Planning for the New World: A Q&A with Mark Atkinson
10th July 2017 2 minutes read
You may have seen the digital guidance for charities that Zoe Amar Communications launched in partnership with the Charity Commission and Grant Thornton UK. At the same time Green Park was supporting Parkinson’s UK on the appointment of its inaugural Director of Digital Transformation and Communication. It quickly became clear that we were all having a lot of the same conversations across the sector around what digital really means for a charity and how far ahead (or not in most cases) the leaders felt they were both as individuals and as an organisation.
This gave us an idea; why not bring together a small group of influential charity leaders to discuss the implications of the guidance for the sector and what kind of support they need in digital? So that is exactly what we did! Working with Zoe Amar Communications and Grant Thornton UK “Digital Discovery” was born. We organised for leaders in the sector to talk about their experiences and discuss concerns. So far this has included what keeps leaders up at night regarding the digital agenda, what the relationship between charities and funders for digital projects is (or could be) and at our third event, live case studies were presented from Jo Wolfe (Head of Digital, Breast Cancer Care), Gareth Germer (Executive Director Change & Development, Samaritans) and Alison McCormack (Founder, We Are MC2 and Interim Digital Consultant at Action on Hearing Loss)
These interactive events at the amazing Lounge venue at Grant Thornton have led to some really interesting debates and a digital community is starting to emerge. I wanted to share with you some of the discussion points from our most recent event.
Our speakers all kindly gave open and honest accounts of the digital journey their organisation was on. All shared really positive steps in the changes being driven but they were also frank about the challenges that digital transformation brings. The enjoyable debate that followed led to insights and questions around the role leadership needs to play in digital, gaining buy in at board level and taking accountability at all levels and functions to ensure real transformation. It also led to the question around should you have a digital trustee on your board; what does that really mean and what role can they play.
One of my favourite parts of the night was the conversation around ensuring that the digital strategy is absolutely linked back to the value proposition of the organisation as if you cannot clearly link it to your mission, how will it ever succeed? The biggest learning from the night I think was recognising that digital transformation is not really a project, it is evolution and will be an ongoing change that organisations will have to keep coming back to and refreshing. You don’t need to know all the answers on digital, but you do need to be ready to ask the questions, and as one delegate said “Don’t let existing structures block you from seeing solutions”.
I am really excited to be part of the “Digital Discovery” community, there are so many topics still to discuss and we will continue to hold these events quarterly. The digital agenda is going to continue to be front and centre for the sector and so the question to ask yourself is “Is my organisation already talking about it and actively taking steps to change?” If you’re not, you should be or you might find you get left behind in this new world.