Charities should embrace tech, says new research

The Future Charity report compiled by Manifesto provides guidance for charities looking to adapt and evolve in the next decade.

Lack of change in the charity sector will be the biggest threat to its future success, as just 25% of charity employees think their organisation is well-equipped for scoping out future working practices, according to a new report.

Creative and technology agency, Manifesto, change consultancy, Kivo, and fundraising and events agency, We are Massive, have partnered to launch a report about the future of charity, looking at the biggest challenges facing charitable organisations in the UK between now and 2030.

The 50-page report surveyed 105 people currently employed in the charity sector, through a series of in-depth interviews and an afternoon workshop with senior charity specialists.

The Future Charity report considered the effect that future factors - such as Brexit, climate change and a reduction in personal giving - may have on the charity sector.

It's no secret that populations are increasingly ageing, inequality is rising and climate changing is ongoing, which will only perpetuate society's need for charitable services, yet the sector is slow on its adaptability to change; unable to keep up with the expectations of its supporters and up-to-date with evolving technologies.

John Tasker, director at Massive, says: “Working on this report, I was struck by the number and scale of the challenges facing charities, but as an optimist I took away a sense of excitement and possibility about the opportunities ahead. New technology will disrupt. Ways of giving will evolve. Competition will increase. But the desire to help and make change in the world will endure. People who work in charity are dedicated to making a difference and aren’t the kind to let the opportunities of a good crisis go to waste.”

The Future Charity report revealed that 57% of charity employees surveyed believed that a lack of embracing new technology is one of the biggest hinderences to the sector's development.

Jim Bowes, CEO and founder of Manifesto, adds: “This report has been a year and a half in the making. Spending a long time on it has allowed us to witness change during the process of creation. What we heard was that charity leaders were already fully aware of the problems but were crying out for evidence to share with their organisation, suggestions on how to challenge the status quo, and useful tools to help spark ideas and bring people together to make a difference. So that’s what we’ve aimed to do.”

The report revealed that most charitable organisations need to refresh their currently restrictive structures which are mostly more costly and administration heavy, meaning that they are business-focused and sometimes, lack accountability.

Fundraising efficiently, data management capabilities and lack of innovation around fundraising were also other concerns aired from the survey's respondents. Though most respondents recognised the beneficial role that technology could play in the charity sector, knowing that alternative payment methods, machine learning, chatbots and voice assistants would speed up processes within the charity sector.

The Future Charity report provides clear areas of focus for organisations looking to change their ways and means that they can better prepare for technological and societal change. By (re)defining purpose; building confidence; securing the right people; measuring meaningfully; collaborating actively; and looking beyond the sector, the report suggests that charities can ride out the inevitable changes that will affect the sector in the coming decade.

Kelly Southcott, transformation consultant and director at Kivo Transformation, comments: “The changes needed across the sector is bigger than any of us. However, we’ve taken the first step in demonstrating how collaboration and sharing can achieve results. If we each apply the principles in this report to ourselves as individuals and leaders, we’ll stop being part of the problem and start the journey into a more positive future.”

The full report, The Future Charity: How to drive change and innovation across the sector? is available to download from Future Charity.

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