Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition Mandy Johnson spoke up about charities’ use of digital technology at Navca’s annual conference this week, commenting on some of the recommendations made in the House of Lords Select Committee’s report Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society and subsequent associated comments by Baroness Pitkeathley.
Baroness Pitkeathley chaired the House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into charities, with the resulting Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society report released in March. In an interview in July on the ICSA website, the Baroness said that many charities were missing a trick on digitalisation, and that all charities, however small, ought to have some kind of very simple website.
In Mandy Johnson’s Provocation at this week’s NAVCA Future Forward Event, she said:
“Advising small charities to get a website or to get onto social media, that’s what we should have been advising charities to do ten years ago. The world has moved on and if all we’re advising charities to do is get a website, we’re not encouraging them to become digital.
“Because for me, digital is about embracing solutions to challenges that we’re facing. So it absolutely starts with identifying those problems. It’s about thinking what are the challenges that collectively we’re facing that we can address through technology.”
The Small Charities Coalition CEO also called on all the organisations present to work together to help small charities in this area, saying:
“My challenge to you today is how can we collectively as infrastructure bodies come together to listen to the challenges we hear our small charities are facing and present solutions to them. How do we get people thinking about their challenges and then how do we collectively think about the solutions, and how can technology be a part of that?”
In response, Ed Gairdner, COO of The Good Exchange made the following comments:
“The third sector is currently operating five to ten years behind the commercial sector when it comes to utilising digital technology particularly where it can be used to enhance fundraising and grant-making. Rather than focusing on the basics, such as websites and social media, we should be harnessing the power of digital to enable fundraising and grants to reach their end targets by facilitating new ways and enhancing current ways of doing things. In our view, until grant-makers accept that they are part of the digital problem and that they need to be part of the solution, digitising the sector will continue to be an uphill struggle.
“With this in mind, a more strategic and targeted approach to grant making is needed that will enable charitable projects to be found and auto-matched against the grant-makers giving criteria coupled with more collaboration between grant-makers, the general public and corporates, allowing the burden of risk to be shared across society and encouraging further charitable giving.”
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