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Digital News for the Third Sector: February

PlanLab Insight Bulletin

· digital development,big data,virtual reality,chatbots,supporter engagement

Last week we went to a seminar on ‘Big data in Chinese businesses’. What has this got to do with your charity, you might ask?

The seminar presented the research findings of a recent study into the implications of big data for accountants. One of the findings that struck me most was the following:

‘Most importantly, the best companies … have a leadership team that intuitively understand the power of big data and the potential for their organisation - they simply ‘get it’.’

The importance of ‘getting it’ [digital] comes up frequently and is a core issue. What I find comforting is that the issues for charities around developing digitally are often the same as those for the with-profit sector.

The key is not to think that you will never ‘get’ it but to explore where digital can add value and how it filters down into broader organisational processes and culture.

Big data may be far removed from many charities but delivering greater value to beneficiaries and supporters is at the core of what we do and digital can be instrumental in that. However, one of the problems is that digital developments can often sound like big projects and that is uncomfortable, risky and requires us to divert scarce resources. This need not always be the case. In this edition of Digital News we are highlighting some initiatives which illustrate this:

A couple of years ago I was on Kings Cross station and was persuaded to try out a demo of virtual reality (VR). It was true to say that I was sceptical but it was a transforming experience and the potential for helping charities to make their cause live more was immediately apparent. We have noticed VR starting to become used and include here two links to recent examples:

~ The Guardian has made a film called ‘The Party’ which offers a glimpse of how a person on the autism spectrum copes with a stressful environment

~ The Institute of Fundraising reports on how Alzheime’s Research UK has used VR to show someone what it is like to have dementia and is captivating a bigger audience in the process

Recently we have been trying out a chatbot to help arrange meetings and found they really do save time. In this example Wateraid is using a chatbot to connect supporters and beneficiaries

We always enjoy helping leaders and their organisations begin to appreciate the potential of digital and believe in the value of 'small steps' as well as 'bite sized chunks' of development. If you would like a coffee or a chat on the 'phone then please get in touch touch with us.

Lastly, you may have seen that only 44% of charities are aware of the impending GDPR (General Data protection Regulation) regulation which come into force in May. If you have not yet checked these out we would encourage you to do so soon.

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