Report shows how charities can be on the path to a digital future

A new report into innovation in the charity sector warns that charities must embrace digital fundraising to remain relevant, identifying six key areas that need addressing.

Chloe Green | 10th Jun 19
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A new report claims that current fundraising models of charities are not fit for purpose, but that charities may not be prepared for technological change.

The ‘Future Charities’ report released by Kivo, Manifesto Digital, and Massive consultancies features a survey of 105 people currently employed in the charity sector in-depth interviews, and an afternoon workshop with senior charity specialists.

Charity respondents were asked what concerned them most about the future, and what the barriers to success were. Once identified, the report focused on six factors which are needed to address the technological, social, demographic and economic challenges facing the industry: redefining purpose, building confidence, securing the right people, measuring meaningfully, collaborating actively, and looking beyond the sector.

When asked about the biggest challenges the charitable sector is facing, “disruption to traditional fundraising methods” was the second most-recorded answer. However, less than 33% of respondents agreed with the statement that, “our organisation is ready for the next decade of technology.”

While “data management capabilities” were problematic to fundraising, other respondents noted underinvestment and internal digital skills were reasons for technological pessimism. 54% of survey participants disagreed with the statement that “our organisation is investing enough in technology”; 52% rated the digital abilities of the leadership team as poor or very poor.

 

Fundraising innovation needed

Challenges to fundraising included remaining relevant to the younger generation and employing new marketing techniques.

“Brand loyalty isn’t what it once was,” said Cait Allen, Chief Executive Wessex Cancer Trust, who took part in the survey. “Our traditional, loyal, supporters are in their 80s and 90s now. Millennials are changing the ways they interact with charity and generation Z are purely instant givers. Charities have to completely rethink their strategy to survive in the digital era.”

Other respondents noted that: “Raised expectations when it comes to technology and supporter experiences. Ease of donation, clarity of journey etc.” will have a big impact on the sector in the next decade.

Michael Docherty, CEO of Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust noted that: “Fundraisers need to be excellent marketers, they need to motivate people to take action when there are thousands of other organisations trying to do the same.”

The report continued: “It’s more that charities can’t afford to keep up so many digital channels without employing real niche experts for salaries well above sector average. They will lose out through not being able to be flexible enough compared to commerce. Particularly, small and medium sized charities will suffer more.”

While the challenges in digital leadership and fundraising were clear, many interviewees also spoke of the positive opportunities which new technologies present. 75% of survey respondents thought that changes in technology could affect their workplace and organisation in a positive way.

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