Four ways technology will boost efficiencies for charities

Patrick NashPatrick Nash is CEO of Connect Assist, a social business that provides helplines and digital services in the charity sector.

For many charities, advice and support is a core part of what they do. They provide a sounding board, a helping hand…

Charities exist to help those in need, whether they’re seeking help after the loss of a loved one or desperately seeking entitlements to financial support. When people are up against the toughest life challenges, the third sector can support them, putting them back on the road to a more hopeful future.

A recent survey of more than 1,000 charity professionals in the Guardian’s voluntary sector network revealed that 85% of charities expect demand for their services to increase within the next five years, with 35% predicting a dramatic rise in demand.

With charities facing increased strains on their budgets, technology could hold the answer.

Sophisticated tech can work alongside charity staff, supporting them to care for their users in exactly the same way they would over the phone or face-to-face, making 24/7 contact possible.

My top four ways that technology can help charities

1. Empowering users

By investing in your digital offering, and promoting it as the ‘first call’ for users, charities empower users to access support and essential information online, whenever is best for them.

Many people in challenging circumstances find making a telephone call or going to a charity’s office a difficult thing to do, even if they really need that charity’s support. The emotional investment is high. Contacting a charity by using web-chat, email or online is often an easier way to request support

That way, users seeking information and advice quickly can ‘self help’ online 24 hours a day. This will then free up telephone operators to focus their attention on those most in need of services, who may require more personal help and support.

2. Faster responses

With increasing numbers of enquiries filling your operatives’ inboxes, advanced customer relationship management (CRM) software can intuitively reply to users, automatically routing them to a digital response, such as an online assessment, further information or links to relevant knowledge-bases.

With this approach, users receive information directly related to their enquiry almost instantaneously without having to wait until a busy operative becomes free.

3. Data capture and analytics

Branded software – which is tailored to look and feel exactly the same as your current website – allows you to create easy-to-complete online forms, tailored to capture whatever information you may need on potential supporters and donors. These can then be used to suggest avenues of support for users or to trigger automated marketing campaigns to attract more donations.

4. App-eal

For optimum benefit, all services should be accessible to people wherever they are. Given that over half of all web browsing is done on mobile devices, you will be missing out if you don’t tailor your support to such devices.

Software is available that can create an exceptional mobile web experience solution regardless of device or browser. This helps charities to deliver relevant, consistent answers, ensuring user satisfaction – and loyalty – by providing support wherever and whenever people need it.

Final thoughts

With demand for services increasing and donations falling, charities need to be ‘spending smart’. Investment in technology represents an upfront capital cost, but it is an investment that can help you meet increasing demands, while boosting efficiency and improving user satisfaction. For charities concerned with providing quality services, it’s an investment that I believe you cannot afford not to make.

What’s your experience?

If you’ve already started investing, how’s it going so far? If you’re still in the analysis or planning stages, how do you think technology could help you to meet demand?

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