TECH TALK: BILL MAGEE says third sector organisations should adopt technology that will help combat the financial squeeze
Three-out-of-four charities are calling it a day, citing a severe funding shortage and day-to-day running costs as the most pressing issues. Smart tech-based solutions are urgently needed to rescue the third sector before more go under. A Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations social indicator indicates no one is immune.
Small community groups to big household names are being forced to wind up their operations. Scotland has more than 25,000 charities and the perilous situation affecting their future has worsened since the COVID pandemic.
In August 2020, research by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator warned one-in-five could disappear within 12 months. Of 800 charities set up in Scotland during the last year, 600 have already dissolved. Hence the SCVO digital rescue appeal.
However, when it comes to helping non-profit organisations harness the potential of technology, where to start?
The global pandemic and now worsening cost-of-living pressures have catalysed huge digital changes within some third sector organisations.
Those grasping digital’s potential have been able to change rapidly. However, many others have only evolved gradually and been caught out. COVID is described by the SCVO as a “forced experiment” in terms of digitisation.
Now it’s a case of bidding for a digital future in the longer term. The current economic crisis means that providing good quality services, and being able to adapt quickly, is essential.
The trouble is it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the array of tech. Each one endlessly hyped as the next big thing to instantaneously transform an organisation.
Take CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, just staged on the Las Vegas strip. With its endlessly ostentatious displays of innovation and winding corridors full of gadgets. One visit is more than enough.
The 2023 show involved everything connected to a virtual/avatar world here and an augmented reality playground there. As we’re all urged to inch towards the “metaverse”.
Billions of research and development cash is currently being spent on such nascent immersive, interactive tech. Apple CEO Tim Cook describes it as “a profound technology that will affect everything”.But how does this help a not-for-profit organisation, suffering a profound disconnection and hanging on from one day to the next?
Not a jot.
What is urgently required in the real world is hands-on digital support.
Five years ago, Microsoft launched its “Tech for Social Impact” (TSI) division with the goal to help not-for-profit organisations. It’s now updated its solution with a cloud-first program.
By leveraging the technology’s power, a voluntary body can accelerate its digital transformation to become more productive, innovative and ultimately drive greater societal impact.
However, TSI harnessing of cloud-based tools and technologies, in isolation, is not enough.
It has to be synchronised with a connectivity exercise that leaves no one out. Donors and volunteers should be brought together, employees empowered and operations optimised in a secure and compliant manner.
The software giant provides donations and discounts to third sector organisations for accessible, affordable and relevant solutions including Microsoft 365, Office 365, Power BI and Azure.
They can gain a licensing model review, free of charge. Also, get a free e-book “10 Non-Profit Technology Myths Debunked” based on clearing up the most common misconceptions about moving to the cloud.
Bottom line? A voluntary organisation should not hesitate to seek help in accelerating their digital rescue package and give themselves a better chance of outlasting such a prolonged financial squeeze.