5 Digital New Year’s resolutions

Things to try for micro-charities

  • Leadership
  • Service Delivery
  • 01-01-2020

If you are a smaller charity, it's hard to know which technologies you should be looking at and how they might help you in your day to day operations. 

In fact, the recent Charity Digital Index from Lloyds, says that over a third of charities don’t understand which technologies they should invest in to improve their operations. 

We’ve pulled together a list of 5 things to try in the New Year which will start to embed technology within your organisation, and we’re sure will help you both be more efficient and improve your reach. 

#1 Improve the digital skills in your organisation

In the recent Lloyds Charity Digital Index, a statistic "45% of charity leaders do not see digital as relevant to their organisation.  This is a worrying statistic!  The government has identified a set of digital skills that adults need to safely benefit from, participate in and contribute to the digital world. 

It covers a number of areas, but they include using technology to be able to:

  • Communicate effectively using tools such as email, Skype and messaging apps
  • Problem-solving using the internet as a way of finding resolutions to issues or problems
  • Being able to create content by using office applications or posting on social media platforms
  • Understanding how to carry out transactions online for purchases or to pay for government services
  • Being able to find, manage and store digital information and content
  • Understanding the importance of data security and how to minimise the risk of Cyberfraud

As charities, we care about the end-users of our service and rightly place most focus on them.  It is also important to remember that we have a duty to the people that work, or are stakeholders, in our organisations to make sure they have the right skills to work and participate in modern business and society.

There are lots of organisations providing free digital training for charities which would be a really good opportunity for people to learn how to use digital tools.  Giving people time to develop their skills in a supported environment is essential too.  The key thing is to start changing the culture of the organisation by thinking more about how technology can be used and how it can support the organisation to meet it's charitable aims.

#2 Use online meetings

One of the best parts about working in a charity is the sense of teamwork, community and having a shared purpose to improve the impact of the charity and the lives of our users. 

Meeting face-to-face is an essential part, spending time learning from each other and exploring ideas and innovations in a creative and friendly environment.  Sadly, because of time and budget constraints, this isn’t always possible.  Luckily, there are some really good digital alternatives to meeting face-to-face that provide a really good experience for collaboration and meetings.  Those users with less digital experience might need help getting these tools up and running, and even might need some encouragement to see their face displayed to the whole team on a webcam, but once over these hurdles, the technology can really support a sense of community. 

Good tools to have a look at are: 

If you already have Microsoft Office software, then Teams might be included in your bundle, so would be free.   

#3 Use a file-sharing website

Many charities share and collaborate on their documents using email. This leads to a number of issues with versioning, backing up and even emailing documents to the wrong person.  Online file sharing sites allow you to upload documents and share them with your team.  You can all work on these documents and know that they are safe, secure and backed up in case your computer fails.  Many sites are free or are cheap to run.

Good options are: 

#4 Get Social

 … and if you’re already social, get more social! 

Social media is a brilliant way to engage with end-users and stakeholders as well as raising awareness about your charity or service. 

It’s important to look at the user demographics of each of the platforms to understand which platforms will serve you best.  If you are a B2B organisation, it’s probably LinkedIn and Facebook, if you are B2C Facebook, Instagram or TikTok might be a better choice. It’s better to use one platform successfully, then attempt to cover every channel and be more sporadic in your posting. Consistency is key to engagement and as a result, more leads and inquiries. 

There are a number of tools which will help you manage your social media to reduce the amount of time you spend organising your posts: Hootsuite, Planoly, Buffer, Later and Tailwind are just a few of the many excellent scheduling apps out there. Some carry a cost, others have some free features. It is a good idea to utilise their free trial plans and work out which are the most suitable for your needs. Remember that analytics features are incredibly useful when identifying what type of posts are working for you and when so apps that make this easy to follow and understand should be the top of your list. 

It’s important to recognise that people don't expect cinema-quality video and audio when posting, particularly on short-lived channels like Instagram stories, so get out your smartphone, take a couple of photos or a short video of you with your end-users and post it.  If you do this regularly, you’ll be amazed at the response over time. 

#5 Use a CRM

A CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) is a system that allows an organisation to store all their contacts, customers and leads in place.  It is a core part of any sales team but can also be used in a number of ways by organisations who just need to track their contacts or donors.  Generally, you can manage your email distribution from these systems, as well as keeping tracking of people’s marketing preferences for GDPR compliance. 

The good news is that many companies had free versions for smaller organisations and charities, although you may find the paid-for features useful in the future.  I’m biased in that we use Hubspot at Energise Technology, but CRMs to look at are: 

And don't forget that if you need any more information, or would like help transforming your organisation through the use of digital, we can be contacted through the link below.

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Neil Cullen

Neil Cullen

Founder of Energise Technology

Neil is passionate about using technology to improve organisations and help them meet the needs of stakeholders and end-users.

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