The world is digital. As a non-profit, this presents an opportunity to take your charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation to new funders, donors and volunteers.
Digital is transforming the way we live, learn and work. Here, we’ll dip into what digital means for charities, the voluntary sector and non-profits.
What is digital anyway?
Digital has become a buzzword over the last decade and like a lot of buzzwords, it can be hard to pin down what it really means, even as we can’t deny its impact. For some organisations, digital means new technology, for others it means new ways of connecting and engaging with funders, donors and volunteers, or even entirely new means of fundraising. This diversity reflects just how digital is transforming the way we live, learn and work.
In a nutshell, digital is storing bits of all kinds of information as 1s and 0s. Deceptively simple but the shift from analogue to digital has had a profound impact: it gave us computers, electronic records, the internet, social media and a multitude of new ways to communicate, trade, connect and engage with people around the world or just a mile away.
When some people say digital, they could be talking about the technology, information, or skills that have impact on the people, culture and processes in a non-profit. How a charity, social enterprise or non-profit makes use of digital has an effect on how it is seen, its strategies and ultimately, its impact.
Who’s doing what online?
The world is online. With over 40% of the world’s population online in 2015, (up from 1% in 1995), chances are you’ll find your funders, donors, or volunteers using digital in one way or another.
And what will you find them doing? Most of the 92% of the UK with access to the internet are shopping, watching videos, or socialising and sharing on social media, with new ways to use the connected web of the internet emerging all the time. Non-profits are also dipping their toes into digital, with many charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations having a website or web presence.
Despite this, many charities are struggling to develop digitally and improve their digital literacy. Some notable cases of non-profit organisations using digital to transform how they serve their communities, raise funds and attract volunteers include Asthma UK and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Asthma UK has developed a digital asthma action plan for beneficiaries after judging that they were poorly served by the paper-based action plans currently provided in primary care.
The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has expanded its volunteer base by 450 per cent as a direct result of its HR and digital teams working together to allow staff in all departments to use a variety of tools, including Skype, Yammer and Office 365, to bring them closer to the people they serve.
Tip: You can find Asthma UK’s digital asthma action plan on the award winning Asthma UK digital resources page
So, what does digital mean for my non-profit?
For the non-profit organisation, digital is changing who you can reach, how you can serve your community, and how your organisation operates. To take advantage of the digital trend means more than having a website. It means understanding what digital means and how to use it to help your charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation do the most good.
That means everyone in your organisation understands how digital works. With good digital literacy throughout your non-profit, how much more of an impact can you make in your community?