As the pace of technological change continues to gather, this can be an agonizing choice for charities: Do they invest in new technologies and hopefully reap the rewards or do they channel their precious funds to the core services that help people?
Charities need to look carefully at the advantages of digital transformation; invest in the latest ideas and create the budget required for software development staff, interactive websites, mobile apps and for understanding data needs.
5 top reasons charities must embrace technology:
- Faster response time for core users of the charity
- Better data analytics for more targeted responses
- Less administration time reducing internal costs
- Smarter fundraising
- Better access for service users
Established, long-running charities must also consider the risks that technology can bring. The rise in digital has made it very easy for new charities to enter the market; new platforms are disrupting traditional charity donations. Look at the charity ‘Give Directly’ in the US: https://www.givedirectly.org. It is one of the fastest growing charities in the world. It literally connects donors to beneficiaries. Established charities may find themselves becoming less relevant in the future as people expect to give and connect through social media and directly see the impact their money is having.
AI will start to have an enormous impact on service delivery. For example, ChatBots are already capable of delivering help and advice. Also, instant translation programmes can help charities widen their support to refugees, overcoming language barriers.
There is also the big moral question of keeping the cost base for administration as low as possible. Donors want to see a big percentage of their money impacting directly on the cause not on charity costs.
At Fujitsu we have made digital transformation a key deliverable for our charity partnerships. Here are some examples:
Action for Children
The Digital Case Files project delivered over £366,000 of essential pro-bono support. Fujitsu’s support has enabled Action for Children to commence the major project of digitalising paper files, transforming the organisation’s digital efficiency and effectiveness. The objective was to free up the time of case workers creating manual files to enable more time to be spent on delivering services. This gives a faster response time benefiting the core users of the charity.
Fujitsu provided a consultant for three months to research a retail strategy. The result were new tills and PCs for Shelter stores and, through Fujitsu’s relationship with Juniper, secured network hardware. This work will transform Shelter’s retail network and significantly increase funding to Shelter through gift aid, as well as increased price accuracy, higher new goods gross margins and less manual staff time and processes. The new IT system also represents a route to gaining a complete 360-degree view of Shelter’s supporters, tracking all the ways in which they interact. And in doing so, this helps improving Shelter’s communication and engagement with them. Shelter expects gift aid from shops to increase from 10% to 23%, as it will now be digital and automated, rather than on paper forms. Over four years, this will result in a net cash contribution of £394,000 which will enable Shelter to help 10,242 families. The investment is also estimated to save one full-time post which will save Shelter £53,639 over three years. This will enable Shelter to help a further 1,625 families.
Fujitsu South Africa identified Little Rose as their charity partner in 2015. The Little Rose Center is a crèche, a shelter and a youth center in Kliptown, one of the poorest areas in Soweto. The center accommodates approximately 140 children. 80 children belong to the crèche (age 1 to 6) with almost 20 having found shelter at the center. Other children come in the mornings and after school for meals, homework assistance and leisure time activities. At present, Little Rose Center reaches out to about 150 adults that benefit from small job opportunities, feeding schemes and workshops. The partnership has seen an IT lab being created to support the education of the children. Further, the center is used by adults from the surrounding community for literacy classes, basic education and general access to the internet. The impact of this change is far reaching, helping to support future employability skills. Built inside a container, the center is equipped with Fujitsu Thin Clients, a Fujitsu Server and a Printer. Fujitsu ensures that limited down-time is experienced as the center is closely monitored and supported remotely. An IT Engineer is assigned to assist with any technical support. Children from ages 4 to 18 are attending classes every day of the week on literacy programs installed.
Charities are at a crossroads: they have the choice to take action now and use technology to transform and stay ahead or risk being left behind. The opportunities of technology for good far outweigh any potential negative impacts. In summary, investment in digital should be a priority for the third sector. We hope we gave you some ideas what digital can do for charities.