One year as Charity Digital News CEO: lessons learnt
We take a look back on Jonathan Chevallier’s first year as CEO of Charity Digital News and ask what’s next in our mission to help charities make the most of digital.
It’s been a milestone year for Charity Digital News as we welcomed our new CEO Jonathan Chevallier and set into motion the next stage of our evolution. Today we sat down with him to celebrate his first year anniversary at the helm and reflect on how far we’ve come.
Since our launch in 2001, we’re proud to have helped more than 36,000 charities save a whopping £200m on technology through the Charity Digital Exchange software donation platform, as well as helping countless charities better understand how to use digital to drive their missions through Charity Digital News. Watch the video below to find out more about our work and the challenges1 of charities and digital in Jonathan’s words. Read on to find out what Jonathan had to say about his first year with Charity Digital News.
Charity Digital News: Looking back on your first year, what have been some of the standout challenges?
Jonathan Chevallier: It’s been a really busy year. There have been some significant challenges because we knew that the revenue from the donation programme was going to decline as a result of some of the changing rules of our tech company donors.
This meant we had to focus more on why we’re here as a charity – how we’re going to continue to offer access to valuable tech at low prices through things like the discounted and donated programme, and also increase the digital skills of the sector and grow the role of Charity Digital News as a platform.
I guess the gratifying thing is we’ve made huge progress on that over the year. That means that we can keep Charity Digital News totally free of charge for charities, which we’re very committed to.
CDN: What’s been your biggest personal achievement?
JC: It’s hard to pick out just one thing! As well as growing the audience we’ve launched our first multi-stream conference, which was hugely successful, great feedback from delegates and sponsors, and were pleased that it covered its costs. A lot of people lose money when they start a new event, so we’ve got a platform we can build on.
We also launched our webinar programme. For Charity Digital News, written content is great and it gets to a really wide audience, but I’m conscious that a five minute article is different from people joining us for a conference or a webinar where we can achieve deeper engagement than we might achieve with a standalone article.
CDN: What’s it like leading the team at Charity Digital News? How does it compare to other organisations that you’ve been in?
JC: It’s a very supportive and caring culture, very collaborative and people want to help each other to be successful, so in that way it’s a very unpolitical environment.
It’s also an environment where people care about causes. People enjoy the fact that we’re here to have a positive impact. We don’t have a single end user cause in that we’re not directly supporting young people, refugees, animals or anything like that, but actually we’re supporting all of those causes as we support the charity sector as a whole. I think that people who work here enjoy that feeling and it permeates a lot of the interactions we have and the way we work together.
It’s a bit of hybrid because our business model is not about fundraising from the general public, it’s a trading business model and we do bring elements of commerciality. But at the same time, we have a purpose that gives us a different culture from an organisation that is just there to make money at the end of the day.
CDN: What do you enjoy most about working at Charity Digital News on a day to day basis?
JC: As a person, I like change and variety! The great thing about my role is there is lots of variety. I really enjoy those interactions I have with the charities, and then I’ll be spending time working with a business sponsor, which is a very different type of interaction. At the same time I’ve got to think about digital marketing and how were going to grow our audience, and also check that the numbers and finances are stacking up, so it’s massively varied.
Also, there’s the opportunity to come up with lots of new ideas and initiatives. Luckily we’ve got a great team who are very capable and able to run with different ideas as well as contribute ideas of their own.