Focus on users, charities told 

Charities looking to transform through digital must focus on how their users will benefit, voluntary sector teams were reminded in London last week – as a new digital code emerged to help charities increase their impact. 

matt haworth reason digitalCharities must keep users in mind when considering new digital products and services, working back from what they want to achieve overall, voluntary sector leaders were urged last week.

The advice came at the Charity Digital Conference, hosted in London by the Directory of Social Change with tech-for-good transformation agency Reason Digital.

Leading charities sharing their transformation stories at the one-day event included Age UK, British Red Cross, Breast Cancer Care, CLIC Sargent and Parkinson’s UK.

There was also advice from tech for good agency CAST, which last month published a set of 10 digital design principles.

Cancer charity CLIC Sargent said it was deploying digital products to help it meet its target to reach a third of young people with cancer online. To achieve that it had implemented “non-sexy” improvements like a new user database.

Age UK said it had introduced its new Call in Time befriending service to help meet its target of reducing isolation and loneliness among older people.

By focussing on one manageable change that will benefit service users, smaller charities can deliver meaningful change, as well as the bigger organisations with in-house digital teams, said Reason Digital.

“Digital transformation is becoming a concern for more charities, not just the bigger organisations,” said Reason Digital director Matt Haworth (pictured). “As organisations mature digitally, they’re realising that digital is just another tool they can use to achieve their charitable aims, or business objectives.

“To do that, they’re also focusing on people, skills and governance – not just commissioning big-bang, one-off websites or apps.”

Among themes covered at last week’s event were GDPR, future tech trends, funding for digital innovation and tips and tricks for digital marketing. These included:

  • Finding a digital ally on trustee boards
  • Avoiding long-term strategies as digital is ever changing
  • Starting with measurement to understand impact.

Tech Trust reported earlier this year that six in 10 charities do not have a digital strategy. It has created a list of free resources available to help small to medium-sized charities.

In a separate development this week, charity consultancy Do It launched a consultation on a new charity digital code, designed to help charities large and small to increase their impact.

Photograph by Jonathan Perugia at Gaia Visual.