Paul Jones, from Intercity Technology, helped The Salvation Army to take its retail arm into the future, by showing them how technology is changing the face of the charity sector.
How are we changing the way businesses work in the charity sector?
At the heart of all charities is the end user: the help and support given to these people is part of every decision that is made.
Putting people at the heart of technology and creating a living example of “People-first Technology” resonates perfectly within this sector.
Technology has enabled control, efficiency and often savings for charities allowing them to get on with what they do best by supporting people in the community.
For the Salvation Army, the ability to monitor the tills in every store and confirm money raised through an MPLS network greatly benefits the planning and ultimately the revenues generated to help them towards their goals
This coupled with the Wi-Fi within the superstores and the contact centre utilising the Touch Technology platform ensures that every penny raised is collected and recorded to ultimately fund the activities of the Salvation Army.
How ‘digitally mature’ do you think the charity sector is?
The charity sector, due to several pressures, has always been keen to “cling on” to existing technology to ensure a great return on investment. However, over the last few years, a shift has occurred where charities are now placing technology at the forefront of their business strategy.
They have seen the benefits this can have directly upon their end users, with Wi-Fi, digital signage and a very strong online presence, the charity sector is not only catching up but is beginning to lead through innovation with technology in the marketplace.
How does technology transform the way charities raise money?
In this age of being “always connected”, social media and the ability to capture data, relates not only to increasing ways people can donate, but also allows greater donations through enabling Gift Aid at the same time.
According to Blackbaud’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report, a mere 7.2% of all individual donations in the UK were made on-line. Of those on-line donations, however, 17% were made using mobile devices – a jump of 8% since 2014. This implies that such usage will grow in importance.
Furthermore, contact centres now using unified communications ensure all potential donors are able to speak with the right person at the right time, and the use of connected PDQs further ensures that every penny is recorded and collected at the point of sale through all the shops.
Digital technology can boost the impact of charities, but getting started is a challenge, what tips can you give them?
Primarily, charities are focused on the work they do and are often measured by the success of various projects and the level of donations they have, having a Technology partner to help not only set up the backbone of their IT infrastructure but to also help manage the solutions is the first step.
Many IT teams in the charity sector must wear many hats and have relatively small IT teams when compared to companies in the business sectors. Selecting a technology partner to manage and maintain infrastructure as well as work as a consultant, sharing best practice is the most important step on this journey.