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According to Microsoft, Big Data is “levelling the playing field” for charities, allowing them to obtain important information that offers similar insights to their customers as international businesses. This announcement was made at Microsoft’s first-ever digital skills conference in Edinburgh by Steven Grier, Microsoft’s manager for Scotland.

He added that it was an “amazingly exciting” time to be involved in the Third Sector, mainly due to technology advancements. The data provided by these new technologies offer “valuable insight about who and where your donors are and when they are likely to donate”; incredibly advantageous information for charities.

Digital Technology

Microsoft’s Tech4Good event focused on digital transformation and cyber security and discussed the lack of technology skills amongst UK charities with an aim to improve them through free learning workshops. This need for improvement comes after statistics like the ones provided by Lloyd’s Bank UK Digital Business Index 2016, which say that only 51% of charities in the UK have basic digital skills.

This research also found that charities that have more experience with digital technologies are 28% more likely to obtain an increase in funding, although only 53% of them are currently accepting online donations.

Opportunities for Charities

Mycroft’s UK Responsibility Manager and Tech4Good Lead, Eve Joseph, said “I believe technology can be a powerful force that opens exciting opportunities for charities to achieve their missions and accelerate their impact. But for this to happen, it is fundamental for charity leaders to have a basic understanding of technology and to embed digital in their strategic planning.”

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is also cooperating with Microsoft to help charities and voluntary organisations to remain “up-to-date with the ever-changing digital scene”, said Sally Dyson, Head of Digital Participation. She added, “Tech4Good is a great opportunity for organisations to get to grips with what’s happening right now and hear direct from Microsoft about what might work for them.”

Charities have a great opportunity to leverage themselves against multinational companies if they invest in digital technologies as they will be able to obtain greater customer insights that will help to improve the way they work.

Microsoft also donated more than £100 million worth of software to UK charities, so their investment and interest in charities are clear. Digital technologies are transforming the way the world works and charities need to be able to adapt and evolve in order to reap the rewards.