Charities are not evolving fast enough to keep up with technological development and risk losing out to more nimble and progressive competitors, according to Amnesty International’s former global digital communications director.
Speaking at the Odgers Berndtson, Odgers Interim and Berwick Partners Annual Not-for-profit Sector Reception, Owen Pringle, now Director of Therein, a digital business transformation consultancy, warned the sector that it must do more to put digital at the heart of organisational strategies.
Owen Pringle said: “We now have two decades worth of examples in terms of how digital has reinvented entire industries, whilst handing unprecedented levels of control to customers. Yet, many organisations, including some in the third sector, believe that tweaking their existing business models around the edges is an adequate response to this rapidly changing environment. A digital strategy focused only on customer engagement and income generation misses out on opportunity areas in other parts of business operations.
“While charities have been successful in engaging their volunteers and patrons online through social media, this is not where a digital strategy should end. There is so much potential for organisations to digitise other areas of their operations – from research and recruitment to product development and fundraising.
“Radical thinking will be needed by charity leaders to ensure that they not only stand out against intense competition for recognition and influence, but simply remain relevant to new audiences as digital-age not-for-profits and social enterprises enter the market.”
Becky O’Connor, Consultant at Odgers Interim, said: “As the not-for-profit sector comes under increasing pressure to drive efficiencies and break away in a competitive market, we have seen a marked increase in charities looking to bring in external expertise to implement significant change management programmes. No doubt, we will see digitisation at the top of board room agendas in 2015 and beyond.”
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