniably turbulent time and start to focus on what needs to be in place to retain and attract a strong and happy workforce, cloud-based technology needs to be on the agenda as an essential item, not a nice-to-have.

Read the full report

The full Future of Work 2021 Report is now available to read and download for free

Sally Falvey, Head of Corporate Go-To-Market, Blackbaud Europe said: “As we move into new, unchartered waters over the coming months, it’s never been more important to collaborate and learn from each other. We hope this report is a good place to start to help you have meaningful discussions with your colleagues and peers about what the future of work means to you.”

Download your copy of the Future of Work Report today on the Blackbaud Resources Hub. 

Toni Gregory is content marketing specialist at Blackbaud Europe

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