Not-for-profits struggle with digital

05 October 2012

LONDON: Many not-for-profit organisations in the UK are failing to exploit the opportunities provided by digital media to engage consumers, research from Accenture, the consultancy, has shown.

According to a study by the firm, 76% of charities think new technologies such as social media, cloud computing and devices like smartphones and tablets will help them fulfil their missions more effectively.

Similarly, a 44% share of the sample thought the possibilities had increased when it came to collecting data, raising awareness, connecting with untapped audiences and delivering services more quickly.

A further 61% of the panel had seen efficiency gains as a result of these trends, and another 44% were now able to "do more with less", and thus fund projects at lower costs.

Brychan Watkins, CIO of Action for Children, said: "Innovations in technology make it easier for us to communicate with the public so they can learn about Action for Children in a way that suits them.

"Not every charity is in the same position we are and some aren't able to take advantage of new technologies. However, at a time when we are fighting for every penny, the IT tools we have at our disposal are even more critical."

To date, only 6% of good causes have built a mobile app, despite the rapid uptake of these tools by users of wireless gadgets.

Elsewhere, 30% of contributors had no social media plans in place, even though 44% of interviewees believed this channel would exert the greatest impact on their activity in the next five years.

Additionally, 80% of respondents were not currently implementing cloud computing programmes, while 24% expected to prioritise this area in the coming five years.

"Despite wanting to use new technologies, some charities are struggling to invest in areas that could show huge benefits," Andrew Poppleton, head of Accenture's UK and Ireland Technology group, said.

"Charities are more supportive of technology than ever before and many are working with IT companies – often on a pro bono basis – to evolve their strategies and there is still clearly work to be done."

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff