Technology Benchmarking Report shows charities slow to embrace the social web
A new technology benchmarking report has found that Australia’s charities and nonprofit organisations are missing out on opportunities presented by the social web and buying software that does not meet their needs.
Those that embrace the digital future are experiencing gains in productivity but some still face major challenges, according to the Connecting Up Australia (CUA) ‘Are We There yet?’ Report. The report on the technology capacity of Australia’s charities and nonprofit groups was based on an extensive survey of over 930 organisations nationwide.
Connecting Up Australia CEO, Doug Jacquier, says: “Those organisations who are ‘ahead of the game’ are using online banking and purchasing more than they were two years ago when we last surveyed. They are also taking up internet-based phone systems, raising more funds online, and adopting some new software.
"However, they are not moving towards improved Customer/Member Relationship Management (CRM) systems or significantly participating in the ‘social web’ revolution via sites such as Facebook, blogs, RSS feeds, and mobile technologies. This is worrying because it risks not engaging the next generation of donors, volunteers, employees, sponsors and supporters."
“Those ‘behind the game’ seem content to stay there and deliver ‘business as usual,” Mr Jacquier said. While that may be appropriate in some specialised circumstances, the increasing trend toward lower levels of support from government and increasing reliance on public fund-raising, corporate sponsorship, and private philanthropy will mean such organisations will find it increasingly difficult to get on anyone’s radar when they need support.”
The survey outcomes throw out a real challenge to software developers in that charities and nonprofits are between two and four times more likely than other sectors of the economy to conclude that the software they have does not meet their needs.
“However the most worrying result from this survey is that despite the sector spending up to an estimated $500m annually on technology, three out of five charities and nonprofits are not spending a cent on technology-related training. You can’t just buy the boxes, plug them in and have instant efficiency”, Mr Jacquier said.
He strongly criticised both State and Federal Governments for their piece-meal efforts to address technology capacity development for nonprofits. He pointed out that the previous Commonwealth Government commissioned a study to address the need for a National Nonprofit ICT Coalition, along the lines of the highly successful UK ICT Hub for charities and voluntary organisations. Despite publicly endorsing the report’s recommendations while in Opposition, he said the current Government has taken no action on the key issues since being elected.
Jacquier went on “This is despite governments of all persuasions being able to find billions to invest in technology infrastructure and capacity development for the government and business sectors. Meanwhile Australia’s ‘Third Sector’, which generates more GDP than the IT sector itself, is left to fend as best it can, often while delivering services on behalf of Government.”
The ‘Are We There Yet?’ report from Connecting Up Australia, including recommendations, can be downloaded at http://www.connectingup.org/NFPtechnologysurvey2008 , along with the detailed survey results and case studies prepared by Digital Business Insights.