Digital for charities in a post-digital world

We live in a post-digital world. We’ve been heading that way since the term was first used over ten years ago, but following the digital reality we all lived through last year and are living through today, we can well and truly say that today we are living in a post-digital world. And charities are too.

To say our world and lives are post-digital is not to imply digital is over, that it is to be replaced with something else, but instead it means that digital is now so embedded and intertwined into our lives that it ceases to be extraordinary. Digital is just expected now. We don’t meet or call, we Zoom or Whatsapp. We don’t go to the bank to withdraw cash, we pay with NFC-enabled smart phones. If we want to know something we google it without a second thought. If ‘digital’ is “Applying the culture, processes, business models & technologies of the internet-era to respond to people’s raised expectations.”, then perhaps post-digital is recognising that those expectations aren’t considered raised anymore, they just the usual experience.

What does this mean for charities? It creates even more impetus for charities to digitise in order to keep pace with the rest of a digitised society. The design of that new website isn’t going to impress anyone, even less so if the systems and processes behind it don’t meet basic user needs. Having live chat doesn’t help if it can’t be used to access the same support that is available by phone.

As technology sinks further into the background of experience, and the online/offline distinction disappears, the everyday expectation of charities will be that their services and products are user-focused: simple, easy to use, solving a problem for people, safe, secure & private, and continuously improving.

For charities, at a time when many are stretched and squeezed, the added pressure of having to digitise to meet the everyday expectations may seem like an impossible task. But it doesn’t have to. Digital doesn’t have to mean new technology infrastructure, new websites, more systems. Start with digital thinking. Understand what it really means to be operating in a digital society. For example, artificial intelligence is more and more a part of our lives, but for charities keeping pace doesn’t mean implementing AI, it means thinking about how AI might affect beneficiaries and then how the charity could counter those affects. In a post-digital world, where digital experience and interaction is everyday, digital thinking is essential.

Other stuff to read about post-digital