How the internet can help charities do more for less

Most charities are finding themselves in
the unenviable position of being asked to deliver more for less as a
consequence of the vulnerable government finances and a decline in donations.

I believe that the innovative use of
technology could prove to be the sector’s saviour in these austere times.

This has certainly been the experience of
CCCS as it costs us only £5.99 to help someone through our e-counselling tool
Debt Remedy, which we introduced in 2007, compared to £144 for face-to-face
advice and £56 over the telephone.

These are significant savings, and instead
of detracting from our other forms of counselling, the savings made through
online counselling free up resources which we have been able to put into our
telephone counselling instead.

While face-to-face and telephone services
certainly have their place – and if you ask someone if they prefer face-to-face
or telephone advice the answer will often be yes – online innovations in service
delivery are often popular once introduced. They also offer people more choice
in how they seek help and can be made without impacting on quality.

This was highlighted in Survive and Thrive,
the recent report by Race Online 2012 which outlined how some charities are
seizing the opportunities technology provides such as the NSPCC’s new online
service
, which has already received more than 100,000 enquiries. This innovative use of technology allows the NSPCC not only to free up its resources, but also to reach many more children and young people who may not be comfortable
speaking to an advisor.

So, with all of the obvious benefits of
online service delivery, it is surprising that the report also found that many
charities are suffering because they have failed to embrace digital
communications as enthusiastically as they should. It argues that those who
don’t put technology at the heart of their organisation are failing to maximise
their resources, raise money, communicate more powerfully and to a wider
audience, and deliver services to end users more efficiently.

The world of‘more for less means
charities have to embrace technology; good use of technology offers them new
routes into funding and the ability to reach more people, and – as the report
says -  “ultimately, you can improve more lives.”

Delroy Corinaldi, external affairs director, Consumer Credit
Counselling Service

  • Nick Torday

    A timely piece which resonates with a blog I published last week on our contributory community for digital practitioners in the third sector, Because it’s Good (www.becauseitsgood.org).

    I would only add counsel that the opportunity for digital innovation needs to be built on robust evidence platforms, rather than being seen solely as a way to create efficiencies. Read more at:

    http://bit.ly/k9Upoz

  • Pete Stevens

    Delroy

    Interesting to see these stats. That is some impressive savings. SOCITM’s benchmarking stats for the Public Sector show similar efficiencies can be made by serving customers online.

    Face-to-face: £9.34
    Phone: £3.76
    Web: £0.27

    Clearly channel shifting is not appropriate for all services, but for information finding or providing basic transactional services, this can easily be implemented. We have been helping our clients do this for a long-time now, and as more clients saw the benefits, we created a formal structure to offer businesses a defined method of reducing costs in the face of major budget cuts.

    http://bit.ly/l41YPq

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