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Digital transformation

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The way voluntary sector organisations operate, collaborate with each other and listen to supporters can be transformed through the better use of digital technology.

All organisations should be looking at ways digital technology can help them to grow effectively, deliver services more effectively to beneficiaries, increase impact for social change and hopefully save money too. The completion of a Digital Transformation process may seem unobtainable for some organisations as technology is constantly evolving. However ongoing digital maturity is possible where a mind-set is present within organisations to continually review their operating processes in the light of any new technology developments and to make a conscious decision about how and when to adopt them. 

This section provides information and resources on digital transformation for your voluntary sector organisation.

The following seven tips on digital transformation were taken from The New Reality research study by Julie Dodd. For more detailed information on each of the seven points refer to the resources below, which Julie covered in an NCVO webinar.

Key tips

1. Start with the core mission

Don't start with the technology, think about the social value you're trying to deliver and then how technology might help you solve key challenges you face. Fully commit and accept the pain. This is a change management process that will affect every area of your operation. 

The Digital Maturity Matrix produced by the digital team at Breast Cancer Care enables an organisation to take a 'temperature check' or where it is and where it would like to be in it's use of digital technology. 

2. Broaden your definition of 'digital technology'

An enabling technology could be anything from a wearable device to your internal finance system. Make sure you're considering all forms of digital technology. Go cloud-based to improve efficiency, scalability and collaboration whilst making it possible for your teams to work anywhere, not just in the office.

3. Help the 'no' people

A new breed of technologists and architects are showing that it's possible to have IT infrastructure that works. Be wary of anyone who says it's too difficult. Make sure there is someone on your trustee board who really gets this, and educate those who don't.

4. Plug the skills gaps

Look inside and outside your organisation for someone for someone who can guide you. Consider appointing a fixed term Director of digital transformation. Also bring in or train up some good data people as every organisation can and should do more with their data. Accept that some people may have to retrain or leave.

Use the NCVO toolkit for reviewing and developing the digital skills of your workforce. The toolkit contains resources and templates to help you plan, design and deliver a comprehensive digital skills development programme for your organisation.

5. Keep your horizons short, and be lean

Focus on one thing at a time and work in small, iterative steps. Pick a problem and put enough effort into fixing that before moving on. If it isn't working and not core to your mission stop doing it. If it is core to your mission then making fixing it a priority.

6. Invest in structured Research & Development

Find ways to innovate. If you're not trying to disrupt the area of the sector you are working in then someone else may be. Consider setting up an in-house R&D lab, or find a partner that can help you develop future ideas.

7. Make systems modular and nimble

Don't try to find a one size fits all solution. There is a low cost (or free) tool for almost any need or problem you have. From inventive uses for social media feeds to handy ways to increase productivity. Take best in class, independent tools that talk to each other and plug them together.


It's also vital to have a robust technology plan and to make sure it's all sustainable and that your organisation can support and maintain the kit you use, not just to purchase it in the first place.


Watch the webinar

Watch a recording of the NCVO webinar, delivered by Julie Dodd (webinar took place on 20 August 2015).

View the presentation slides

Page last edited Feb 11, 2020

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