The impact that successful digital transformation can have on a charity is significant. Having focused many of our efforts in the delivering technology within the charity sector for a number of years now, we’ve seen what a change it can make and have actively sought to enable charities to leverage digital effectively, allowing them to see the change, deliver the transformation and realise the benefits.
We were honoured to have sponsored the IT Leaders event at Charity Finance Week and the Charity Technology Conference, hear how so many charities are building their awareness and understanding of the importance of digital transformation. It struck me however how the same questions being asked: “I have a CRM system but what do I do with it?”, “my board want us to do something with all the data we have, what should I do?”, and “we seem to be fixed on AI but not sure what to do with it?”
Too often we focus on the tech and implement technology for tech sake. Whether you are taking your first steps towards transformation or your digital landscape is already well developed, it’s important to take a step back and identify how change can positively impact your organisation, rather than solely focusing on the what, it is important to consider the why and then the how.
The first questions to ask should consider your business goals and what will drive the organisation forward. The solutions are out there, but nobody’s digital transformation is the same as one another and so solutions are not homogenous.
Think outside the box
Having taken a step back and gained a wider perspective on things, you can start to find inspiration from other sectors. There is no reason why you can’t look at how technology is being implemented elsewhere and then adapting it to fit your needs. Financial technology, for example, has been reshaped in recent years by the introduction of contactless payments. For charities, that means that contactless donations can now be made, which removes a barrier and makes donating money that little bit more accessible.
Elsewhere, Internet of Things devices have found their way into our homes in the form of smart devices – speakers, televisions and even fridges. By looking at how that technology is being used in other sectors, we can begin to understand how we can repurpose it, which with these devices could be to allow people to live more independently in their own homes. Technology has a huge potential to act as an enabler in any number of ways, and by drawing inspiration from outside your usual field you begin to uncover new possibilities.
Remove the roadblocks
Technology exists to make our lives easier, but all too often members of organisations are put off of the idea of transformation because of fear – fear of the unknown, of change, of cybersecurity. That presents a huge obstacle between your charity and successful digital transformation, and so removing that barrier is the first step to implementing change. That starts with keeping them involved, understanding their issues and working through them, ensuring that the technology being put in place will impact them in the way it should. One of your first ports of call should be to consider the digital maturity model, assess where your organisation is in relation to it and then move forward from there.
Map out your journey
Transformation is not about a simple transition from point A to point B, it’s about continually learning and evolving depending on what is right for your charity. While it is therefore impossible to follow a strict plan, you should outline a digital roadmap to ensure that you are building on the firm foundations you have laid out and that you reach your goal efficiently, but this shouldn’t compromise your agility. Being able to adjust and tweak your approach throughout the process is key to making sure that your digital transformation impacts your charity in the right way.
Once you have identified how technology can benefit your organisation and plotted your path towards successful transformation, it’s time to start implementing those changes. Having identified the impact you would like technology to make on your organisation and made sure it is grounded in purpose, rather than using technology for the sake of it, you can begin to build those intelligent ecosystems that will act as a vehicle for future proofing your charity. By ensuring the technology is there to, first and foremost, enhance the performance of the organisation, the sky is the limit as to what you can achieve.
Nathan Baranowski is managing director at Ojo Solutions.
If you are looking to make your charity’s next step towards digital transformation, we are here to help. Whether you’re a small, local organisation, or a national foundation supporting millions of people, we can show you the way, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Civil Society News would like to thank Ojo for its support with this article.