HOW TO GET YOUR CHARITY READY FOR DIGITAL CHANGE.
Welcome to the first in a series of six guides from the team at Creative on ‘how to get your charity ready for digital change’. Look out for the second in the series next month in which we look at the importance of IT Strategy for your charity. Join the conversation on Facebook or LinkedIn.
IS IT TIME TO CENTRALISE YOUR DATA?
In the age of the omnipresent cloud, centralised data systems just make sense – and yet an Experian study found that 66% of charities ‘lack a coherent, centralised approach to data’. Many charities are still operating their HR, Finance, Fundraising, Donations and Programmes on disparate data systems – meaning they’re missing out on all the convenience and potential benefits of one, centralised system. If you’re interested in making the switch – or just want to know more – have a read through our guide to why data centralisation is so important, how it can benefit your charity or not-for-profit and where you can begin.
Why centralise data?
Overhauling your charity’s systems can feel like a big step, so it makes sense that you want to know that it’s worth it. Centralised data has a number of benefits that we’ll get to in a second, but it also, perhaps more importantly, can help you avoid big problems that might otherwise cause a real headache down the line.
One important example is data protection and the recently tightened GDPR regulations. If your customer data exists in multiple different places, it makes it much harder to control, regulate and – where necessary – delete, such as if a customer should want to act on their right to be forgotten. It also makes it difficult to fulfil a customer’s request to see all the data you hold on them. When it comes to governance, risk and compliance (“GRC”), having all your data in one place makes your job a lot easier and can also help protect you and your charity if standard procedures are ever called into question.
Another common problem with running separate data systems is the unnecessarily high total cost of ownership. Even accounting for the upfront costs of implementing a new system, you can save your charity valuable time and money by moving towards a centralised system. There’s no need for duplicated data entry and reporting is quicker and easier – particularly when you want to see the big picture for your charity.
And the aforementioned benefits? Well, aside from avoiding all of the above, a centralised data system offers you the opportunity to create a more agile and connected way of working. Individual steps become one fluid journey, and your donors will benefit from the knock-on effect. For example, a customer donating via your charity’s digital platforms expects to know not just whether payment has been taken, but what percentage of their donation is going to the cause, details of the projects and regular updates. They are expecting a truly personalised and immersive digital experience. To give your donors what they want in the way they need to receive requires as a first step data that is centralised.
Why is centralisation especially important for charities?
There is, of course, the cost benefit in terms of both time and labour, which is especially important to charities. We helped British charity Variety get set up with a centralised system, and they reported that, “the key benefit organisation-wide is that we are now working with a single data source, which means people do not rely as heavily on other teams to provide data. They can look it up for themselves. It saves us time by cutting down on a lot of back-and-forth between departments and simplifies communication. One no longer has to translate information fetched from ‘System 1’ into something that would make sense to a ‘System 2’ user.”
Another important area to consider is data protection. GRC is important for businesses, but especially so for charities, where regulations are strict, accountability is everything and the goodwill of the client is vital. In 2017, the Information Commissioner’s Office fined 11 charities for data protection breaches. A centralised data system helps improve visibility and internal monitoring and means that both regulatory bodies and donors who want to know more about the use of their donation can get more accurate information more easily. For example, Variety’s fundraising team have “significantly benefited, notably with the imports and with better/faster visibility over their income…including the easy monitoring of potential gift aid.”
A centralised data system can also help you protect your system from cyber-attacks – another crucial issue for charities. Did you know that the average UK charity faces 5 cyber-attacks per year, with 80% of charities having been attacked between four and ten times in 2017?
Why not centralise people?
Once upon a time, the obvious answer to centralising your Charity was having all your staff in one place. But the way we work is changing, and 9-5 attendance in a brick-and-mortar office is fast becoming a thing of the past. More and more charities are moving towards flexible working (a style of working found to boost productivity), and making the most of the available technology such as smartphones, laptops and online collaboration tools. Not only does it mean more productivity and less desk space is required, it also helps to keep your Charity attractive to employees who expect to be judged on the results they’ve achieved rather than where they’ve achieved them.
Where to start?
Decided it’s time to make the move to centralisation? Great – but there are still plenty more decisions to be made. There are a number of options when it comes to centralisation: you could move to a cloud-based system; you could consider virtualisation; or even start with the growing trend dubbed Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). If you want guidance in exploring the different options or are already ready to get set up, get in touch with our team or call us on 01628 660600 and we will be happy to help.
Creative can organise your financial world so you are free to change the world!
At Creative, we know it’s hard to manage your finances, events, fundraising and donations, which is why we’ve created Just-DONATE, an affordable all-in-one solution for Charities. With nearly 30 years of experience we know you, your processes, and we know how to help. Discover Just-DONATE here. Or get in touch to book a demo to see Just-DONATE in action. Matt Ash our sales manager and founder of his own not-for profit ‘Pop Goes The Chior’ is available to discuss how we can help with the digital transformation of your finance and fundraising. Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.