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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Six reasons to apply for the SCVO Digital Senior Leaders Programme

Applications for our next SCVO Digital Senior Leaders Programme with Third Sector Lab are open until 20 August - if you manage a charity, social enterprise or community group in Scotland & are passionate about developing your organisation digitally here are some reasons you should get involved:

Evolution not Transformation 

‘Transformation’ suggests that we will go to bed one thing and wake up the next day as something completely different. This idea can fill even the most hardened hearts with fear. I prefer to use the word ‘evolution’ – as by definition, it is the gradual development of something. As a concept it has more positive connotations i.e., continuous, incremental changes that happen over time.  

 ‘Digital Evolution’ allows us to introduce the concept of iterative working. Taking small steps and making changes as we go along; as opposed to ‘Digital Transformation’, making a big dramatic change all at once. Working iteratively allows for greater teamwork; the right people, at the right time doing the right things, collaboration, and flexibility.  

Change the Plan but never the Goal 

Five-year strategies are no longer fit for purpose in this constantly changing environment, with new expectations, processes, and ways of working.  A clear attainable goal helps focus attention and reduces project creep, gives a clear sense of what people can say ‘yes’ and by default ‘no’ to, and allows for progress to be measured.  A clear goal allows us to understand what it is we want to achieve, even when our route to achieving the goal changes.   

Staff Skills: Know how Digitally Skilled your Workforce is 

One of the biggest causes of failure in any digital evolution project is fear. Fear that as a member of staff I will be asked to do something I do not know how to do.  

By carrying out a simple staff Digital Skills audit, we can quickly identify where the gaps in skills are and where people with extra skills and confidence can support their colleagues.  

Understand the Problem, Design the Solution 

Spend the most time possible discovering and defining the problem. Be clear where digital will bring benefits and to whom. If digital allows staff to increase their capacity to get on and do more of the work they were employed to do, providing a better service for the people they serve, then do it!  If not, do not do it. Sometimes digital is not always the answer.  

Challenge and test assumptions, ask:  

  • What do you know about the problem (backed up by evidence)?  
  • What do you think you know (gut feel, hunches — does this need to be checked and validated)? 
  • What you do not know (but wish you did)?  

Adapt Agile Methodologies 

Always be data driven, test with intent to challenge assumptions and perceptions. Carry out small tests with small groups regularly and share the data. Don’t be afraid to learn from mistakes and find out what is working- carry out retrospectives regularly and ask:  

  • What's working? 
  • What's kind of working? 
  • What's not working? 

Celebrate the work that is ‘working’, focus on the work that is ‘kind of working’ and ditch the work that is ‘not working’. Celebrate success, however small.  

Keep it Simple: Keep it Low Cost and just Start 

Try things that can be introduced now, that require no additional budget, and only a small amount of time. Funding and time are two of the most common reasons used to stave off any digital evolution project.  

Not knowing where to start is the third most cited reason,  SCVO’s Digital Checkup tool can help identify the strengths and the gaps an organisation is facing with digital technology and to start the conversation.  

As non-profits, we operate in a constantly changing environment. Organisations that truly understand the problems people face, put user needs first and look at how technology might contribute to a solution are the ones that will adapt and thrive in this changing environment.   

If you’d like to find out for yourself apply here for our SCVO Digital Senior Leaders Programme.

This blog was originally written for Blackbaud  Digital Futures, a deep dive on digital transformation and change management   

Last modified on 13 August 2021