In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, many charities have experienced a big shift in their services. Just as the pandemic has affected many businesses financially, the same applies for the charity sector. As many as 2 in 5 charities reported that their financial situation had deteriorated in October alone, and this was before the January lockdown. While charities are experiencing financial difficulties, at the same time there has been an increasing demand for the services they provide as the impact of unemployment and lockdown trickles down to individuals. Just as many businesses have been forced to innovate, so have charities, and that includes putting more emphasis on improving digitally.
Benefits of going digital
More streamlined internal processes
Virtual meetings and video conferencing has become the norm. Tools like Zoom or the Cloud have allowed more efficient and organised internal communication. Moving operations online means that charities have better databases to extract information. CRM tools also mean charities can create and monitor reports more efficiently, allowing them to better measure their impact and goals.
Increased reach and online presence
As more causes have moved to online platforms, social media has come to play a key role in expanding charities’ reach for donations and opportunities. Online platforms also help charities build relationships with other charities. Hashtags, logos and online campaigns make it easier for charities to collaborate with other organisations that share a common goal. In this way, charities can expand their reach and create an even greater impact. The ‘Giving Tuesday’ campaign, created in 2012 as a way to encourage people to do good, also went global as celebrities and charities banded together to support specific causes, resulting in a 69% increase in online donations.
Access a larger pool of volunteers
Just as how Studenteer originated, the pandemic has spawned the realisation that charities and students could be connected remotely. Charities more than ever have been able to benefit from flexible and remote volunteers that can bring digital skills and willingness to learn. Having a wider digital demand means charities can benefit from a larger pool of volunteers, and volunteers have more opportunities to work digitally with charities.
Expand their services to be more accessible to all
The pandemic has forced charities to find alternative ways to deliver their services safely, which has resulted in a surge in remote delivery. Charities have realised that they can access more recipients, like those in remote locations or groups they didn’t realise they previously had demand for.
Through digital fundraising and virtual fundraising days, charities are able to continue attracting donors, whilst also expanding their reach to more new donors. For example, the London Marathon was held virtually in 2020 and won the Guinness Book of World Records title for ‘Most users to run a remote marathon in 24 hours’. Charities have even been more active this year for fundraising events as the virtual experience opens up more creative potential.
How successful have charities been?
The Charity Digital Skills Report released in 2020 suggests that whilst charities are gaining confidence in going digital, they are still lacking skills and funding in these areas. The potential is there for charities to improve many aspects of their operations, whether it is internal efficiency or improving the range of services – but now more than ever charities are in need of volunteers with digital skills.
The question now for charities is whether they will continue trying to enhance their digital operations post pandemic or whether they will try to regain previous ways of providing their service. It is without doubt that no matter how large or small the organisation, technology is a worthwhile investment for a charity. As seen with the pandemic, digital skills and technology can help charities in the long term to ‘bounce back’ from new challenges or financial difficulties where they face a lack of resources. Charities are expanding digitally, but more expertise and infrastructure in these areas is still needed. It is now more than ever that charities are looking for volunteers with digital expertise and willingness to take on digital roles to learn in the charity sector.
By Annie Park for Studenteer
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