Human beings are programmed to resist change, to see anything new or different as a potential threat. The introduction of the mechanised loom, the printing press, and the motor car all faced enormous resistance. But in a rapidly transforming world, charities must adopt new technologies to stay in business.
The Tech Trust’s 2018 Charity Digital Survey shows that 92% of charities with a digital strategy expect to increase their impact as a result. At a time when many charities face uncertainty around funding, it’s hard to disagree with American composer and philosopher John Cage who said, “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”
Challenge of adoption
It’s easy to get used to an old system and overlook the time wasted on working around bugs and glitches. Or get so caught up in the day to day work that you fail to notice that things could be improved. Another common barrier to the introduction of new technology is an attitude of ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’. We see this a lot, and research from The Workforce Institute at Kronos shows that 42% of workers feel they are prevented from embracing new technology at work by colleagues who have been at the company for a long time.
If your team is resistant to change, you’re not alone. It’s not surprising when most of us have suffered the consequences of a poor technology roll-out at some point in our lives. But everyone needs the right resources to do their job well and at its worst, poor technology can affect mental wellbeing at work. If people don’t feel their organisation is willing to invest in them, they become demoralised and disengaged.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Technology can be a significant enabler for wider change and improvement, but with any transformation project, you need to get your people on board from the start. It has been shown time and time again that even the most expensive hardware or software solutions are useless if people don’t use them. Make sure you talk to every team in your charity to gather insights into how people use technology. Find out their frustrations and where they see the real benefits.
Involving people in the early stages is vital for engagement and it’s just as important to keep your team regularly updated. Research shows that one out of five projects is unsuccessful due to ineffective communications.
Technology isn’t just part of your charity’s infrastructure, being innovative and improving your systems is a powerful marketing message for external stakeholders. Make sure you take every opportunity to demonstrate that you are investing wisely in technology to enhance accountability, transparency, fundraising, and engagement.
Charities are often fearful of digital development and feel that innovation is inaccessible to them. There are still a lot of questions to be answered about the impact that Artificial Intelligence and big data will have on the charity sector, but much of the technology that might appear futuristic and out of reach is already accessible. The potential of technology to impact your fundraising, reputation, and ability to deliver your strategic objectives is transformative. Charities that fail to adapt and harness this technology to deliver their mission are putting their organisation at risk.
For more advice and information on developing your charity’s tech strategy, including advice on harnessing technology to deliver your mission, download our White Paper: Does your charity have a tech strategy?