Dec Days of ’Best Of’ - Your service delivery could be improved using the simplest of tools. We examine some of the best, and potentially overlooked, tools for service delivery.
As we gear up for the festive season, we are celebrating the Dec days of Christmas, as well as the best in digital achievement, with Dec days of ’Best Of’ lists. Covering everything related to the charity tech sector, join us every day for new ’Best Of’ lists.
Digital technology has the capacity to transform many parts of a charity’s activities such as fundraising and communication, and in particular, it can have a huge impact on service delivery. To get an idea of digital technology’s dramatic potential in this area, consider this: when advocacy service charity seAp created a web-based tool to help low-income people prepare for work and disability benefits assessments, it increased its client reach by a factor of 1000, at a cost of just ten times the level of investment in its face-to-face service. Here are five other digital tools that can have a dramatic effect on charities’ service delivery capabilities:
Messaging services Service delivery tools don’t have to be complicated to be effective: even relatively straightforward messaging services such as WhatsApp or traditional text messaging can have a huge impact on an organisation’s ability to deliver charitable services. For example, the BBC launched a WhatsApp-based service to provide information and advice to people at risk of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa - especially in relatively remote regions. Closer to home, Carers UK’s Jointly service allows carers to co-ordinate their activities with others who care for the same person using texts messages.
Collaboration tools Collaboration tools are used by crowdfunding services to bring together people with ideas and people with money, to get projects off the ground. Similar tools can be used by charities to bring people with particular needs and supporters with particular skills together. For example, digital leader MacMillan Cancer Support ran a Team Up service which used collaboration tools to bring together people with cancer who need help with everyday tasks and people who have a little spare time and the desire to provide some assistance.
Self-service tools The benefits of enabling service users to serve themselves can be very valuable. In addition, the cost savings that a self-service model can bring, it can also be far more convenient for users who may want to access services at any time of day or night, rather than only during working hours. Macmillan offers a vast array of information resources, and the charity has found that 50% of all interactions with these resources take place online using the simplest of self-service tools: a website. Other charities use apps to offer their information resources on a self-service basis, such as the British Red Cross with its First Aid app.
Electronic billboards Service delivery tools can be found in the most unexpected forms, and that includes electronic advertising billboards. A key benefit offered by billboards is that they are free to look at and - unlike a website or app - they don’t require a computer or any other electronic equipment to view them. That makes them accessible to the widest possible audience of potential service users. That was the thinking behind Clear Channel International’s use of electronic billboards in Stockholm when the temperature drops below -28 centigrade. During extremely cold weather its billboards switch from displaying advertisements to displaying information from charities and other non-profit supporters about free shelter for homeless people. "These are people who don’t necessarily follow the media or turn to local authorities for help ... but they can’t miss billboards," Ola Klingenberg, a Clear Channel International executive, said in a Reuters report.
CRM software Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) software can help charities with activities such as donor and other constituent management, campaign management, donation management (including the ability to take payments), donation accounting, fundraising event management as well as providing analytics and reports. For charities that are focused on becoming data-driven, a CRM system’s database and charity-tailored features can be very useful for service delivery. For animal charity Tiggywinkles, its Harlequin CRM system allows it to keep track of animals in its care and keep the people who have brought them in informed of their condition quickly and easily. This means the charity can provide a more efficient service for animals and rescuers, as well as saving it time and money - which can then be spent on delivering more services to animals.