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  • Patricia Magee

Embracing digital transformation in the 3rd Sector

We are living through a time of profound economic, social and technological change and the environment in which third sector organisations are working is changing dramatically. The “new normal” won’t just be a return to the “before” so the need to adopt and transform how organisations operate is crucial now more than ever.

Arguably, the most important transformation is to be more digital. #Charities’ and third sector organisations’ record in the use of digital platforms is mixed. While some are at the cutting edge of new technology, others have yet to realise its potential with regard to fundraising, volunteering and communications.

From my own experience of working with #thirdsector organisations for the past 5 years, I know it can be difficult to know where to start and what to be aiming for so I wanted to share some things your organisation can do ahead of the “new normal”.

First things first:

1) Make or update your website

Your own website will allow you to foreground your brand and your mission, making your organisation recognisable and credible. I know what many of you are thinking. But we have a Facebook page, why do we need a website too? Of course, social media platforms are vital, and I’ll get to that next but they can’t provide all the features and benefits that your own website can. Ideally, social media should be used to compliment your web presence rather than substitute it. Wix, or Wordpress are a great place start. If you don’t feel comfortable designing your own website, why not put a shout out across your social media platform to see if anyone would be willing to volunteer some time to support you on this. With more of us at home there is no better time!

So, what next?

2) Digital marketing

It’s time to spread the word and drive traffic to your site. By using social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram), email and online advertising you’ll be able to identify, target and reach a much wider audience of people who might be interested in your work. Just because face-to-face and in-person contact has changed dramatically, it doesn’t mean that your organisation can’t continue to connect with members, service users, volunteers and funders etc.

You can contact previous donors/ #funders directly to keep them updated about future projects. Consider sending out regular information about how your work is going and the difference it’s making. Why not try using video to share good news stories and showcase how donations are being used? By looking at certain hashtags, you can also find other people who are interested in your cause. That way, you can forge new relationships and tap into a wider pool of support.

I know this sounds like lots of work and your probably wondering where your organisation can find the time to do this but luckily there are plenty of online tools and services to help you manage this. For example, Later and Hootsuite allow you to plan, schedule and analyse social media accounts in one place and Mailchimp automates mass email campaigns. Platforms like Zoom, Wattsapp and Facebook Messenger are also great tools for enabling your organisation to continue to connect and deliver important projects and initiatives.

Okay, so we’re now connecting with people and they know who we are but how do we raise funds from all of this?

3) Online giving

The way we handle money is changing. Society is moving more and more towards functioning without cash and the ongoing pandemic has expedited this. It is unclear when traditional #fundraising events will resume and given the ongoing pressures the sector faces with regards to income generation it is vital that #charitable organisations take advantage of the alternative avenues available to them. GoFundMe and Just Giving are great options to explore and can help your organisation to deliver a whole host of virtual fundraising campaigns from the comfort of your home.

I know the term ‘digital transformation’ can seem daunting and that during these uncertain times it can be difficult to know how to move forward but following the steps above can get you on the right path.


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