Charity digital transformation: Thrive in the age of digital

It goes without saying that charities are completely different from any other income generating organisation. ‘Digital Transformation’ is a term that is constantly used through all sectors right now, particularly charity. Driven by values and decisive by cost, it’s a priority that charities maximise on what digital can offer to ensure return on investments happen.

That term ‘digital transformation’ does not only relate to technology progression. It also relates to behaviour changes and demand that affects the way an organisation implements a strategy that harnesses a shared goal. In November 2018, the government announced that they are allocating £1 million of funding to support training programmes to help charities to improve their digital skills. Whilst the application deadline has passed, this article explores why it is important that charities embrace digital and looks at some charities who have transformed their digital strategy by doing things differently.

When the funding was announced, the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright said: “We want charitable organisations to thrive in the digital age and are committed to helping them get the most out of technology, which can act as an enormous force for good. Through this programme, charity leaders will have more opportunities to enhance skills and boost employee confidence while creating a greater and more positive impact on people and their communities.”  

Also, in 2018, the government set out the ‘Civil Society Strategy’ which outlines how the government will work with organisations and individuals and examines five foundations of social value.

A report in 2018 showed that:

  • 45% of charities don’t have a digital strategy.
  • 15% have undergone a digital transformation and have embedded it within their company.
  • 2% of charities are still struggling to access basic tools of digital.
  • 9% of charities feel that employees within the organisation understands their digital vision.
  • 62% taking steps to improve their culture and understanding of how digital tenders are affecting their work.
  • There has been an improvement on innovation and digital product development with 29% compared to 24%.

In the report, organisations were questioned on how they rate their digital skills as the graph shows: A significant proportion of the organisations believe that if a charity increased its digital skills, it would improve their networking and deliver a strategy more efficiently would be second on the list.

Crunch recently worked on an innovative charity campaign (link to the case study) which embraced a fully digital approach which positioned the charity in a clearer place amongst competitors and reached to the required audience and a new wider audience. The messaging within this particular example had to be written in a sensitive manner due to the nature of the charity and what the campaign was about.

Over the next ten years, there are predictions that digital will transform and further develop with innovations in AI, Image Analytics and Speed to Insights. There is a prediction that by 2023 that 80% of the population will have a digital presence which will see the number of users increase drastically and spend more time on the web.

An example of a charity fundraising exercise that immersed itself in digital was the Ice Bucket Challenge which peaked in 2014, yet people still remember the challenge with videos on social media. Individuals who have a high public profile such as Mark Zuckerberg, Tom Cruise, Oprah and Eddie Redmayne.

2 years after the challenge peaked, The ALS Association announced that the funds raised had funded a scientific gene discovery, with research in September 2014 showing that 1 in 4 Britons taking part in the activity.

Another example of a digital charity organic campaign that went global is the #NoMakeUpSelfie which raised £8 million, for Cancer Research however this particular campaign did cause controversy as a columnist wrote how the campaign awareness was about vanity and emotion rather than useful action. It was started by an 18-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent who said: “I’m overwhelmed and still think I must be dreaming. I’m just very proud and it’s thanks to everyone that it’s been so successful.”

“So many women wear make-up and none of us really need it. The women who have done it are all so brave in a world that expects us all to wear make-up constantly.” This shows that a charity campaign doesn’t need a well-known name to ensure that a campaign begins to have the recognition it deserves.

These campaign examples show clearly the power of how campaigns can start small and generate worldwide recognition and transform overall charities. Through embracing digital, charities will be able to reach out to new audiences and transform the way they approach their campaign strategy.



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