Charity Digital helps charities save £200m on software
Charity Digital is celebrating as it has now helped its fellow UK charities access £200m savings on software.
A charity that helps its fellow third-sector organisations access donated software is celebrating as the savings it has helped to realise topped the £200m mark.
Charity Digital was set up over 16 years ago to explore ways that charities could embrace new technologies for social good and now serves 32,000 charities. The organisation, which provides donated products from the likes of Adobe, Cisco, Microsoft, Symantec and others, has passed the milestone as charities increasingly turn to digital tools in order to drive efficiency and boost fundraising.
Trends over time
Charity Digital’s Chairman, Charles Mindenhall, comments: “In our first thirteen years, UK charities saved £100m through our programmes. That same amount has been saved again in the last four. In the last financial year alone, over 5,000 new charities registered with us, saving £22m on IT procurement costs between them.”
“The rapid growth is being driven by the realisation within the sector of the benefits that technology can bring to charitable organisations, while at the same time, many are finding that they need to evolve to make stretched funds go further.”
Growing with technology
Charity Digital has come a long way since its early days, when work was largely funded by grants from tech entrepreneurs and focused on early technologies such as digital raffles. The major breakthrough came in 2006, when Cisco and Microsoft enquired about the possibility of donating hardware and software to UK charities, building on a successful US pilot with the California-based NGO, TechSoup. By charging a small administrative fee per product received, Charity Digital was able to develop a social-enterprise model to further support the sector.
Further leading tech partners came on board over the next decade, encouraging more and more charities to sign up, from household names like Save The Children and Oxfam to small local charities. As registration for the IT donation programme is free and any fees typically only cost 4% of products’ fair market value, many organisations have been able to utilise technology that they simply couldn’t have afforded otherwise, as hundreds of Trustpilot reviews attest.
For many, Charity Digital is seen as a great enabler of the technology revolution within the charity sector. One such person is Peter Jacobs, Head of Digital Engagement at The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who says: “The research into the third sector is clear that there is a real risk that many charities will not survive if they cannot embrace digital as a way to increase donations, improve engagement, become more efficient and measure their impact.
“The platforms that Charity Digital is building should really help the whole sector get excited about the possibilities of digital, upskill on the basics and find solutions and suppliers that will help them on the path to scalable, efficient services, through informed use of digital and technology.”
More to be done
Despite having saved charities over £200m, Charity Digital recognises that there is much more work to be done to help the entire charity sector.
While progress is clearly being made by many charities, others are failing to evolve – to the detriment of their causes. A recent survey by Charity Digital shows that 93% of charities with a digital strategy expect their funding to increase next year, while only 26% of charities without one feel the same. Worryingly though, the 2017 Lloyds UK Business Index shows even more charities have what Lloyds consider ‘low digital capabilities’ than last year – up from 12% to 16%.
In the pipeline
On the back of this, Charity Digital is working harder than ever to support digital transformation within the sector.
That work includes the launch of the Charity Digital 101 guide, which will build on the educational content and news blogs on the organisation’s Charity Digital News website. The Charity Digital 101 will provide a platform through which trustees and senior managers can collaborate with others going through similar journeys. A charity-technology marketplace site will follow, helping IT service providers and cloud-based companies to discount their offerings to charities.
Charity Digital’s overriding ambition is to empower charities to accelerate their missions with modern technology, which they hope to achieve by providing access and information about digital tools in a scalable way – and that can only be a good thing.