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What is ‘digital transformation’ anyway? 

14 February 2020

If you’re like me, you hate phrases like this. Buzzwords that could literally mean anything. So as senior digital officer at Mayhew, I’ve interpreted ‘digital transformation’ as improving digital platforms and online user experience, and getting more of our organisation to understand the value digital brings.

It’s important for any charity to keep in mind that there are charities that have been ‘born’ into the digital age and so naturally put digital first when planning communications, fundraising and even service delivery. Not having a ‘digital-first’ mindset therefore puts you and your organisation at risk of losing out to these digi-focused teams.

I started the digital journey with Mayhew in 2018 with the launch of our new website. From there, we mapped out what digital transformation would look like for us. Here’s how we took ‘digital transformation’ from confusing buzzword to tangible strategy.

Where to start your digital journey? 

We couldn’t decide where to go without understanding where we were as an organisation. Before we did any future planning, we looked at how our digital channels were currently supporting our organisational goals, what our peers were doing, and how our digital content had been performing. This gave us great insight into what was working and what wasn’t – the perfect jumping off point for making improvements. To support this work, we also used two tools – the Digital Maturity Matrix and a good old-fashioned SWOT analysis.

We learnt that we have strength in including digital at the start of all communications campaigns and the wider Mayhew team respect skills of digital experts within Marketing and Communications. Areas that could be improved were the use of audience insight and data for organisational goals, the use of digital tools for beneficiaries, and consolidation of internal digital tools. We also saw opportunities for innovation and reporting to be more central to our decision-making and day to day operations.

Where do you want to be? 

Now comes the exciting stage – thinking about what could be and what digital can do for your charity. How can you use digital to reach more service users, and get your supporters engaging and donating more? We created seven KPIs for digital that would support different areas of our charity’s work and then used these to brainstorm digital projects for each area. We took these project ideas and built out a Transformation Map that would guide us over the next few years.

Increasing donations by 13% 

For example, one of our seven KPIs is simply to “encourage donations and keep supporters engaged with our work”. So improving the website donation experience for our donors was the first big digital project from this new strategy and digital roadmap.

Previously, our online donations consisted of multiple single-page forms with lots of steps and clicking for the user. As part of this project, we worked with our external digital agency, adaptable, to create a simple, multi-step bespoke donation journey with an improved user interface. We wanted to make it as easy to give as possible.

As the backend of our site is powered by WordPress and donations are processed by Gravity Forms, a challenge for adaptable was finding a way to create a completely bespoke donations funnel with dynamic elements and page splitting, without altering the way donations are handled internally by our fundraising team.

The new product 

Everything our new form does, it does without reloading the page. No waiting around staring at a screen, no filling in the same details twice if something isn’t quite right – it will give feedback as the user is acting, using modern industry-standard tools to achieve this.

The main addition to the journey is an upsell component, allowing us to present options to our donors such as an additional ‘treat a pet for £3’. Donors now also have the option to cover the fees set by the payment processor (e.g £0.26) in order for us to receive the full intended donation.

Also, adaptable drew more focus to gift aid in the journey, better communicating to our donors how we will benefit by opting in, and added a few feel-good touches such as a confetti animation once your donation is complete.

The results 

In the first month of going live, 35% of donations included at least one of the ‘treat a pet for £3’ upsells, with some donors adding several of these, adding up to more than their initial donation!

We have also seen 48% of donors choosing to cover the payment processing fee, which will add up and save financial costs long term. So far, the upsell updates have increased total donation value by 13.94%.

Where do we go next? 

Now the ball is officially rolling, we’ve got three years’ worth of digital projects (big and small) to get working on. This year, we are focusing on upskilling our senior team to get them to further understand the value of digital and have put in some new content management tools to help our digital team curate the best channels that we can. This is just the beginning of our digital journey, but we have already learnt so much.

Tips for starting your digital journey: 

  • Understand your channels and do more of what performs well 
  • Get buy in from senior level – get a digital leader in place at senior level and upskill your senior team with their support. If you get can a digital trustee on your board – even better! You can read more about taking people on your journey here or how to sell the transformation to senior managers here.
  • Map your journey with a Transformation Map – the visual guide will help you get other departments on board.
  • Do it for service users and supporters – make your transformation about helping these people, rather than your organisation. By putting these people at the core of your digital journey, you can make sure each project really adds value for them and will help your organisation achieve operational goals.

Digital transformation doesn’t have to be just a buzzword to throw around in meetings. You can take it, define it your own way and make it work for you and your organisation.

Georgie Wishart

content creator and director, Plant Based Digital

Georgie creates specialist visual and written content for charities and sustainable organisations. With experience in both corporate and non-profit sectors, she set up Plant Based Digital to share her skills and knowledge with as many good causes as possible. She loves creating innovative digital content and supporting charities to put strategies in place to maximise that content.