Review: Infoxchange’s 2023 Digital Technology Report Findings Webinar
Highlights from this year's report launch
This year, we were very lucky to have a special line-up of guests launch the 2023 Digital Technology in the Not-For-Profit Sector Report.
Our guests included:
- Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP (Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury and Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT)
- Hamish Hansford (National Cyber Security Coordinator, Home Affairs)
- Dr Catherine Brown OAM (CEO, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation)
- David Spriggs (CEO, Infoxchange)
- Sophie Souchon (Digital Transformation Consultant. Infoxchange)
The in-depth discussion of the report findings covered the state of technology in our sector, cyber security, data and impact measurement, and some insightful and practical advice for digital transformation in the not-for-profit sector. You can find the full report and webinar video free here.
Here are some of our favourite quotes
Dr. Andrew Leigh on the 2023 Digital Technology in the Not-For-Profit Sector Report
“The latest survey shows a whole host of interesting trends, the doubling the use of generative A.I., an increase in the share of organisations looking to improve their cybersecurity practices. It emphasizes the importance of two-factor authentication and also discusses issues such as moving data to the cloud, remote working, and much more. All of that enabling technology is critical if Australia's charities and not-for-profits are to be as productive and effective as they can be. And yes, we can talk about productivity in the context of charities, not-for-profits. Even when you're doing good, you can be more productive in achieving that. The work that Infoxchange has done in partnering with Australia's charities and not-for-profits, has been vital in improving the productivity of the sector."
Q: What are the biggest opportunities and concerns you have for the sector?
A: “We saw the Pareto phone hacking scandal this year, where a number of organisations’ donors had their details stolen and publicised. This is potentially damaging to people’s willingness and confidence to donate. This is amplified if you were to think of an organisation with vulnerable client details on file and have that hacked. I think our sector – particularly in the family violence space – deals with very confidential information, and the trust and confidence that Australians rightly have in our terrific charity sector could be undermined by these sorts of breaches. As you mentioned in this year’s report, there are some straightforward approaches to cyber security. Two-factor authentication is high on the list, or moving things into the cloud and making sure that systems are secure in other ways. That, to me, strikes me as possibly probably the biggest risk for the sector from a technology standpoint.”
Q: How can the sector improve impact measurement and work more closely with the funding bodies?
“We need to do a better job of evaluating programs, and having access to good data drives down the cost of a quality evaluation. It doesn't obviate the need for a quality evaluation – I'm a big advocate for randomised policy trials, and I think having a clear counterfactual in any assessment you do is absolutely critical. And this isn't something that organisations should be going alone on. I've been urging Australia's largest foundations to think about allocating funding specifically for randomised trials or providing it as a portion of a grant. The higher quality of your evaluation, the greater your ability will be to magnify your impact.”
Hamish Hansford on cybersecurity and the not-for-profit sector
“We need to collaborate much more than we ever have, and we need to break down the barriers between industry, not-for-profits and government”
Q: What advice would you give to organisations embarking on their cyber security journey?
“If you're a board member, create a culture of curiosity. If people come and talk to you and you don't understand what they're saying, you should be much more curious and say, how does that work? And what's the benefit and how would that actually practically make a difference? It's a bit like financial risk: just because you're not a financial expert doesn't mean you can't be on a Board, but you have that fiduciary responsibility. So it’s the same thing for cyber security. Having been now for about four years in the cyber environment, people talk at me, and I still don't understand half of what they say - and I just keep on saying, how does that work? And what does that actually mean in plain English? And I think just having the courage to do that, there's no shame in breaking down those impediments. It's not that tech experts are being malicious, a lot of cyber professionals kind of get caught up in the technology and how things work.”
Dr Catherine Brown AOM, CEO of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation on digital strategy
“If you think about all the different parts of a not-for-profit organisation and the governance and the leadership and so on, you soon realise that digital capacity is absolutely core now. It’s core now as this survey shows. For Boards, it needs to be in the strategy. What's the theory of change? How are you going to achieve it? And then the digital resourcing is as much a part of it as are all the other parts of developing the budget and business plan. It’s not easy. We’ve spent many years trying to get our grants management and impact evaluation better and better, and we make improvements all the time. We learn from what's working and what's not working. It’s not easy, but in every strategic plan, there should be some organisational development aspect about digital transformation.”
Q: What advice do you have for NFPs on digital strategy?
“Digital transformation has to be part of business as usual, it just needs to be part of the planning process and your strategic plan and then your budgeting and particularly cyber security. We just did an internal audit on that. That was a top priority, and then on the opportunity side of technology, maybe it’s as simple as just taking on one project for the coming year that will enhance your service delivery or the way you learn as an organization or maybe two if you're a bigger organisation. But don't get completely overwhelmed, try to do something well. We're currently doing a digital technology health check with Infoxchange, and we know we've got improvements to do. We have a technology committee that is helpful. No matter whether you're small or big, we are all on this journey.”
David Spriggs, CEO of Infoxchange on digital transformation in the not-for-profit sector
“Digital transformation is not a project that starts and stops over six months. It's a continuous journey.”
Sophie Souchon on how organisations can begin using data to inform their services and report their impact.
"For organisations that are just starting out, I would suggest building the skills internally on how you use your data. Understand where your data is: is it in your service delivery system? Is it in a spreadsheet? Is it via your website? Understand what's important to you and start looking at it. Start thinking about what you can draw from that data to inform your work, and then start reporting it. Take it to your management team committee and show them the interesting insights - like how ‘all of a sudden we are seeing domestic violence response rates being different based on age’, for example. That can inform how you deliver and adapt your services. Take the time, no matter your size, no matter your complexity, go find your data. That's probably the best tip. And go do some really great training from the Digital Transformation Hub."
Q: How can not-for-profits improve on their digital technology?
A: "A good starting point is to talk to your staff. They know a lot of the challenges that they will be experiencing with their technology. Listen to them. They won't always articulate it through a tech lens but listen, take it on board, and prioritise it. Think about where the quick wins might be versus the complex and expensive. Speak with some of your tech providers. The Digital Transformation Hub can also help you: we provide three expert sessions where you can come and bring your questions. It can be as simple as “I've asked my staff, these are their challenges, where should we go?” And we can help you navigate that, as well as a lot of your tech support can as well."
"After this, create a plan. Think about what can you do or what do you have a budget for? If you don't have any budget, what can you optimize within your existing environment? And then go forward from there and make a simple Gantt chart that you can think about scheduling and budgeting alongside that. If you need to go out for funding for that, that's something you can then start a business case from, because you've got that plan, and you've got a clear direction forward. This year’s report found that staff are 24% more satisfied and confident when a plan is in place, even if they’re not making the changes at the moment."
"Digital Transformation is a journey, and you need to take everyone along with you. It’s easy to fall into the tech lens and only think about that when we talk about technology, but remember it’s about people and processes as well. Technology is also everyone's responsibility. It is not just sitting within one team isolated to the side. Everyone is using technology today. It’s everyone's responsibility to make sure it works for the mission and that it’s made a priority to factor in ongoing improvements."