Connecting your Charity to the future

October 15, 2014 Claranet Limited

This blog is used with kind permission from Sift Digital, a digital partner of Claranet's. The original blog can be found here.

I recently spoke at Claranet’s ‘Connecting your charity to the future’ seminar, hosted on floor 35 of the Shard. Nice views and a great venue for some stimulating debate around the future of digital in the not-for-profit sector.

The context for my talk was all around digital governance, which I find myself speaking about and working on most of the time these days. It’s a fascinating area, agnostic of the sector you work in. All businesses are - to greater or lesser degrees - struggling to adapt to the new digital paradigm.

The audience were an interesting blend of IT, communications and marketing professionals from a wide range of organisations. This seemed like a good starting point as one of the familiar challenges we deal with frequently is the distance and tension that often exists between IT and communications functions. This opening gambit certainly drew a telling response from the crowd, who were keen to all work more closely together but were hindered by legacy systems, processes and lack of cohesive, integrated planning.

Since we had a lot of technology procurement people in the room, it also seemed sensible to highlight a particular bugbear of mine: the huge disparity between the investment in digital products, one that is often considerable, but not matched by an equivalent investment in people with the skillset to deliver digital communications effectively to the given audience.

This opened out into a wider discussion as to how to evaluate skills and capacity within any given organisation and then make evidence-led strategic decisions about training requirement and prioritisation of workload across the business. This is the big elephant in the room right now; as traditional marketing activity loses traction and becomes increasingly irrelevant in a multi-channel consumer context, who is brave enough to reallocate budgets and reshape job roles to aim for the future?


It struck me that the people we needed in the room, were not only the specialists themselves, but also those that needed influencing, i.e. the CEO’s and HR directors. A constructive, well facilitated debate with the digital ‘front-line’ and their corresponding senior management would make for an excellent event. Whether they would agree to attend is another matter!

My talk was followed by an excellent slot from Adam Fisher, who heads up IT for our client, Sue Ryder. He spoke eloquently about the challenges of the modern CIO - a lot of his talk resonated strongly with themes established in mine. Primarily, the lack of proper strategic planning along the fault line that exists between technology and marketing, and the huge inefficiencies and missed opportunities that stem from this.

We wrapped the day up with a lively panel discussion followed by lunch and networking. Thanks to Claranet (our dedicated cloud infrastructure partner) for organising a quality event. If you are interested in me speaking about the challenge of digital governance at your event, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Connecting Your Charity to the Future
Connecting Your Charity to the Future

On Friday 26th September Claranet held the first in a series of events exploring the future of charity IT.