We explore some of the major tech trends that are set to define 2023, exploring data and analytics, automation and artificial intelligence, Blockchain in fundraising, virtual reality in service delivery, and so much more
2023 will be a year full of new and unique challenges. We’ve got an ongoing cost-of-living crisis and a subsequent cost-of-giving crisis. We’ve got rising inflation and a struggling Sterling. We’ve also got the continuing climate crisis, which needs our urgent attention but seems lost amid the many other crises. And so worryingly on.
The challenges are strikingly different from previous years, but many of the solutions remain the same. Organisations can look to digital and tech to meet the cost-of-living crisis, to find new income streams amid the cost-of-giving crisis, to ensure sustainable operations and practices, and to explore new ways to help service users.
So here we will look at key tech trends and discuss how you can meet the challenges of 2023.
Skip to read about sustainability in tech
Skip to read about social media trends
Skip to read about the virtues of Blockchain
Skip to read about automation in the sector
Skip to read about the use of VR
Skip to read about Gaming for Good
Climate change is the most pressing matter of our time. The climate crisis poses a constant and looming threat, one that governments and organisations have thus far failed to challenge. It will become absolutely essential in the coming years to take meaningful action to prevent the devastating consequences.
Charities need to champion climate action. And re-thinking the way they use and employ tech can form part of that action. It is estimated, for example, that the IT sector is responsible for more than 2.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable tech goes some distance towards mitigating that impact, allowing charities to remain environmentally-friendly while still embracing digital. But what exactly do we mean by sustainable tech?
Sustainable tech is an umbrella term for tech that fosters social development and reduced environmental and ecological risks. Famous examples of sustainable tech include:
That might seem like quite high-tech. But lots of sustainable tech options are simple alternatives to pre-existing everyday tech items. Consider, for example, some of the following:
These are just a few small examples. But it shows what your organisation can do, given the right space and time to properly research. And sustainability in tech means more than simply buying the latest sustainable product. It means recycling and reusing tech, buying second-hand hardware.
Basically, sustainability is about ensuring all tech decisions consider the impact on the environment. The key is to remain cognisant of the impact of the tech you use and ensure that you reduce the environmental impact.
One route to achieve that is by doing a tech audit, which allows you to track emissions or monitor carbon footprint. Sage offer an easy guide for tracking your footprint and online calculators can help you to calculate your greenhouse gas emissions, too. These include, among many others, The Carbon Trust and The McKay Carbon Calculator.
The average adult will spend 6 years and 8 months of their life on social media. That slightly alarming statistic should tell charities everything they need to know about the importance of social media. It is a fact of life that charities, regardless of shape and size, need to have some form of social media presence.
Our advice: focus on the right social platforms. And that means thinking about who you want to engage with, the demographics you want to reach, the people you want to convert into donors. You need to pick the platforms that best suit the above criteria. Do your research and find out about the demographics you want to reach. Consider the following information, for example:
That tells you plenty of essential information about Gen Z. If they are your chosen demographic, it’s likely you need to check out TikTok, or maybe Snapchat. It means that you may wish to shift resources from Facebook to one of the younger platforms, maximising your ability to reach younger generations.
Pick the best platform for your needs, then work out the rules of that platform. Each platform has official rules that you need to follow. You need to familiarise yourself with the rules, simply to understand how the platform works. And, importantly, work out the unwritten rules and trends.
That means thinking about some – or perhaps all – of the following questions:
Think about the unwritten rules in the context of the younger generations. If you are aiming to attract Gen Z, maybe add some imagery and video to whatever platform you use. If you are aiming for millennials, perhaps add a sound element. Experiment with your assumptions about the platforms and adjust depending on the results. Let the response inform your decision-making.
Blockchain ensures transparency, above all else. It allows donors to monitor how charities use donations, which incentivises future donations, as donors are more likely to give if they trust the organisation and can visibly track how money is spent. Digital financial platforms, such as Alice, are solving transparency issues by introducing Blockchain into the charity sector.
Based on the Ethereum Blockchain Network, users can track payments made to a particular charity and set conditions around how money may be spent. And, importantly, users can pull back donations if charities do not meet the conditions.
Charity organisations, such as St Mungo’s, are using the Alice platform to improve donation services. St Mungo’s used Alice for an appeal to raise £50,000 to help lift 15 people out of long-term rough sleeping by delivering concentrated personalised support.
Alice worked to freeze donations until the charity provided evidence that money was spent to meet the defined goals. Donors were also able to track when the suggested goals were met.
Blockchain can improve transparency in the charity sector, but it also provides lots of other services. It also helps with tracking supplies, for example. The health sector has used Blockchain during the pandemic to ensure supplies are delivered without delay, with up-to-date information, and without waste.
Because all updates on Blockchain are time-stamped, users can find out where products or supplies are at a certain time with reliable information, which minimises the risk of counterfeit, failures of compliance, and possible delays.
For more information, check out our article: Blockchain for charity fundraising: behind the buzzword.
The pandemic had a huge impact on labour, with some charities hit by staff shortages and struggled to provide adequate service delivery. Some organisations deployed artificial intelligence (AI) to fill that void. AI works by analysing data, denoting essential patterns, and making decisions that better cater to the needs of customers and service users.
The charity sector has been slow on the uptake of AI. The reason is simple: AI can feel daunting. But AI also offers huge opportunities for the charity sector.
Chatbots serve as a good example of basic AI. WaterAid’s ‘Talk to Selly’ campaign, for example, provided potential donors with the chance to chat to a bot purporting to be someone who would benefit directly from the charity’s support.
Mencap have put an ‘Understand Me’ chatbot on their website. The chatbot guides users and potential donors through a conversation with Aeren, who was born with a learning disability. The AI gives users information about her life, while also providing statistics on learning disabilities in the UK.
Chatbots are a simple use of AI, but also a very effective one. They show some of the early possibilities of AI in the charity sector and demonstrate the potential for improvement and growth if the charity sector adopts AI more enthusiastically.
Virtual reality also saw an uptick during COVID-19. The trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as virtual reality becomes increasingly important.
The NSPCC, for example, has been pioneering the use of a computer simulation programme to help tackle child abuse. The NSPCC teamed up with gamification training provider Attensi to create an immersive simulation for those working with children who may be victims of abuse.
Talk To Me is a free-to-use online simulation that aims to build confidence in adults working with children to talk about challenging issues, such as abuse.
It can be accessed through web browsers and involves fictional young characters created with 3D modelling that mimics body language and facial expressions.
Real actors have voiced the characters who are involved in scenarios that users are guided through. In addition, real-time feedback is presented to users depending on how well they have earned children’s trust.
“For anyone who comes into contact with young people who they fear may have suffered abuse or be at risk, learning how to build their trust is absolutely vital,” said NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless. “As part of our wider activity aimed at supporting those who work or volunteer with children, we’re delighted to offer our safeguarding research and experience to collaborate with Attensi on Talk to Me.”
Check out our article for more information: How virtual reality has helped charities.
Charities are increasingly using online games to encourage people to donate – and there have been plenty of success stories.
Make a Wish set up a fundraiser called ‘Game Stars’, which brought together online gamers and streamers to host game shows, stream the shows, and donate money, all of which helps the charity to grant wishes to kids under their care.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) supports people in the most troubled parts of the world. The NRC benefitted by working with Gaming Without Borders, who created a $10 million prize fund to support charities on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.
Elite gamers competed over seven weeks and viewers watched their livestreams, occasionally donating to their favourite causes.
Women Win also used gaming as a tool to provide vital services, such as educational programmes and workshops. Women Win seek to empower women and girls across the globe through the use of play and sport – and that now also means e-sports.
Gaming proved essential during COVID-19 because Women Win had to “meet people where they are” and, with the cancellation of many sporting events and activities, that meant moving online.
Check out our article for more information: How to build a charity gaming campaign.
Digital transformation and the embrace of tech can often feel daunting, with the introduction of new terminology and new processes that seemingly require lots of time, money, and energy. But you’d be surprised. Lots of the trends are cost-efficient, simple to learn, and profoundly beneficial.
Digital transformation depends on will. Charities need to want to adapt. And we are here to help. Keep up-to-date with Charity Digital for more guidance and send us an email if you have any questions or need any advice.
Join us on 08 September from 12:00 to 13:00.
© 2022 Charity Digital Trust. All rights reserved