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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.

Digital: The Oldest New Thing

Why are we still talking about digital in 2024?

Digital is probably the oldest new thing in your life. The iPhone is old enough to sit its driving test, charity websites have been around for 30 years, and email is as old as me (the ‘experienced’ side of 40).

While new technologies such as generative AI and 5G are rolling out at speed, most people and organisations have been trying to get better at being digital for a lot longer than that. To quote a blog post from 21 years ago, ‘the best technology is invisible’. As anyone who has tried to book or buy something online or to reset a password can tell you, technology is still visible – in a bad way.

When technology gets in the way, it makes for bad user experiences, and creates obstacles for organisations who want to use digital tools to advance their missions.

Change: easy to shoot for, easy to miss

Digital change is easy to say, but hard to do. It's a long-term game. And to a large extent, digital change is a culture, not a strategy problem. It’s about changing the way that you think and collaborate, shifting your perspective on whose needs matter. Not just what software you are using.

Within the voluntary sector, many organisations are small in scale and face many external pressures which can limit their ability to drive sustainable change. We end up meeting the needs of the moment while leaving deeper challenges in place.

SCVO has been working in this space in a variety of ways for more than a decade. And we've seen huge progress in that time, with many organisations using our support to digitally transform, becoming much more agile and responsive, and harnessing technology to work more effectively to serve the needs of the communities they're working with.

But there is much more to do.

The pandemic drove a sea change with digital, where many organisations jumped forward five years in a matter of weeks. Some of those changes were quite superficial (a temporary pivot to Zoom) and some longer term problems remain relatively untouched.

Surfing the next wave

We will keep supporting organisations as they work out the best way to drive sustainable digital change through our digital evolution program. This means recognising progress, turning wins and breakthroughs into repeatable patterns and updating our ambitions while holding true to our principles.

We’ll be coming together on 19 September this year for DigiNext, a brilliant interactive day. The focus of this event will be reflecting on our digital ‘now’ (the good, the bad and the ugly) and thinking about our digital ‘next’ (where could we get to, if we really committed to it?). Look forward to seeing you there!

Last modified on 12 June 2024