Image credit: Jo Wolfe

With tech issues from GDPR to artificial intelligence and the regulation of social media platforms dominating the news agenda daily, 2018 will be a year when we all continue to grapple with the pace of change in digital. In the charity sector, the organisations who are using digital successfully are gaining confidence and momentum, with Lloyds Banking Group’s Business Digital Index 2017 showing that digitally mature charities are pulling ahead . Every organisation either needs to start thinking about how it must evolve in the digital age- or wait for change to be done to them, and be left behind.

So how do charity digital experts recommend that nonprofits tackle this? Change was a constant theme on our latest Third Sector Digital Leaders’ programme, which we created in partnership with The School for Social Entrepreneurs. Due to demand we’re running the programme twice in 2018 and you can apply for our fourth and fifth cohorts here .  Here are the key recommendations from the course sessions about how charities and social enterprises can lead on digital change and thrive in the process.

With many charities looking to shift more of their services online, we asked Jo Wolfe, Reason Digital’s MD for London, to run a session. Jo is a big champion of digital service delivery, having seen first hand during her time at Breast Cancer Care how this could help scale up the charity’s impact (witness their Becca app which helps women move forward after breast cancer). She shared her top 5 tips for charities.

Jo advised that the key thing every organisation must do on digital service delivery is to talk to their users and find out what they want. Everything you do should be guided by what they tell you, and the data you have about them.

One of the biggest digital changes ahead is when GDPR comes into force this May. Andrew Cross from Lightful ran a useful session on this, and has shared his top 3 tips to help you prepare.

In these rapidly changing, volatile times everyone needs to be match fit. Joe Freeman’s fantastic session on leading a digital team was a really practical overview of the skills needed and how to motivate people.

Kai Adams, Head of the Charities and Social Enterprise practice from Green Park also presented at the session and pointed out that a wide range of both technical and soft skills are needed for successful digital change.

A high performing digital team will be able to lead from the front on change. Joe talks about how you can run one successfully here.

Following the session on digital skills, Matt Collins of Platypus Digital ran the final session of the course, which was on the fundamentals of digital. These should be your bedrock. Once you have these in place, it will become a lot easier to respond to change.

The issue of what makes a good charity and digital agency relationship came up, which Matt decided to share his top tips on:

As it was the last day of the course, we then celebrated our lovely students’ graduating with prosecco and cake. I was really keen to hear what they were going to do differently when they got back to the office. Here’s what James Barker, Associate Head of Digital Engagement at NSPCC, told us:

We were lucky enough to have really good feedback from our graduates. We’re really proud of how hard they worked on the course and are super excited to see what they do next.

2018 is likely to be another year in which the pace of digital change increases. Leaders who are skilled up and confident about digital, and who are creative and resilient enough to see disruption as an opportunity are the ones who will thrive.

Apply for our 2018 Third Sector Digital Leaders Programme.