We live in the information age and technology is an aspect of our daily lives, but it is seemingly lacking in the charity sector. But how beneficial would technology be if implemented more in the nonprofit sector and in the field?
Many companies and organisations the world over have made significant advances thanks to technology. It’s certainly beneficial to how we all work and communicate. However, some industries are slow to react.
According to Lloyd’s Bank UK Digital Business Index 2016, almost half of the charities in the UK lack basic digital skills to promote their causes. Furthermore, the study pointed out that charities that are tech-savvy attract 30% more funding from the public.
It’s clear that in this smartphone age, nonprofits need to embrace tech in social connectivity to help organisations reach a wider audience. Innovation and experimentation with video, chatbots and mobile marketing can only increase engagement and interaction with donors to further sustain themselves.
Implementing smarter applications such as artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots could also help to overhaul the hiring application processes itself. Instead of written forms that tend to favour highly educated applicants or a small industry of consultants, AI can increase accessibility by avoiding that format, for example, through a structured interview process using speech-to-text, asking applicants to describe key aspects of their work.
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Chatbots can be programmed to ask structured interview questions about proposed projects regarding team structure, budget management, marketing and impact. The tech can improve applicants experience by providing immediate feedback.
In the bigger picture away from developed countries, technology needs be harnessed to make charitable services more effective and scalable in a field environment. Doing very just that in Syria is World Food Programme’s Building Blocks, who unpin blockchain technology to serve hungry people more effectively.
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They implement the technology integrated with retail innovations such as biometric scanning and mitigating the risk of identity fraud or data mismanagement, WFP could also ensure more people receive crucial food assistance to productively distribute rations.
Building Block’s system also provides greater security and privacy for refugees as sensitive data does not have to be shared with third parties like phone companies.
On another side of data, charities need to make efforts to use open data as their default. In the UK, the 360 Giving programme has done this for grants. In a strong coalition with the innovation foundation, Nesta, they are both committed to providing information in a clear open, machine readable form.
This is not only beneficial for gaining grants, tracking locations and timescales. It can help organisational growth by seeing how well charities and social enterprises are supported in relation to their growth over time (ideally with links into banking data and public data held by bodies like the Charity Commission), and see how funded activities relate to scales and patterns of specific needs.
Supporting the nonprofit sector to take on technology are various organisations such as CAST, who intend to accelerate the use of technology for social impact. They help and work with funders and nonprofits by building stronger tech for their good programmes. This essentially puts digital at the heart of their service delivery and drives organisational change.
A strong standing example is Lasa, established in 1984. They are a social welfare law and tech charity who provide support services. Every year, they help thousands of not-for-profit, third sector, public sector and government organisations across the UK to deliver efficient, high quality services. Continuously they’re dedicated to supporting organisations in their use of technology and the delivery of social welfare law advice to the disadvantaged communities they serve.
There’s also the N77 Society, which drives innovation and effectiveness in philanthropy to create greater good. Their recruited members are field experts in social entrepreneurship to technology and finance sectors. The members rigorously assess and implement advancing technological projects to benefit society.
Afterall, as technological advancements progress, so should charities. If both are embraced together, charities can definitely become more efficient, effective and sustainable.