It has been commented on several occasions that in 2020 NGOs have had to adapt immediately (and forcibly) to the use of digital tools. However, before the COVID-19 pandemic, they had already been talking about the need to apply Digital Transformation in NGOs. A process that undoubtedly requires a plan and some time. For this reason, we recommend to take a look at the websites recommended in the article on "Fundraising or Digital Fundraising: small and medium-sized NGOs" in which websites are specialized in planning this type of process. Here we will point out the advantages and characteristics to take into account when entering the development of digital transformation.
- Reasons and advantages
- The first reason is that 2020 has given time to meditate and consider the Digital Transformation of our NGO. In addition, there has already been an approach that has served to carry out the social initiative of the NGO. Through remote working, communication channels and digital fundraising, such as social networks, contacts through web pages, crowdfunding, email-marketing, micro-donations for the supply of medical supplies and other options.
- Taking advantage of the benefits of technology means optimizing the internal management of the entity; automating and improving programs and services for users; increasing the productivity of these programs and services; to have a greater impact on communication; expand and add more sources of income; and be a competitive entity in the social sector.
In our case, Gotongo uses technology to streamline the entire process of recruiting volunteers and also to disseminate the projects carried out by NGOs through our platform.
- Create and deepen communication channels with people (both volunteers, users, donors and partners) and other entities.
1. On the one hand, it generates a greater capacity to influence social causes: NGOs have an opportunity in Digital Transformation, since they can sensitize, raise awareness and mobilize potential followers through digital marketing campaigns. The different digital tools, such as social networks, give a voice to people who want to express their opinion and express their will for social transformation, people who are otherwise anonymous and unable to express their ideas and thoughts.
2. On the other hand, it facilitates collaboration between people and other NGOs: it reduces barriers and enables new ways to collaborate and improve services and programs aimed at social causes (collaboration between NGOs, between volunteers and NGOs, between NGOs and the Public Administration).
- All the above mentioned favors digital innovation for the most disadvantaged groups. Open innovation, integrating all people (external talents, users, participants in our projects, etc.) in the creation of new forms of service and attention. Technology gives tools to get closer to all the ideas and opinions of these people. Taking into account, of course, the need and importance of gradually reducing the existing digital gap both by territories and by generations.
- Features to keep in mind
- The culture of "try and correct''. We have to bear in mind that Digital Transformation is a process that requires testing alternatives and correcting the mistakes that have been made. This change of mentality is laborious because, normally, people feel more comfortable in the stability of what they already know and feel vertigo by the changes and risks that a transformation may entail. However, as it has been commented, it is necessary to enter this process little by little and be clear that it is normal and that if you make mistakes it is not the end of the world.
- Degree of digitization required by the entity. The large amount and complexity of technology can be an obstacle if you do not set limits or make decisions regarding the tools that are offered. It is important not to get carried away by trends or fashions and consider whether the most appropriate is a total, partial, mixed digitization, by people, by departments, etc. The first thing is to define the objectives of the entity, and then it will be studied through what means to achieve them.
- A well-implemented plan. Having a website and sending a few sporadic emails or newsletters does not mean that the entity is digitized (or at least correctly digitized). The search for the appropriate talent or training is recommended to carry out the transformation.
- Investment in Communication. Communication is an essential pillar in Digital Transformation. Implementing and creating new communication channels optimizes the benefits (discussed above) obtained from digital tools. The budgets of Digital Transformation and improvements in digital tools have to be considered as an investment and not as an expense.
- Commitment of the entire workforce. Consensus and change in the medium and long term through all kinds of training. Avoid resistance to change arising from the change in culture in the entity. Professionals must see the advantages that Digital Transformation supposes in their day to day.
* For more content and details see the bibliography.
Caralt E., Carreras I. & Sureda M. (2017): “The digital transformation in NGOs. Concepts, solutions and practical cases ”. Ramon Llull University publications, ESADE program. Retrieved from https://www.pwc.es/es/fundacion/assets/transformacion-digital-en-las-ong-pwc-esade-iis.pdf