How to be a Brilliant Digital Leader when Budgets are Tight by Zoe Amar

November 25, 2019 Louise Sparks

Zoe Amar, founder of Zoe Amar Digital, spoke at bbcon UK 2019, the UK's Premier Tech Gathering for Social Good. Here are her top tips for introducing a digital strategy to your organisation, even when there isn't a budget for it. You can read her thoughts and those of 5 other experts on UK philanthropy in Highlights from bbcon 2019: Shaping the Ecosystem of Good.

Being a digital leader means helping your charity innovate and drive change. But it doesn’t mean investing huge amounts in artificial intelligence or chasing after every shiny new tech development. Quite simply, it’s just modern leadership. It’s knowing where your charity is going and how to get there. And the secret to doing it well is something that money can’t buy: taking the time to do the thinking, ask your charity the tough questions and developing an ambitious but achievable strategy.
These are uncertain, challenging times. Whether we work for charities who are lucky enough to have sizeable budgets, or whether we have less to play with, we all need to look at what we can do with what we have and the resources that are already out there.
Here’s what you can do to help your charity take digital leaps forward even if money is tight.

  1. Get inspired. In an ideal world your charity would have resources to look at all the political, social and economic developments in the world around it and run a full horizon scanning exercise, understanding what’s likely to change your charity’s future. Fortunately, there are great free resources out there to draw on. The RNLI are currently looking into how they can innovate and fundraise more effectively, and they’ve opened up their insights to the sector. From the decline of cash to microdonations there is something here to get us all thinking, and to challenge and inform charity leaders about disruption. Find out more about the RNLI’s project. You could also take a look at The Charity Digital Code of Practice, a free resource to help charity leaders understand the art of the possible in digital.
  2. Get the right governance in place. I know that governance isn’t a sexy subject and there will be people who consider it dry compared to developing new digital fundraising products. But in my experience if innovation is to fly it needs a stable launchpad. Michelle Hill, CEO of Manchester based wellbeing and relationship charity TLC: Talk, Listen, Change has created a digital taskforce in her organisation and put careful thought into how to troubleshoot problems as well as getting her board and staff on the same page with her digital strategy. Find out how Michelle and her team did this.
  3. Get pro bono help. Few charities will have unlimited budgets to bring in agencies. The right project can however be a great fit for professionals from other sectors who want to make a difference. Data is the engine which drives charity fundraising and so many charities could do more with the data that they have. Datakind UK are an amazing small charity who help charities get bro bono support on data projects. Contact them here.

Even with limited resources, there are still some opportunities for digital change. Charity leaders will need to develop the vision that brings them all together. How could you support your CEO in doing this?

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