This week we spoke to Matthew Moorut, head of marketing at Technology Trust, about the importance of industry events, key online resources available to charities today and the future of fundraising.
For those who have not heard of Technology Trust, how would you sum up what the organisation does?
We’re a charity that helps other charities use the right technology to be as impactful as possible.
We’re probably best known for our software donation programme, tt-exchange, but we also offer loads of other services for the sector, like tt-mail, which helps charities engage with supporters and donors with a clever email platform. As well as that, we do admin for Google for Nonprofits and Office 365 in the UK, regularly give charity-specific advice on IT in our blog and lots more.
As the marketing manager at Technology Trust, what does your role involve?
A lot! We work with about 25,000 charities in the UK now, but actually we’re quite a small team, so we’re always kept busy. We run a few different services to help charities work more effectively/efficiently, but in quite different ways, which means managing various different projects at the same time.
Our blog is full of IT advice specifically for charities, for which I do the majority of research and writing. Plus, I maintain our websites and social media, put together newsletters and emails, help organise free, UK-wide Grow Your Charity Online events with Google and much more.
How ‘digitally mature’ is the charity sector?
How would you describe the relationship between the third sector and technology today?
It really depends on the charity. Some charities do more exciting, innovative things with technology than a lot of businesses, whilst others are way behind.
As a whole, the charity sector is apparently the least digitally mature of any in the UK, which is a shame because nowadays technology offers solutions to most day-to-day problems a charity will face, and remedying those can really help increase impact.
There are a few factors behind that, most of which make sense. For example, private businesses that use tech best are the ones that aren’t afraid to try new solutions (cheaply) and move on quickly if they don’t pan out. That’s not always possible in charities because of stronger obligations to avoid wasting money.
However, reviews are now easier to come across than ever, and more software can be trialled before purchasing. It still takes time, but at least there shouldn’t be a risk of wasting money.
Of course, with that being the case, charity workers tend to be some of the most time-constrained too! We’ll try to help to connect the dots as best we can and make it all easier, but as charities are all so different, charity workers will need to spend some time looking into the tech that can best support their cause. I promise it will be worth it in the long run!
Which non-profit do you particularly admire for their use of social media/their website?
I was at an event where the head of digital at the WWF was speaking a couple of weeks ago, and I was really impressed with the things they’re doing. They were mostly things that small charities can do, like A/B testing all of their landing pages (they used VWO, but I’d recommend Optimizely for a small charity because it’s free up to a certain size). They were using Tableau to easily see trends in detailed data (which is available through tt-exchange now for £40 for 2 years now). And (although it took a lot of planning), their #EndangeredEmoji campaign was a brilliantly simple way to use modern trends to get donations out of social media and texts.
How do you think traditional fundraising methods will be affected by the emergence of online initiatives?
I think it needs to change. When you look at the things that have come out recently – the cold-calling, door-to-door knocking, harassing vulnerable people – none of that is necessary at all. If someone has signed up to your email newsletter, then donors can personalise their subscriptions if they don’t want to receive certain things, charities can segment and personalise messaging so they engage better with the donors who are happy to be contacted, and the whole operation costs way less. It’s the same on social media.
Events and challenges like marathons, bake-offs etc. will continue of course, and rightly so, but they’ll be integrated and supported online, by promoting them on social media beforehand, giving running totals of money raised during, and by following up with attendees and participants after.
‘Good use of technology is going to be essential’
How do you envision the future of digital fundraising?
In my opinion (and bear in mind I’m no soothsayer), giving will become a lot more weighted towards one-off campaigns and short-term donations. I don’t just say that because of viral campaigns, but because online behaviour is such that people expect to see results immediately. In terms of fundraising, that means people want to see exactly how their donation will help. It explains the explosion in crowdfunding against any other fundraising method.
The fact that donors want to see exactly how they are helping means that the successful charities will be the ones that can join the dots the best. The key will be doing that in a cheap, time-efficient way, so that it costs the charity little to let donors know where their money is going in a simple way, and so more time and money can go to the cause itself. For that to happen, good use of technology is going to be essential. And if that happens, it can only be a good thing.
How important are events/talks within the charity sector?
It’s really important to share information so that the charity sector as a whole can work as effectively as possible. For that, nothing beats talking directly to someone currently, which is why we often run free events through Grow Your Charity Online, and why I’m happy to support the Charity Digital Insights events that are just starting up. I’m hopeful that as internet connectivity and webinar software improves, that will make it all easier, but admittedly it’s not good enough to replace live events completely yet.
What are your top online resources available to charities today?
There are a few no-brainers for charities, all of which are completely free and have no drawbacks.
- Sign up for GiveAsYouLive: it’s basically free money for charities that comes from Amazon, John Lewis etc.
- Sign up for Google for Nonprofits: it’s available across the UK and gives thousands of dollars’ worth of ad grants every month.
- Sign up for Google Analytics and Webmaster tools: they give you all the information you need to make your website perform as well as possible.
- Sign up for tt-exchange – it costs nothing and we’ll then be able to tell you exactly what software donations your organisation is eligible for.
- And lastly, sign up for our newsletter! No spam, but charity-specific advice for free every month.
‘The biggest change has been in the technology sector rather than the charity sector’
Since Technology Trust launched in 2001, what do you think has changed the most in the charity sector?
I think actually the biggest change has been in the technology sector rather than the charity sector. In 2001, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no cloud-computing, no big data, no smartphones – it’s a completely different world today. It’s had a massive impact on society, the way we think and behave and how we interact with each other as well as organisations.
The upshot for charities is that it’s a million times easier to use world-class technology now than it was back then, because almost everything is simpler and quicker to install and use and cheaper to access.
Charities in general may have struggled to keep pace with the rate of change in technology, but, like everything else, they’ll have to adapt if they want to survive behavioural changes and maintain the valuable services they deliver.
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