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Helping charities to secure digital safety nets and look beyond the pandemic

Without a doubt, all industry sectors have been hit hard in 2020 and had to adapt their operational strategies quickly. Charities are no different and look to be in big trouble - with an estimated potential funding gap of £10bn, as demand surges but donations tail off. Aside from their army of volunteers, the UK voluntary sector had a paid workforce of more than 900,000 last year (according to the UK Civil Society Almanac) and large amount of the charity sector’s best-known names have been forced into major job cuts.

Covid-19 has created a perfect storm for the charity sector. At a time when demand for charitable services has skyrocketed, the number of volunteers has fallen, paid staff are furloughed and income has nosedived.

Digital transformation has shot through to pole position as a vital survival tool for so many organisations during the pandemic. This article explores whether the digital tech skills gained during the outbreak have the potential to help the charity sector stay resilient over the much longer term. Digital can help charities adapt more quickly to challenges, recover from setbacks, and make the most of resources during times of financial hardship. In-person fundraising events are cancelled, shops are closed to customers and donations and charities have been forced to change the way they fundraise and predominantly engage with their audiences online. They’ve had to adapt to new remote-working cultures and online ‘community fundraising’ is fast becoming the lifeblood of many these organisations, with engaged audiences working harder than ever for their chosen charities.

Through the efficiencies gained from digital fundraising, operational speed, and time-saving processes, digital transformation can give charities of all sizes a much-needed make-over - both online and in offices and there’s lots on offer to help charities of all sizes (not just the major players).

Charity Digital launched the #BeMoreDigital campaign back in October, a free virtual event designed to help charities navigate the new era of digital fundraising. It was the perfect collaborative platform to hear how other organisations are adapting to the new fundraising environment - with specific information on the tools and tricks they’re using and the hardships that they’re facing along the way.

It should be noted that even before the outbreak of COVID-19, many charities were starting to harness and reap from the power of digital fundraising (think JustGiving, Gofundme etc). However, the pandemic has accelerated with force, the digital agenda for charities and led to a surge in reliance on digital fundraising for survival. Digital strategies shaped accurately now, will mean uncertainty can be shaken off, because an agile business plan has been future-proofed and implemented properly.

Embracing new technology is about more than making money. It’s largely about making systems, processes and tasks easier, saving time and effort, and reaching more people than you ever could with traditional fundraising strategies. Innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and creativity has led to many charities shifting to fundraising online and using more technology to build relationships with more people. Digitalisation is no longer an option, but a matter of survival. It is possible to make progress by increasing the focus on digitalising processes and operations and embracing the technologies that will ensure business continuity and future post-Covid resiliency.

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