The annual launch of Lloyds Banking Group’s Business Digital Index is an important reminder that the digital world is constantly moving and that charities, just like businesses, must keep abreast of the change. For that reason, we’ve invested £576,830 in digital support for 380 of our charities, in addition to the grants we provide to make sure they are working as smartly as possible.
The digital world is constantly moving and that charities, just like businesses, must keep abreast of the change
However while ‘Digital transformation’ seems to be on everyone’s lips lately, it seems to come with the implication that it is something mysterious or unknown. This is causing a significant attitudinal barrier towards technology for some charities who fear they might get it wrong, therefore creating procrastination and stagnation. So we’ve been considering some of the opportunities and barriers to embracing digital.
We know technology needs to be discussed as an enabler, for example the postage costs saved when emailing a newsletter, easily getting stock for a charity shop from a Facebook appeal, organising a supporters’ meeting through Whatsapp etc.
We know technology needs to be discussed as an enabler
Yet among charities we fund, investment in technology is often viewed as a ‘nice to have’ with staff pondering the implications of what they can’t deliver if they spend their funds on digital tools. Often the converse is actually true and they should instead consider what they can deliver more efficiently and more effectively with technology on a day to day level.
Taking a longer term view, we know from the Charity Digital Skills Report that only 27% of charities have aligned their organisational and digital strategy. Doing this makes the best use of any investment and ensures the consideration of purpose first. Digital no longer sits separately with an IT person, rather it underpins the work of the whole organisation and should affect everybody who interacts with it.
When working with charities on digital transformation we encourage them to get advice from multiple sources. They often face a lack of unbiased advice coupled with a lack of knowledge of the digital market place, which means that the advice they’re given may lean towards preferred suppliers rather than the best solution for their service.
The Lloyds Bank Digital Index states that 50% of charity leaders lack confidence in introducing technological change and many lack digital leadership, so recruiting someone on the Board and at senior executive level that embraces and champions technological change can be influential when investment is needed. Making time for peer-to-peer learning and sharing about how best to use technology will also reap rewards in the long run.
Having a great internet presence can create and maintain local advantage and supporters in a fiercely competitive environment. A strong Facebook Whatsapp, Snapchat or Instagram presence, which lots of people use ‘in real life’, can often be better, more interactive and cheaper than a traditional website, so thinking about how your audience uses technology is important when deciding which platforms to use. The Lloyds Bank Digital Index states that charities using social media are 51% more likely to report an increase in donations.
Having a great internet presence can create and maintain local advantage and supporters in a fiercely competitive environment.
As we know, the digital world is fast moving, so refreshing systems and people’s skills is something which needs doing every 18 months or so. It should be regarded as an investment that will support growth, innovation and succession. This needs to be built into the organisational strategy, otherwise investment in technology can be wasted and not properly embedded. Getting your early adopters and your naysayers on board early is a useful tactic to support implementation.
Finally, it is important to use data, not just collect it, but select the right things to measure, rather than measuring everything which will tell you nothing. These key performance indicators can alert the charity to emerging issues before problems arise. Eliminating paper based systems and storing data in a consistent way brings data together for comparison. This, coupled with feedback from users can be used to drive service improvements.
At Lloyds Bank Foundation we are proud to fund charities who are punching above their weight with the services they deliver with the limited resources they have. The call for digital transformation shouldn’t draw focus from this, but should encourage charities to make their systems work harder for them; to streamline their processes, strengthen their evidence base, and make them stronger contenders for future funding so that they can focus on what they do best, which is changing lives for the better.
Harriet Stranks, Director of Grants, Lloyds Bank Foundation