The Greater Good: Digital Transformation for Non-Profits
While business areas of all kinds experienced extreme uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic, few faced as much uncertainty about their bottom line as those operating as registered charities.
Here was a sector built on the desire to help people in need, dealing with a considerable increase in demand for its services. Yet it was also one funded entirely by the generosity of others – in need of even more resources, at a time where people’s very livelihoods were threatened. That meant potential donors were feeling understandably less financially generous than ever before.
Indeed, a recent survey of charity sector businesses suggests as many as 94% of charities found there was more competition for both public and private donations. In response 71% said they were already looking at ways to be more efficient with both their fund raising, and managing their organisation.
That’s where digital transformation for non-profits can be so important.
Why is digital fundraising important for non-profits?
In the pre-smartphone world people’s interactions with a charity would come in a limited number of ways, like direct mail campaigns, TV ads, through on-street fundraisers, or visiting a charity shop. All effective strategies, but all with limited reach.
Digital transformation for non-profits lets them not only reach more people regardless of geography, but also to create more compelling, multimedia content that can convince potential donors to contribute. And all in a way that meets people where they are, across their favourite social channels, on whatever touchpoint they happen to be using.
Two key ways to modernise fundraising for non-profits include:
- Building an optimised non-profit website designed to drive and collect donations, and act as a content portal for everything your charity does. This might mean integrating a new content management system, or developing a financial management system for incoming donations and grants like the grant management system we built for WaterAid.
- Investing in digital marketing tools. We’ve already mentioned social channels, and you might want to devote some time to choosing the right ones for your service and audience – and also invest in the right tools to schedule and manage your social output.A fully digital customer relationship management (CRM) tool, meanwhile, could be one of your most important investments, offering you the chance to dig into valuable customer data that can shape the output of your campaigns and even your whole business. On top of this, there are SEO tools to help your content get seen by more prospects, tools to help you better understand your user’s on-site behaviour, and tools to help you schedule email campaigns.
Why is digital organisation management important for non-profits?
While a new website and improving the running of customer-facing campaigns might be a focus for many charities, others might have a fundamental need to modernise their entire operation – or take a fledgling idea and make it a reality using modern digital means.
That was certainly the case in the following projects, all of which are great examples of how non-profits are digitally transforming to deliver their services:
Although WaterAid already had a system in place to manage large grants, its capabilities were limited and the charity had outgrown it. Managing funds of £30 million+ each year, and with 150 active grants on the go at any one time, as well as historical records to access and manage, the charity needed a more comprehensive and robust grant management system.
As WaterAid’s customer relationship management and financial planning systems are Microsoft based it was important that the new system would be too, to support integration and data sharing. Working with WaterAid’s IT department, One Beyond drew up a specification that met all of the charity’s requirements, and quickly generated a prototype for users to review. This offered a chance for remote project teams to give early feedback from their remote locations.
The new system is able to capture all of the details of a grant and the conditions attached to it, and follow it through to project completion. Previously, systems administrators would have to download data into Excel to produce reports manually, whereas the new system supports live reporting. This is boosted by the ability to filter and search, so users can get to the information they need in a few clicks – for example identifying all grants for a particular country.
Find out more about our work with WaterAid here.
Scottish Huntington’s Association
When the Scottish Huntington’s Association realised its old, spreadsheet-based manual processes were causing more errors and creating more work than was manageable in the long-term, they decided that they needed to switch to a digital solution. However, the prospect of building such a system wasn’t easy – especially given that the charity’s myriad services were spread across 12 different areas north of the Scottish/English border.
The ensuing project was a great example of how digital transformation can completely change a non-profit’s fortunes – and fast! We turned around our first prototype in just six weeks, and the organisation felt the benefits almost immediately after the full launch took place. The health case management system we devised allowed the charity to track numbers of people affected by Huntington’s disease in their catchment area in real-time, and offered massive efficiency savings on report generation optimising it from over a month’s lead time, to literally a few minutes.
Find out more about our work with Scottish Huntington’s Association here.
The Good Exchange
The Good Exchange had the idea to create a matchmaking portal that could help funders find worthwhile causes for their donations. This was the kind of project that could only be accomplished meaningfully with a digital solution – and they launched the first iteration of their software in 2016.
However, when the charity discovered their existing software team weren’t skilled to upscale operations, they approached us and two other developers with a brief to build a completely bespoke platform from scratch.
After winning the pitch, we worked with the company to consolidate back-end databases and migrate everything onto Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform. Having done so, we then built an intuitive, highly usable portal that transformed both their donor journey and user experience.
Find out more about our work with The Good Exchange here.
Does your charity sector organisation need to modernise?
If you came to this post wondering “Is digital transformation sustainable for non-profits?” the answer is a resounding yes. The truth is that digital tools offer an enormous advantage for the charities who’ve already employed them – and an enormous opportunity for those who have yet to do so.
However, the examples above also show that digital adoption isn’t a black and white process, and even organisations who do take that step need to keep adapting and growing their operations.
Whether you’re at the start of that change, or already experienced and need to expand your scope, having the right software partner to grow with you can make all the difference.
At One Beyond, we have the experience to help your non-profit organisation to transform its digital capabilities. To find out more about how we can help, visit our Digital Transformation for Enterprises page or get in touch to talk to us in person.