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Who cares if you have a digital strategy?

18 November 2016

I’m not a head of digital within a charity, so I don’t want to be too flippant about this. But asking whether anyone should care if you have a digital strategy or not is a good question. 

Does your CEO? Well, I guess they may think that a digital strategy is what they’re paying you for. Your trustees? There’s a chance that someone has told them it’s a tick-in-the-box they need to have. Your current or prospective employees? Maybe some of them are going to want reassurance that your organisation is not stuck in the dark ages.  So yes, there are some people who may care. And they all have their reasons.

But what if they are misguided? This question struck me when listening to the discussion at the last CharityComms digital conference. The conference agenda was packed with practical and honest case studies from organisations ranging from Citizens Advice to the NSPCC. It was clear those who are actually responsible for digital delivery are far less concerned about formal strategies and are much more interested in doing and experimenting. 

Thankfully, a growing number of CEOs and boards are starting to get this too. In fact, one of my favourite quotes on this subject comes from Kay Boycott, CEO of Asthma UK, who says we’ll soon think of having a digital strategy as being about as ridiculous as having an electricity strategy. Her point is that ‘going digital’ is not something you need to have a strategy for. Digital is something that just ‘is’: it’s essential to what you do every day by default.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that in our latest Eduserv report, we’ve also picked up on this growing realisation to focus on how people are delivering with digital. One of the key things we’ve been told repeatedly is that people want to hear much more about practical examples and best practice. What they want to move away from is theory and expensively-developed digital strategies that almost always go rapidly out of date. 

The focus of the report is therefore on the result seen by charities like Marie Curie and Royal British Legion when they make the most of solutions in key areas like data, cloud and business process apps. Wherever possible, we focus on how these solutions improve the lives of the beneficiaries they provide services for. 

And really, isn’t that how it should be? Because at the end of the day, you can be 100% sure that the people your charity serves are the ones that definitely don’t care if you have a digital strategy. They just want stuff that works. 

John Simcock

charities director, Eduserv

John is business development director - charities and third sector at Eduserv, a not-for-profit provider of IT services. He helps some of the leading UK charities in planning and executing digital and IT initiatives.