Digital self-sufficiency is the future for charities

In the first of a series on digital effectiveness, Ringo Moss discusses how charities must face the challenges ahead

Ringo Moss
Ringo Moss

Most charities are on a mission to work themselves out of a job. They exist to combat a disease, for example, or to eradicate climate change. Once that has been achieved they hope there will no longer be a need for them to exist: just last month it was reported that the closure of charity Disaster Action – that helped the survivors and bereaved people affected by disasters in the UK and abroad – was a mark of the charity’s success, not failure.

To achieve change on this scale charities need to be visible and efficient, and they need to take people with them. Developments in digital technology are having a scalable impact on how charities step up to these challenges – from how they deliver frontline services to internal decisions over team structure. But just as achieving social change takes time, so too does the digital transformation of an entire sector.

To effectively support charities on this journey I think the digital sector can learn a thing or two about how these organisations approach large-scale change. Ultimately we are here to help charities to eventually help themselves and become self-sufficient – just as charities are doing for people and communities across the world. Adopting this mind-set has definitely had an impact on how our team at Positive works with our clients on digital.

For us it’s about providing long-term solutions that can be re-used and replicated for multiple purposes. This is one of many reasons we’re huge fans of using open source, because it allows us to develop new technology that will benefit more people than just those organisations we’re working with directly.

This fundraising campaign we worked on with The Children’s Society is one example of how we’re practising what we preach. Another is the parallax we built for their Old enough to know better report, published in November last year. We built the report within the charity’s open source CMS and integrated it with all of their current systems. This allows The Children’s Society to create engaging and powerful reports internally, without relying on expensive and limiting propriety software or agency support – making them self-sufficient.

Of course, the journey doesn’t end there. Digital and social challenges are constantly developing and we will continue to listen and adapt our approach. That’s why we’re supporting the launch of Third Sector’s digital stream, and why we’ll be continuing to explore these issues and more in our new Effective Digital series. We hope you find these articles useful and insightful and we look forward to hearing your comments.

Ringo Moss is creative strategist at Positive, a digital agency that specialises in charity and not-for-profit

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