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Key findings from the Charity Finance Group annual conference

The Charity Finance Group (CFG) annual conference took place on 29 June in London. Proclaimed as “the biggest gathering of charity finance professionals in the UK” and, being relatively new to the sector, the event was a great opportunity for Jaime Gilbert, New Business Sales Executive at Embridge to gather insights, meet with customers and partners, and hopefully make some new connections! Jaime has put together his high-level key findings from the event, which he hopes you will find helpful.

Diving straight in, overall, the day highlighted the challenges and opportunities facing charities in the current environment, but one of the key themes that emerged was the concept of “polycrisis,” which refers to the simultaneous occurrence of multiple crises. This can lead to cascading effect that makes it difficult for organisations to respond effectively.

The role of technology in helping charities and not-for-profit organisations in uncertain times was another important topic. The fact that technology can be used to improve forecasting, engagement, and agility was highlighted. One example of this is how data analytics can be used to identify emerging trends and to target donors more effectively.

The changing expectations of donors is an ongoing challenge linked to the changing role of technology. Donors are increasingly demanding digital channels and options for making donations. They also want more connection and knowledge of where their money is going. This means that charities and not-for-profit organisations need to adapt their fundraising strategies to meet these expectations.

When talking about technology, it would be impossible not to mention digital transformation, and although it can help charities and not-for-profit organisations to operate more efficiently and to reduce costs, there are also risks. Discussions highlighted that it’s important to invest in things like security and business change to mitigate those risks. On the business change side, there was a recognition that managing change is a complex process, and it is important to have an inclusive strategy in place. This means involving all stakeholders, from the executive team to volunteers and donors.

As with the recent Public Finance Live event that some of my colleagues attended, the CFG conference discussed the fear of AI and how to promote the benefits of this technology. The delegation agreed that AI can be used to improve support for beneficiaries and to enable people to do more meaningful work, by making the most of those skills that can’t fully be replicated by machines.

Speaking of people, retaining talent and the challenges with recruitment came up in both the sessions and discussions with delegates. On one hand, there is a growing recognition that hybrid working means the search for talent can be extended further afield than was previously possible. On the other, charities and not-for-profit organisations need to realise that they do have access to a pool of skills, some of which could be freely available, through their partners, volunteers and donor communities. On this topic, the key takeaway should be to widen your network and expand your traditional avenues for recruitment!

Here are some additional trends that were discussed at the event:

  • The need for more flexible funding – Charities and not-for-profit organisations need to be able to respond quickly to changing needs. This means having a flexible funding pipeline that can be adapted to meet the demands of different crises.
  • The importance of data – Data can be used to improve decision-making, to target donors more effectively, and to measure the impact of programs. Charities and not-for-profit organisations need to make sure that they are collecting and using data effectively.
  • The need for a more inclusive approach - Charities and not-for-profit organisations need to make sure that they are reaching all potential donors, including those who are less digitally savvy. This means providing multiple channels for making donations and communicating with donors.
  • The importance of security – Charities and not-for-profit organisations need to invest in security to protect their data and to prevent fraud. This is especially important in the digital age when there are more threats to security.

Together, these trends can provide a useful roadmap for charities and not-for-profit organisations as they navigate the challenges of the current environment. By embracing some of these ideas, these organisations can be more effective in their work and can make a greater impact on the lives of those they serve.

Overall, the event provided a valuable opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing charities and not-for-profit organisations. The themes that emerged from the event suggest that technology, data, and business change will be essential to the success of these organisations in the years to come. If you need support with any of these areas, get in touch with me or the team today.

Image via CFG

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Embridge Consulting

About Embridge Consulting

Embridge Consulting is a leading boutique systems integration consultancy, specialising in Unit4 ERP and other partners.

Founded in 2009 and headquartered in the UK, the consultancy works with clients in the public sector, nonprofit, professional services, and other sectors to provide a more personal and tailored client experience compared to other, more traditional global systems integrators. Through professional and experienced consulting, best-in-class ERP technology, training, and a commitment to continual client improvement, Embridge is helping clients achieve faster time to value from digital transformation programs, at lower cost and with less risk.

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