voluntary sector

Modernising the Voluntary Sector Through Digital Transformation

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:15

Thursday 7 February 2019

Central London

This Forum provides participants with the opportunity to discuss methods for successfully implementing a digital transformation strategy that works for the voluntary sector, including building the digital infrastructure that organisations need, as well as developing more digital services for users and beneficiaries. Delegates will discuss with sector leaders the role that digital technology must play if charities are to remain sustainable, and with best practice case studies will explore techniques for enhancing the digital skills of the workforce, improving data analysis, and increasing income generated through fundraising campaigns.


This Forum will bring together leaders from across the Voluntary Sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Chief Executives
  • Directors of Digital Transformation
  • Directors of Marketing
  • Directors of Communications
  • Directors of Fundraising
  • Directors of Innovation
  • Heads of Digital
  • Digital Marketing Managers
  • Digital Services Managers
  • Digital Inclusion Officers
  • Heads of IT

This Forum is also open to the Private Sector to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • David Holdsworth, Chief Operating Officer, Charity Commission
  • Rhiannon Creasey, Business Engagement Manager – Technology, Cancer Research UK
  • Megan Griffith Gray, Head of Digital, Data and Planning, NCVO
View the agenda and additional speakers


The 2018 Charity Digital Skills Report found that almost 50% of charities are still without a digital strategy. This is despite 63% recognising the need for charity leaders to understand the latest digital trends and how they are affected by them. However, 51% are concerned about the leadership potential within their organisation to successfully develop digital products and services – a level of concern that has increased by almost 10% since last year.

In addition to this demand across the sector to enhance digital skills and utilise the power of digital technology, the Government’s 2018 Civil Society Strategy included a number of key digital elements, which look to both support the voluntary sector and work more closely with voluntary organisations. Initiatives include investing in the digital maturity index for the cultural sector, collaborating with SCVO, NSPCC and many others in the Digital Enterprise Delivery Group and supporting the establishment of Local Digital Skills Partnerships, including with civil society organisations, to address digital skills gaps.

Furthermore, sector leaders including NCVO and the Small Charities Coalition are developing a Charity Digital Code of Practice, and a Digital Trustees campaign is underway to promote digital confidence on charity boards.

In support of these efforts, the £1 million Digital Leadership Fund was announced in November 2018 to expand training programmes for charities to improve digital skills. Charity leaders will be able to access free, or heavily subsidised, training around key areas including utilising online fundraising tools, making best use of social media and improving operational digital infrastructure.

If the voluntary sector is to have a bright, sustainable future then the onus is now on charity leaders to harness the power of digital technology to improve service delivery, fundraising potential and operational performance through digital upskilling of the workforce and investing in the key digital infrastructure required.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Zoe Amar, Founder and Director, Zoe Amar Digital and Chair, The Charity Digital Code of Practice (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Examining the Future of Digital Technology in the Voluntary Sector

  • Outlining ongoing and future priorities for digital transformation across the voluntary sector
  • Summarising the role of digital technology in the 2018 Civil Society Strategy, and the impact this will have on voluntary organisations
  • Delivering better digital leadership across the voluntary sector through promotion of workforce upskilling and training opportunities
  • Understanding how partners in other sectors can support charities in developing their technology strategy and digital offer
  • Exploring the ongoing implementation of Making Digital Work, and the benefits trustees are experiencing by adapting the guidance

David Holdsworth, Chief Operating Officer, Charity Commission (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Promoting and Developing Digital Leaders Across the Voluntary Sector

  • Highlighting the need for charity leaders to prioritise investment in digital technology and digital skills, to address challenges faced by the sector
  • Ensuring that senior leaders and trustees feel they have the knowledge and skills to develop and implement the digital transformation required
  • Developing a cost effective digital strategy as a small charity by harnessing the skills and experience of existing staff
  • Creating a workforce plan to implement a digital strategy, deciding whether to have a digital lead, or allocate tasks across several non-specialist leaders
  • Understanding the financial gain of successfully delivering increased digital services

Mandy Johnson, Chief Executive, Small Charities Coalition (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Delivering Financial Savings and Improving Services Through Digital Upskilling

  • Mapping digital use against organisational and sector priorities to identify key areas in need of improvement
  • Recognising the ability of digital technology to help deliver services for frontline staff as well as beneficiaries, and as such, making necessary savings through a reduced need for personnel
  • Increasing outreach and engagement by investing in digital skills for employees to deliver more user-led services online to a wider audience
  • Making use of off-the-shelf digital tools to minimise the financial and time investment required to develop digital services
  • Reducing the input needed from staff to run services and surpassing training targets by over 50% through use of digital technology

Stephen Hale OBE, Chief Executive, Refugee Action (invited)


Case Study: Improving Marketing Strategies through Enhancing Data Analysis

  • Summarising the Ramblers Data and Digital Transformation Plan up to 2020, and how this has been development to ensure improvements in efficiency and outreach to improve supporter engagement
  • Exploring the link between an enjoyable online user experience and increased fundraising, and how data gathering and targeted analysis can help enhance the use and presentation of digital technology
  • Sharing lessons in designing a digital data capture strategy to improve the understanding of volunteers and supporters and enhance communications
  • Evaluating how to develop local and national business intelligence tools to drive data insight across an organisation

Laura Scarlett, Director of Data & Digital Transformation, Ramblers (CONFIRMED)

Named in the DataIQ 100 List of the most influential people in data-driven business in 2018


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Case Study: Determining Priorities for Digital Transformation

  • Knowing when to develop and implement a stand-alone digital strategy
  • Sharing best practice on how to approach a stand-alone digital strategy, and NCVO’s experience
  • Understanding how digital technology can be used effectively to benefit both service users and the organisation itself
  • Exploring what different approaches are needed to make the case to different stakeholders
  • The challenges of moving from strategy to implementation, and how to overcome these

Megan Griffith Gray, Head of Digital, Data and Planning, NCVO (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Creating an Innovative Marketing and Social Media Strategy

  • Sharing Movember’s marketing and social media journey, starting in pre-internet times and leading to numerous viral campaigns
  • Recognising the need for a social media strategy, acknowledging that these platforms are often key sources for people seeking information
  • Outlining core features of successful campaigns: Starting early, choosing a tech-friendly phenomenon and developing strategic partnerships to enhance the reach of online methods
  • Developing more meaningful content to engage audiences, both to raise awareness and increase donations
  • Becoming the first charity to launch an awareness-raising documentary series exclusively on social media through Instagram TV

Senior Representative, Movember Foundation (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Interactive Workshop Session: Building a Successful and User- Centric Digital Transformation Strategy

  • Understanding the changes within the voluntary sector regarding digital transformation in recent years and developing a digital strategy accordingly
  • Summarising the stages of a digital strategy: Prioritising needs, identifying gaps, recognising how to achieve short term gains through staff training, and creating a longer-term investment plan for technology and workforce development
  • Outlining the range of digital products available to the voluntary sector that can be developed for both fundraising and service delivery teams
  • Exploring how to embed user-centric research and development practices across all areas of the organisation that are working to implement the digital transformation strategy
  • Increasing value for all users interacting with the organisation through online methods to enhance website conversion and repurchase
  • Ensuring that silos are broken down between digital, marketing and data teams to achieve maximum benefit from improvement efforts
  • Sharing lessons from the digital transformation journey of Cancer Research UK so far

Leanne Griffin and Rachel Xavier, Service Designers, Cancer Research UK (CONFIRMED)


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

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