What trustees need to know about digital transformation

At this year’s NCVO Trustee Conference one of the sessions focused in on what trustees need to know about digital transformation, and their role in leading the change.

‘Digital’ is service transformation

Kicking off the session, Megan Griffith Gray, head of digital and communications at NCVO, rightly positioned digital as separate to ‘comms’ and closer to service transformation. This was backed up by Patrick Nash, CEO at Connect Assist, who talked us through his experience of engaging senior teams and trustees in the process of transforming their information services with the help of digital.

Patrick’s examples highlighted that what we’re really talking about is enabling ‘more people to do more things with less money’, with the support of technology. In examples shared, he showed that the ability to deliver services 70% – 80% cheaper is a genuine possibility.

He challenged the audience of trustees to be open minded and led by service users’ needs as opposed to historical performance. He recommended asking the question ‘what intervention could we have done two years ago that would have changed the results today?’

Your digital strategy is important

Next up was Kay Boycott, CEO at Asthma UK, she told the story of engaging her board in the need for change.

This image of crowds awaiting the news of the new Pope in both 2005 and 2013 illustrates the proliferation of mobile devices and was a turning point for Kay in engaging her trustees. Being able to demonstrate the mobile penetration amongst lower income audiences was also key, as this speaks directly to the purpose of many charities.

Kay’s top tips were to avoid technical terms that tend to simply describe things you already know, and to educate your senior team and trustees well enough for them to be able to challenge and ask the right questions.

She flagged that you wouldn’t outsource, or entirely delegate to junior staff, the strategy in any other area and it’s a mistake to think you can do this with digital, especially given that it’s a significantly growing area.

Don’t confuse ‘noise’ with impact

The final section of the session focused on the more practical area of KPIs and what trustees should be looking for when it comes to measuring their digital transformation. Laila Takeh, CMO at Raising IT, flagged a number of myths trustees should be aware of and then highlighted how measures could be more meaningful.

Key points were the need to avoid assuming big numbers and improvements are always a good thing; she flagged that it’s too easy to think a big number of visitors or social media followers means impact, when it could just be noise or seasonal trends which aren’t driving you towards your target outcomes.

Another key take-away was the measurement of change itself; she recommended tracking capability of staff against a defined skills matrix, and tracking marketing activity shifts using resources such as the Ofcom communication reports as a baseline of external expectations.

The session wrapped up with a few final questions which highlighted the enthusiasm of the audience to truly move things forward in their organisations. A shared challenge was expressed alongside this – a rally call for funders to engage with the need and provide support.


This entry was posted in Practical support and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Like this? Read more

Helen Ridgway was NCVO’s online engagement manager. Helen has worked in the voluntary sector since 2006, including roles at Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and St Mungo’s.

Comments are closed.