We kicked off this program with a successful pilot involving 11 nonprofits from across Canada, each on their own digital transformation journey. We also ran a successful pre-pilot with three additional charities. The contributions of these 14 organizations were critical contributors to our learn, test, and optimize approach.
INSIGHTS FROM ORGANIZATIONS LIKE YOURS
We’ve captured our key learnings from the pilot and insights from the participating organizations, and put it all in one place so you can understand our journey, and how the lessons we learned will benefit your organization, and the key features of the application.
The pilot revealed a great deal about the challenges and opportunities facing charities when it comes to leveraging digital technologies.
Not having enough time to skill up, implement technologies and sustain them through good governance practices is endemic across the charitable sector. Lack of adequate resources, of which time is often the most valuable, is a symptom of lack of funding, or specifically, program-based funding, which still tends to demand that charities only invest in “direct program expenses”.
Funders could better align their practices with the current reality facing these charities; using technology effectively in order to deliver great programming, report on it effectively and scale it when it proves to be effective are not an “overhead” costs, or administrative costs.
We observed charities that struggled with so many inefficient program-related processes resulting in less time working with beneficiaries of their work, and more time trying to update spreadsheets. The charities in the pilot emerged knowing WHAT they could do to address these struggles, but still struggling with HOW to find the time to enact those solutions.
We learned from our pilot charities that those who had leaders at the executive and board levels were more likely to be working digital transformation into their strategic plans. When leaders plan and resource the work that is to be done, outcomes are far more likely to be achieved.
While the skills gap isn’t unique to charities – they are feeling this gap more acutely. There is no shortage of training opportunities. During the pilot we put together a bank of 350+ learning resources on specific tools as well as on the more strategic and governance related skills required for digital transformation. Few organizations in the pilot accessed these resources, even where price was not a barrier.
Our pilot charities, like most charities, struggle to find the time to dedicate to learn these new skills and put them into practice.
Nonetheless, when they DID find time to invest in their technologies, they found that documenting processes and workflows was a lightbulb moment. Once they could see HOW they worked mapped out in front of them, they began to notice where there existed opportunities for improvement.
The pilot provided them with a plan for investing in their digital transformation. Where before technology decision making was ad hoc, our pilot charities all reported that they were prepared to be far more strategic in how they implement and sustain technologies.
One key area of strategic improvement is to document the skills they have in house, the roles and responsibilities related to the technologies they use, and the skills that they can afford to outsource. It can be a challenge to find the right support to implement proposed solutions for charities – but with the right mix of internal skill and awareness of the possibilities of digital technologies, mixed with occasional 3rd party support, there is no technological success that is beyond the reach of even the smallest Canadian charity.
Kathy Slotsve, YES Employment + Entrepreneurship Montreal
Skills for Change
YES Employment + Entrepreneurship
The Centre for Immigrant Settlement and Integration
Start Up Canada
Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
Pow Wow Pitch
Indigenous Perspectives Society
Thunder Woman Healing Lodge Society
The Kw’umut Lelum Foundation
We are currently running the program and have a self serve application running helping organizations like yours. Take our 5 minute assessment to see if your organization qualifies, and if it doesn’t we’ve provided the resources to make sure you can.