Many charities face a challenge in that their service users are tech-averse, or lack digital skills. How can charities overcome these issues?
While fewer and fewer of us would call ourselves Luddites, many are still tech-averse. The Office of National Statistics has highlighted that while nearly all adults aged 16-44 years old are avid internet users, 53% of older people do not use the internet. Despite most people using the internet regularly, the digital skills gap, according to expert IT consultancy Accenture is costly - £141 billion could be the price of outdated tech skills.
Charities are doing their part in making sure that their supporters are able to bridge that gap in ability. Charity digital leaders are using cutting edge technology to connect with their tech-adverse audiences – phone apps, video, AI, chatbots, digital ambassadors and in-person drop-in centres are just a few of the ways they have used to overcome tech fears.
Friendly chatbots help donors and service users
Mencap’s amiable chatbot delivers early legal advice to those with mental disabilities, and offers learning opportunities for supporters. Mencap’s chatbot Aeren can be found at home on the charity’s website, allowing users to easily access information. The chatbot has recently picked up £50,000 in additional funding from the Legal Access Challenge to develop the service further.
Digital champions make tech easier to understand
Using a more direct approach, Digital Unite’s network programme uses online training and social media tools to embed Digital Champions across charitable organisations. The personalised approach means that champions can log into a dashboard, select online courses to be added to their dossier, getting everyone up to speed at their own pace. Managers can then go in and check which courses champions have mastered.
Social media makes messages easy to digest
Not to be forgotten, low-cost tech platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook can easily excite even the most reluctant tech user. Charities marketing to service users has never been easier. Late last year, Instagram introduced donation stickers as part of the Stories functionality, allow donors and users to check out videos and donate more easily.
Rated highly by Classy, an online fundraising platform for charities,
“The work that we’ve done with Persado has allowed us to understand what messages resonate most with our audience and has enabled us to scale those learnings across platforms and even internationally to help us grow,” said CEO Scott Harrison.
By using unconventional tech to reach out to donors, the charity is able to have a greater impact on service users who may otherwise be tech-averse.
Homeless charities reach out to those without tech
Sometimes, the issue isn’t just that service users are tech-averse: it’s that they have little to no access to tech that many of us take for granted. Homelessness charities think creatively about how to reach out to their users with no fixed address. In times of need, Swedish charities, NGOs, and faith-based organisations partnered with Clear Channel, the digital billboard maker. When the temperature dips below freezing, directions to the nearest shelter are displayed on digital marketing billboards, helping homeless people find warmth.
Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen is a service for those out of a home to find food. Using GPS, the website allows registered members to find hot food and a bed for the night. Services users can simply go online, fill in a form, and quickly gain access to the website’s resources. A list of the nearest shelters and canteens shows up by location. For those on the streets, membership is free.