By Rachel Walker, Head of Marketing, Destiny Wireless
There are over 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales and together they produce an annual income of over £63 billion. And like many other organisations, they have the usual administrative demands of paperwork, data collection, data analysis and the storage of financial and fundraising documents.
They need to make these documents available for many different people to share – volunteers, trustees, employees and many others – who at any time, could be spread around the country in different offices or even in different countries.
Different offices and locations also need to be able to use the same integrated systems to record income and manage all the different functions – HR, finance, IT and recruitment –across the board.
And last, but not least, they also need to be able to make these large quantities of paperwork available for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to audit Gift Aid donations. An audit trail is needed from the gift aid claim, through to the list of donors and then through to the actual donations appearing on the charity’s bank statements
So connectivity and collaboration is vital for the charity sector and it makes sense for charities to turn to technology to help them become more efficient and to streamline their work processes.
As charities struggle to survive on existing, or even decreasing, donations and support their volunteers, many of them are considering the benefits of automating processes and digitising documents and records. Many charities find that the saving of office space alone is a good reason to switch over to automated systems.
In this blog, I’d like to look at a couple of examples of charities using Document Management software to good advantage, in this country and elsewhere:
The MJFF – the Michael J. Fox Foundation raises money for research into a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Recently MJFF has been working with Intel on a project which involves using an open-source big data analytics platform to analyse patient data collected from ‘wearable’ devices. The way this works is that people suffering from Parkinson’s disease wear devices on their wrists that track their movements. These devices collect information such as slowness of movement, tremors and quality of sleep and they can capture up to 300 observations per second. Doctors are hoping to use this data to measure how Parkinson’s progresses and to help develop medication for the treatment of the disease.
As you can see, this is potentially a revolutionary project and an excellent example of how research collecting and analysing data in the right way can lead to charities improving the quality of lives of people who are suffering from life-limiting illnesses.
Another great example comes from the disability charity, Papworth Trust, based in Cambridge, which supports disabled and older people. The Trust helps over 20,000 people a year and previously it relied on a legacy tape-based backup for storing their data. But like many successful charities, the Papworth Trust grew bigger and bigger and had to improve its systems. The Trust has now upgraded to a fully managed Enterprise Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery solution. The opening of new sites and the expansion of services meant that the amount of data the charity had to manage became too much and the cost of the tapes and reliability issues meant that modern document management became, as we say, a ‘no-brainer’. Their priority had to be that their data was both secure and accessible and that’s now exactly what it is. It’s something I think a lot of charities can relate to.
It’s important to keep secure copies of our important data, documents and images and, from our experience, most organisations are enthusiastic about embracing digital technology to help improve their data and workflow strategies. It’s just about choosing the right technology for the environment and job itself. When charities have technology that can help increase productivity and enhance the quality of services they offer, then they are able to do more with the money they are given.
There are in fact thousands of fantastic charities doing amazing work and all of them using new methods and technologies to help them achieve great things (too many to include in this blog) but it does seem that modern data strategies are catching on.