Thursday, 21st March 2019

Not-for-profit organisations left behind in race to digital transformation

Advanced urges technology industry to help charities and membership organisations address demand for digital engagement.

Charities and membership organisations, especially those that are small or medium sized, are being let down by the technology industry because it is too distracted by “big corporates with big budgets”. This is according to Advanced’s not-for-profit chief who believes the industry is failing to support smaller not-for-profits who are under the same pressure as other organisations to digitally transform.

“Charities and membership organisations are trailing behind in digital transformation through no fault of their own,” says Mark Dewell, Managing Director – Public, Private and Third Sector – at Advanced. “They too face the daily pressures of running an organisation and the demands to grow an always-on digital community. This is without even considering the external factors they have to juggle, like the growing cyber security threats and data privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“The issue is that not-for-profits are renowned for having minimal resources and tight budgets. They can’t move ahead with digital projects alone, yet little support exists – especially for small to medium, lower income charities which make up a large majority1 of charities in the UK. The technology industry is blindsided by big corporates with big budgets, which leaves many charity and membership organisations believing that investing in IT is out of their reach.”

According to Advanced’s latest Trends Survey Report, 79% of charities admit that cost would hold them back from modernising their key business systems and processes. It’s this barrier that is forcing organisations to get by using archaic, manual and drawn-out processes. Worryingly, just 55% have access to accurate up-to-date, real-time information to make informed decisions – less than every other industry surveyed in the report2.

What is reassuring, however, is that charities have an appetite for technology and, in particular, the cloud as an affordable solution to modernising systems and processes. The same research found that 53% want to see cloud services in their daily working lives.

Mark adds: “The cloud is an obvious – and the right – solution. Increasingly, charities are recognising the benefits the cloud, be it public or private, offers in terms of meeting the need for digital engagement. We are seeing the same among membership organisations too. So, if the appetite is there, why aren’t cloud providers stepping forward to offer help? Not-for-profits arguably need more support than any other sector. It’s up to the technology industry to show them how the cloud can transform every aspect of engagement – whether that be with donors, supporters, members, volunteers or employees.”

The lack of support is exactly why Advanced has launched Cloud Engage – a cloud-based fundraising and membership system that is designed with small to medium charities in mind. It is a functionally rich and fully integrated online solution for engaging with new donors and members wherever they are on the web. The Cloud Engage portal can be configured to offer a broad range of engagement activities from simple enquiries and newsletter sign-ups to donations, direct debits, events of every kind, and membership.

With strong Content Management System (CMS) capabilities of its own, it can be blended into a charity’s website and offer highly configurable customer journeys without the need for expensive web agency services. And, because the portal talks directly to the central Cloud Engage database, there is no need for expensive data integration projects.

Mark concludes: “The world is changing fast, and charities and membership organisations want to keep up. They now want a system that is available anywhere on any device, hosted in the cloud, and with strong digital fundraising and membership capabilities. It’s perfectly achievable too. Cloud Engage can offer them a strong web presence and a deeply functional donor or member portal that integrates directly to the central database.

“No big budgets are required, and it means that small to medium organisations are no longer left behind – they can just get on with digital transformation like everyone else.”

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