We hate to keep mentioning it, but the pandemic…for all, a nightmare none of us want to relive; it did catapult a lot of charities into more focused digital thinking.

From setting up online donations, managing communications through social media, and continuing to provide services while working from home, digital helped us navigate a new way of operating.

Now, for many small charities, not only is there no going back, but the demand to be more digital has increased.

However, what does going digital actually mean? How can we reduce the digital skills gap that we know exists between small and large charities? And how can we ensure digital has a positive impact, helping to increase fundraising efforts, improve service delivery and build greater trust and transparency?

Below, with the help of Bobi Robson from BeMoreDigital, we look at ways digital can be implemented and the impact this can have.

Digital fear is real

In our ChariTea session with Bobi, she hit the nail on the head when she commented that many small charities hear the word “digital” and panic.


Because we know we need to “do” digital, but there is a fear surrounding how much it’s going to cost, how you will implement it into processes and procedures, what “digital” you actually need (you have no digital strategy), and do you and your teams have the right skills to manage these digital changes?

However, digital doesn’t have to be huge or indeed costly. Small digital interventions can make a world of difference to productivity, resource, and performance.

For example, could you get the same results (and save considerable time) by conducting a poll instead of organising a meeting to ask a question?

You need to identify what you actually need and what you will get out of it, i.e., will it make your life easier and everyday operations more effective?

Once we narrow our focus to problem areas and recognise that everyone has a role to play in making positive digital changes, digital no longer has to be feared but instead strategically planned for.

Benefits of going digital 

You can deliver more services online

Digital has opened up more avenues for small charities to connect and engage with their users and expand their reach. From regular blog posts and guides offering advice and support to providing cashless and contactless donations online (a lifeline for many small charities), digital has opened up a world of possibilities.

In addition, one-to-one support can also be done online, like running meetings through Teams or Zoom. Freeing up resources and also streamlining your time and effectiveness.

Teams have more flexibility

We know that recruitment is a big challenge for charities (in fact, we have a post covering this very topic). To help, introducing small digital changes can allow you to become more flexible in your working practices and support remote or hybrid working.

Now, staff members and volunteers have much more flexibility and freedom, which can make job roles more attractive – helping to provide a small solution to the recruitment problem.

Reduce time spent on admin tasks

Isn’t that music to every small charity manager’s ears…the ability to have more time without being bogged down in paperwork?

With the right digital solutions, you can achieve just that: additional time and increased productivity.

Digital can help teams to become more agile in terms of where they spend their time AND provide greater transparency across processes, allowing you to achieve more and provide high-quality services efficiently and effectively.

Support your day-to-day operations

As digital takes over the regular, every day, paperwork-heavy tasks, you now have resources to support additional day-to-day activities and enhance your marketing and communications strategy, focusing on attracting, promoting, and improving your service offer.

Minimises manual error

A significant benefit of introducing digital into the business is how much it can reduce human error—avoiding inputting data incorrectly, missing certain points, or critical data because you’re spinning many plates.

Instead, with the right digital solution, you can receive detailed insights and analysis, up-to-date accounts whenever you view your records, invoices and people are paid on time, every time, and more, all of which build trust, show transparency, and inform clearer decision-making supporting you and your Trustees.

Increased collaboration

Digital works best when it collaborates and integrates with other systems, information, and detail. Through this increased collaboration, you can find further opportunities that strengthen your charity and support your overall aims and mission.

These opportunities lead to better, more efficient services, growth, and sustainable success.

How can you achieve all of this on a shoestring?

Invest wisely and get help (remember we mentioned Bobi and the team at BeMoreDigital).

Don’t implement digital because everyone else is doing it. Implement it because it is the right solution for you. A solution that allows digital to connect you with your overall mission now and in the future.

Remember, it’s not always about introducing big digital changes and infrastructures; small changes and ongoing changes and implementation could be key.

For example, look at available apps that could support your services. For example, an accountancy app like QuickBooks can help to improve your accountancy processes and function. In this instance, you can speed up and simplify everyday accounting admin tasks as well as use it to produce detailed data and information for reporting purposes.

Automation is also a great way to reduce time-consuming processes, streamline workflows, and simplify specific tasks. Tasks such as payroll. If this happens at the same time every month, why not set up an automation to take care of this for you?

Need to run training sessions or onboard new volunteers but feel like you don’t have the time? Why not cut down your onboarding meetings with the use of Loom? Loom allows you to record yourself and your screen to provide detailed and visual training material that people can refer to whenever needed. 

Are you working on a report with others and now have so many different versions you’re not sure which one is the latest? With several people feeding into annual and monthly reports for your Trustees, why not look at a digital solution such as Google Drive? This is free for charities and means that everyone is working from the same document, you can see any changes made, and there is only one version. You can even change permissions to who can edit, view, or make suggestions—reducing the number of confusing emails and version controls getting out of control!

Check out the discounts. Many charities can access discounted or donated tech, and it’s always worth researching and finding out what is available and if you’re eligible. For example, the Exchange Programme run by Charity Digital is a great resource for charities.

With all of these digital solutions, we advise testing and testing again. It’s the only way to know if the solution will work for you. Change takes time to accept, and sometimes, not every digital solution is suitable for everyone.

Impact of going digital for small charities

Digital should never take more time away from you and your teams; it should be implemented to make things easier, increase productivity and reduce workloads.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. However, you do need a digital strategy that focuses on continuous improvement because digital doesn’t stand still, and to keep digital sustainable, you must keep investing and reinvesting.

Strategically implementing the right digital processes can positively impact workflow and workloads, and to help you with the implementation of these digital programmes, companies like BeMoreDigital and ourselves at Beyond Profit are always on hand to help.

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