Why digital services need to be part of every charity’s offering

As soon as I heard “We were able to reach people we previously couldn’t“ I knew there was no going back.

Older Man iPad
Older Man iPad

In the past two years I have pretty much done nothing else other than help charities, primarily those supporting older or disabled people, to effectively deliver their services remotely.

What started as a response to the COVID crisis has now evolved into a whole new method of reaching those in-need, and as soon as I heard “We were able to reach people we previously couldn’t“ I knew there was no going back.

While there is no denying the value of in-person interactions, there is also no denying how effective well designed digital services can be.  To the extent, that I cannot see a future where digital and remote service do not form part of all but the smallest of charities service offerings.

If you find yourself thinking “But our members prefer to meet in person” then consider the following: A recent survey of service users by Salesforce revealed that when given a choice 70% would prefer in person appointments over digital ones.  That means 30% don’t!

After two years of having their opportunities for human interaction reduced and only being able to consume services remotely, 3 out of 10 service-users still do not have a preference for in-person appointments.

And let’s face it the remote services they likely experienced were hastily designed in a crisis, used unfamiliar tools that were probably not designed for the job and were delivered and consumed in a period of extreme uncertainty and pressure.

There is no doubt the quality and design of these remote services are only going to get better, that remote interactions will continue to improve over time, that tools are going to become more accessible and easier to use and that service users will become more familiar and comfortable. It’s seems obvious to me that the 30% is going to rise.

In 3 years time, will it be 40%? In 5 years will it be 50%?

The most important goal of any service is to be available to people at the time they need it and in a way that is convenient and accessible to them and for some people, this will not be in person.

With that in mind you should be designing long-term sustainable services that are accessible for those people right now.

Let me know what you think.