Could digital technologies save your organisation time and money?

The Covid Pandemic forced many organisations to harness the power of digital technology. Whether it was to continue to engage audiences during periods of social distancing, or to raise money, it spurred creativity and innovation within the sector that continues today. There are a range of innovative applications that can save time, resources and increase your reach and impact. This post explores how digital technologies could assist your heritage organisation, and how you can take the next steps in achieving digital success.
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Cost-saving and digital technology

The Covid Pandemic forced many organisations to harness the power of digital technology.  Whether it was to continue to engage audiences during periods of social distancing, or to raise money, it spurred creativity and innovation within the sector that continues today.

There are a range of innovative applications that can save time, resources and increase your reach and impact. This post explores how digital technologies could assist your heritage organisation, and how you can take the next steps in achieving digital success.

 

Two men at a production desk setting up technology.

Fundraising

A Charities Aid Foundation report found that between May – July 2021, 24% of respondents said they had donated through a website or App in the previous 12 months. Harnessing online giving could help you reach more people and streamline your administrative processes by integrating easy ways to donate into all areas of your organisation. Once the functionality to take donations through your website is set up, it requires little resource to manage. Below are some examples of what you could do to increase your online donations:

 

  • Some Customer Relationship Management system’s (CRM’s) and ticketing systems enable you to set up a dynamic donation ask based upon basket amounts. In practical terms this means if someone’s checkout basket on your website is £10, they won’t also be asked to make a £10 donation, they might instead be asked to donate £1-2. If your suggested donation amount is appropriate, it is more likely to be completed. You could instead ask customers to ‘round-up’ payments during the online (or in person) checkout process, or you could set up a separate ‘pop-up’ donation ask on your website. Examples of paid for companies to explore include Spektrix, Ticketsolve, or Gateway Ticketing Systems, alternatively Art Tickets run by Art fund offers a free online ticketing system for those that are a partner of the National Art Pass network.
  • In addition to your website, easy to use contactless giving points can stimulate donations throughout your venue and offsite. Goodbox reported that the number of individual contactless donations through their platform increased from 32,000 in May 2019 to 78,000 in May 2021, suggesting that contactless giving is on the rise. Your customers ability to donate via a bankcard, phone or watch can make a big difference in them actually making a donation. QR codes that direct people to a support page on your website can offer a lower cost alternative, free options include QRFY or Adobe Express. If you don’t have a website that can take payments, QR codes could instead take you to a digital fundraising platform that can manage the donation process for you, for example PayaCharity or JustGiving.

 

Measuring your impact and success

In addition to using more traditional methods of collecting feedback, digital methods can also be used. This could include in-venue visitor feedback screens, automated post-visit surveys, online focus groups, and Vox Pops (a short video made up of clips taken from interviews with your users).

You are more likely to get richer responses if you gather this information whilst users are still in your venue, or immediately after their experience. This is why digital is particularly useful as it can be automated, or used in venue, and doesn’t necessarily require people power to do it.

Another benefit of using digital is that it is full of data to evaluate success in different ways. For example, you can track how many people are donating, at what level, and from what source by tracking their online journey. You can measure click rates from campaign emails, or what content is most compelling and engaging on your website and socials. This insight will not only give you the information to make evidence-based decisions about your organisation, but it can also strengthen your fundraising proposals to increase your chances of success in an ever-competitive environment.

 

Aiding staff delivery

Within five days of ChatGPT being released in November 2022, the chatbot had attracted over one million users . With this rapid advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI) no wonder the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) commissioned Dr Mathilde Pavis to research how the heritage sector is using AI, and what the potential of it is.

The report found that Heritage organisations are using AI in three key areas of their work: 1. heritage and collections management, use and research; 2. visitor experience; and 3. business operations and management.

Organisations are using AI tools for productivity by generating new marketing content, summarising reports, and producing transcripts of events. For fundraising, AI can also be used to segment donors to enable organisations to create tailored communications and appeals, it can undertake prospect research or even draft a case for support – you can read more on this here. Spoiler – some of it was written using AI!

The NLHF report is well worth a read if you are interested in harnessing the power of AI in your organisation. It gives plenty of examples of how other heritage organisations are innovating and saving staff time and highlights some of the risks.

  • Feeling Inspired? Consider these next questions ?
  • What do you want to achieve, and what is currently restricting you, how could digital technology help?
  • How do you want our audiences and donors to feel? What do you think will work for them?
  • Set realistic targets – what resource and budget do you need to do this?
  • Do you have all the skills in your organisation to deliver this? Do you need to bring in additional support?

You may want to consider creating a Digital Strategy, which can cover everything from fundraising, business and admin processes, to how you reach and engage audiences. Jasper Visser and Jim Richardson have created a Digital Engagement Framework to guide your organisation through creating a Digital Strategy.

Tell us what steps are you taking to enhance digital in your heritage organisation? Do you have anything that has exceeded your expectations that you would like to share with others? Let us know on X @OfficialCause4.