Five Good Ideas
Five Good Ideas for demystifying digital transformation
Published on 22/04/2021
In this session, Marina Glogovac, President & CEO of CanadaHelps, shares insights on one of the hottest topics out there right now: digital transformation. With a career spanning nearly three decades in technology and media (including working in the magazine industry during the shift to the internet), she knows the challenges that come from forced disruptions. In this session, Marina helps viewers understand what digital transformation actually means, and how to think about and approach this seemingly overwhelming task.
Five Good Ideas
- Digital transformation is not about technology.
- You need the right technology, and integration is important.
- You need a clearly defined vision and to address four areas: Internal productivity, donor and customer process, culture and roles, and new service and revenue models.
- Change must be resourced.
- Go digital or go dark. A sense of urgency and ongoing commitment to digital transformation is critical for future survival and success.
- CanadaHelps’ Whitepapers on Digital Fundraising.
- CanadaHelps’ Webinars on Digital Fundraising.
- “Unlocking success in digital transformations.” McKinsey & Company.
- The Giving Report 2021: Faster Growth in Online Giving Crucial During Times of Crisis. CanadaHelps.
- The Technology Fallacy. How People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation. By Gerald C. Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan R. Copulsky and Garth R. Andrus.
Note: The transcript has been edited for clarity.
Elizabeth – Now, while many of you are dialing in from across Canada, I’m speaking to you from Toronto. I’d like to begin today’s session by acknowledging the land where we live and work, and recognizing our responsibilities and our relationships where we are. As we are meeting and connecting virtually today, I encourage you to acknowledge the place you occupy. I am, and Maytree is, on the historical territory of the Huron-Wendat, Petun, Seneca and most recently, the Mississaugas of the New Credit Indigenous peoples. This territory is covered by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt covenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and the Ojibwe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the lands and resources around the Great Lakes.
In this session today, Marina Glogovac, president and CEO of CanadaHelps, will share insights on one of the hottest topics out there right now: digital transformation. That is to say, she will look at how digital technology is transforming how we do business and provide our services, often replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital ones, or replacing older technology with newer digital technology. With a career spanning nearly three decades in technology and media, including working in the magazine industry during the shift to the internet, Marina knows the challenges that come from what many of you see as forced disruptions.
In this session, she’s going to help us understand what digital transformation actually means, and how to think about and approach this seemingly overwhelming task. For Marina’s full bio plus her ideas and resources please download the handout in the chat. It is now my pleasure to welcome Marina.
Marina – Thank you, and hi everyone. We’re going to talk today about what has become an incredibly popular topic, especially in the pandemic and post-pandemic, although we’re not post-pandemic yet, and that is digital transformation. In terms of the goals for today, I want to create a bit of a shared understanding about what digital transformation is, and why it matters – although I suspect that that won’t be in dispute very much.
Secondly, I’ll share some best practices for success. The practices I’ll discuss stem from my personal experience in the 1990s and early 2000s, when I was a magazine publisher. I was running different print titles, and I really went along with my colleagues in the print publishing industry and magazine industry. We went through an incredibly painful disruption by the internet.
Reflecting back, I realized so many things that really ring true when I read today’s research. So I have been interested in digital transformation not just now, but for years. I’ve been reading lots of studies, of course Mackenzie, KPMG, Deloitte, they have all done them, and others as well. They have all done tons of studies on how one goes through the spirit of upheaval and disruption of digital transformation, and my personal experience reflects what I’ve read. Last week I read at least three dozen studies just about what’s happened since the pandemic, and how things have changed. Some of the best practices are seen in companies that report success.
The third goal is to understand the role of culture, change management, and leadership.
One thing that I always say about digital transformation is based on my own experience. In the digital economy, it goes way beyond adopting software and hardware, or even hiring some talent. It really does. It calls for a much broader organizational transformation, and it really asks for deeper changes, organizational cultural, and leadership.
I can tell you 100% of this is true, because back in the 2000, a whole bunch of smart magazine publishers hired talent, got technology, and created new departments. But we really, really underestimated the change, the depth of change, and what we actually needed to do. So our mindset was very much unchanged, until we had to go through a painful transition.
Many people probably know how much print publishing and print newspapers have been decimated by this.
What is the digital economy? The digital economy is an incredibly fast-growing ecosystem. In 2016, it was worth 11.5 trillion American dollars and represented 15% of the global GDP. Because of the pandemic, the pace and acceleration of changes, and the adoption of the consumer internet, it is now predicted that by 2025 the digital economy will represent a third of the global GDP.
Obviously this is far-reaching in consequence. We don’t have the time today to talk about so many consequences, including inequality, displacement, and all sorts of other things. It’s outside of the scope of this presentation, but it’s clear that donors and consumers are driving this change because they’re demanding engagement transaction via digital channels. They’re demanding that they find these things where they are.
So this multi-channel universe is very consumer-centric. They are really the ones who are driving organizations and companies to adopt technology, because otherwise they would lose customers. In our case, we would lose donors and/or we stand to lose donors in the future.
Another thing that I also want to point out is that the digital economy also requires new org charts. There are new roles and new jobs. We didn’t have data scientists and data analysts ten years ago. And there are really new ways of working. The nature of who can succeed in it, it’s somewhat at odds with our old hierarchical methods of decision-making, communicating, and how we’re organized within organizations.
So this is also changing. We all know this.
I was really struck when I went through the research by just how crazy things have gotten during the pandemic. Companies not only shifted into digital, but they greatly accelerated all of their pre-pandemic plans for digital transformation by seven years, that is to say investments into digital infrastructure, investments into cybersecurity, digital online privacy, or pipeline of products and services that they were going to launch that were digital. The pace of adaptation, and how quickly companies adopted, again this is a generalization, was just really incredible.
One thing that there is consensus around is that things will not go back to how they were. This is partially because so many companies invested a lot into transitioning or pivoting into a different way of working and investing into their overall digital infrastructures. There is no going back. This is also because it already existed. I mean, the pandemic has only accelerated what were already very, very strong trends out there.
Idea 1: Digital transformation is not about technology.
My first idea comes out of what we just talked about, this is not about technology. I have to say that I think the number one reason that I read in surveys why these efforts fail is that digital transformation is viewed in a very narrow way. It’s viewed as something new that I.T. has to do, or needs to do. Or it’s viewed as something that the digital marketers have to, or need to, do or maybe something that we need to do online. It’s really broader than that. It’s more about a shift in how we get organized to work, and how to get work done. It’s also about how we can deliver value to stakeholders. Obviously there are different stakeholders for charities than for for-profit businesses.
So it does really require a cultural change. It requires a change into digital-first, mobile-first, and “what else is possible?” Because technology does remove barriers, it does remove physical barriers, it does remove barriers to access, services, and programs. So really thinking about what new value could be created by the use of technology is also part of it.
I read a very compelling case study, I think it was from KPMG, that change has to start with a story of who we are, what we do, and why we’re making a change. Not just the what, not just the acquisition of technology, or your system, software, or hardware. It’s really a lot about why this needs to happen, and clear communication.
Another reason that we see this fails is that it’s not a project that takes three months, six months, or even a year. It’s a journey that is iterative and that will actually last for a long time. There is no clear end. It’s almost like transitioning into a different kind of operating and business paradigm. It can be very depressing, actually. I’m not surprised so many digital transformation efforts fail. It’s not a reason not to do them, it’s just necessary to understand that they’re hard, they’re hard to achieve, and they’re hard to do well.
As I said, it’s not about acquisition of technology, it’s about so much more. Maybe I’m actually mystifying this further, but I do want to really emphasize this, because it’s important to have the strategy and the prioritization. Lots of companies hire outside consultants. I think for charities it’s unavoidable, and I think it’s a good thing but there is an expectation of a silver bullet. There isn’t a silver bullet here. This is hard. There is also no one-size-fits-all solution. So there is an over-reliance on outside consultants and an under-estimation of all the factors that we’ve been talking about.
I’m surprised at how often poor communication throughout this effort is quoted as one of the top reasons why things fail. Because of the pace of change, because of the nature of change, all models of operating – and I think for so many smaller charities it’s the board involvement, for big organizations that are very hierarchical, there are layers of approvals – it’s dissonant with what’s needed here, which is a quick learning, failing, learning, tweaking, rapid decision-making, and things don’t have to be perfect. So the culture of experimentation, risk-taking, and learning, it’s often not present in more traditional industries, or even in bigger industries, which is why usually it’s the smaller organizations that pivot and they do this better than larger ones. It’s important to really understand this, that there has to be a new kind of culture, a new org chart, and a new architecture of communication and decision-making, that is more consistent with the pace of change that we’re seeing all around us.
Idea 2: You need the right technology, and integration is important.
The second idea is that, having said that, you do have to have the right technology, and of course there are basics that so many charities already have. One thing that I often hear about from charities and businesses, and I read about as well in this research that I’m referencing, is the integration between systems. A lot of organizations end up with tons of disparate systems that don’t communicate with each other, and information is hard to transfer between one system to the next. So that’s not scalable. I think it really pays to have the vision of the system or systems integration and architecture ahead of time.
As charities engage in selecting a technology, systems, and software, they should have in mind on how they can integrate their sales technology with their marketing technology, with donor management technology, with online processing, with some collaborative tools that are used internally and so on and so forth. Having a lot of different, disparate systems is flagged as a key obstacle. It’s hard to go back, undo everything. I think it pays to think about it ahead of time.
I actually got tired of quoting US and UK research about digital transformation all the time, because there was no baseline research in Canada about any of this. So at CanadaHelps, we just completed a survey with 1,400 participating charities, because we wanted to see where charities in Canada are when it comes to digital adoption, digital capacity, and digital transformation. We’ll use that as a baseline, and hopefully we’ll be able to do the survey every couple of years to see if the needle gets smoother.
What are some of the key barriers? We did some research, that will be released in May, in which we saw things that correspond with what is seen in UK and US research. Research shows that many charities understand that digital transformation is very important, and that it will be hard for them to operate if they don’t improve their digital capabilities.
Many say that they don’t have enough funding, and they don’t have the skills or expertise to implement change. What surprised me a little, to be honest, because I simply do not see this in the for-profit research, is that quite a few charities say digital transformation is not a top priority. This worries me, but otherwise this is a good survey with a lots of interesting insights. When we will release it in May, the results would be good to share with your board or even with other stakeholders.
Idea 3: You need a clearly defined vision and to address four areas: Internal productivity, donor and customer process, culture and roles, and new service and revenue models.
Idea number three is that your goals and vision have to be set. It’s not just the I.T., and it’s not just donors. It’s really about a few things. The donor relationship and donor management, for instance. I think we understand that. Internal productivity tools, new services, and new revenue models. This is really about adding value through the use of technology, expanding what you do, and then culture and roles.
I don’t have the time to go through all of it, I’m just elaborating on these three areas [donors / customers, internal productivity, and service and revenue models]. When we go to the service and revenue models, this is where I think the real opportunity is. I remember I recently talked to Camp Ooch who now have year-round camp programs, which are not restricted seasonally to summer or geographically to Toronto. There are a few other charities that actually thought about what more they can do, and how they can increase access and remove physical barriers.
This is an interesting third area, where I think after we make sure that our donor management and online donor acquisition and retention is set up the best it can be that we have the data and analytics to filter insights and segments, and really start increasing our sophistication in driving and generating revenue online.
We’ve seen in the pandemic that much like e-commerce has exploded so have online donations. They have really increased dramatically even if the overall giving, sadly, has actually decreased.
Donors and customers, and internal productivity tools are all really about using collaborative tools, creating new levels of transparency, empowering staff and team members or the workforce to actually be decision makers, and to have greater input into what’s happening in the organization. That’s really important. Then comes my favourite [service and revenue tools] which is really about self-disruption and understanding what more your organization can do through the use of technology.
Culture we talked about, again I’m not going to dwell on this. I do want to say that leaders are very important in this transition. Leaders who are capable of leading an organization through this change are the leaders who are excellent with change management and who understand the new kind of philosophy, the new culture, and new sensibilities that are coming with the adoption of digital economy and digitization.
This type of leadership is a lot about agility, rapid decision-making, removing bureaucracy and red tape, and involving employees as well. There is research that says that when employees are given capability to be involved and to generate their own ideas about how digitization can support the business, those organizations are far more likely to report success. Your people believing in change is important.
I cannot over-emphasize how important that is because we assume that everybody’s on board. Organizational resistance is very powerful, and I think communication, involving everyone, and collaborating are all super important.
Idea 4: Change must be resourced.
This of course is completely self-evident to everyone.
Charities are so good at doing a lot with little and surviving on passion, on knowing how to help, serve, and change the world for the better. They often do it with so little.
One of the things I said to a colleague from a for-profit the other day when asked about “what can for-profits learn from charities” was “how to do a lot with little that comes to mind.”
But charities have really under-invested in ourselves. We’re coming out from decades of under-investment in our own capacity, capability, and infrastructure, as well as overall organizational capability to scale results. There is no way that we can embark on this journey without some investment. I just don’t see any other way. I’m not a fundraiser. I don’t know how this case gets made to funders and others, but it absolutely has to happen.
And a big reason this has to happen – and I worry about this – at CanadaHelps we have a really hard time hiring people and paying them market rate. Because, of course, we need the best people to do what we do. Those people are also sought after by for-profit organizations. In this era where everybody considers digital transformation massively important for their survival, all of a sudden, charities will have to compete with hiring digital talent, which is in incredibly high demand. The compensation in this space is literally going through the roof. Many people are really happy to work for a charity. Younger workers will maybe forego the options, maybe they’ll forgo bonuses, but you have to be in the market range for their salaries.
Charities will have a hard time. And it is absolutely established that digital transformation success is more than three times as likely in organizations that actually invest in sufficient digital talent, on top of training everybody and transitioning the current staff. I really don’t know how smaller charities in particular will do this.
I was encouraged to see that the government recognizes everything we’re talking about. The government recognizes this to be true for small- and medium-sized businesses, which I think are somewhat comparable. They have launched Digital Main Street which is, I think, a fairly successful program. In the recently-announced federal budget, Canada announced the Canada Digital Adoption program, which pairs small- and medium-sized businesses with digital volunteers or digital volunteer experts.
Imagine Canada is looking into whether charities will be included in the program, but I think that highly skilled volunteers in the digital technology space would probably be a way to level the playing field.
Idea 5: Go digital or go dark. A sense of urgency and ongoing commitment to digital transformation is critical for future survival and success.
The final idea from this presentation is really “go digital or go dark.” I’ve seen the transformation since my time as a magazine publisher, it’s happening. It doesn’t matter whether we like it or not. The change is not asking us whether it’s good or bad, it is really massive, and it is coming.
The question of being able to transition into this new world is a very big one for charities and, consequently, for civil society in Canada and all of us. I consider it incredibly consequential.
It’s not about eliminating the old. One interesting thing that I read in one article is that companies that were actually aware of this integration between the old and the new, understood it’s not about just about slapping new on top of the old, because there will be a dissonance between the two. It’s about integrating them and then transforming how we operate.
And this article said that when companies were aware of this need to integrate, and that assigned integrator roles to some staff members, they reported better success. This makes absolute sense to me.
Elizabeth – That was absolutely fascinating and so thoughtful. It was also a call to action. It’s really a compelling case that you’ve made about how we need to respond, and actually move fairly quickly, if we want to stay relevant, purposeful, and impactful. Katie Gibson asks – “I wrote an article in Future of Good today, where I argue that we should start to address digital transformation not as an organizational choice, but as a sector imperative, drawing on lessons learned from building a social finance ecosystem. I’d love to hear Marina’s views on how we can accelerate this work at the sector level and build a strong ecosystem.” That’s a big question.
Marina – I couldn’t agree more. I know we’ve all had so many conversations, and I’ve had conversations with Imagine Canada about this. When I see the government recognize this issue with small- and medium-sized businesses, to the point that they’re pouring millions of dollars into programs to help them, they obviously understand the importance of small- and medium-size businesses as the backbone of the economy. But charities are the backbone of the economy as well. It’s just that maybe more people don’t realize that. So we need to educate them, right? I mean, that’s absolutely clear to me. But I don’t know, Katie, I think maybe we need to convene.
Definitely, government support is important. I think creating some collaborative mechanisms would help us fight for our sector. We have to fight that we do this, that we get the help that we need, and that funders recognize that investments need to be made and also that mistakes will be made.
We will learn from our failures. No other sector is more afraid to fail because of funders. Because we can’t fail and share what we learned, because that’s seen as undesirable. I think that’s really worth thinking about. I really love the idea of the ecosystem, because we are the ecosystem. I look at the digital mainstream and I envy it. I just think, wow, this is amazing. Why don’t we have that?
Elizabeth – The ecosystem begins with the individual organizations, in some ways. The next question asks – “how does a very small non-profit with limited resources, but great willingness get started? Are there resources that help develop integrated strategies if there isn’t expertise internally?” So many charities and non-profits are micro-organizations. They’re not just small business. Like they’re 10 people, 15 people. How do you get started when you’re small?
Marina – Yes, you have to get started somehow. I think it is hard. I think you can start by looking at available resources, we have a lots of resources, and I’m hoping that maybe CanadaHelps can do more. I would love to partner with some organizations and create a bit of that kind of learning and training infrastructure that is so badly needed.
Start with something small, getting your board on board, first of all. Then finding some resources to bring some digital expertise in-house, whether it’s outside or inside, and doing a bit of a gap analysis on whether the basics are in place.
I know that my friend and colleague Aine McGlynn is now on her own, and she does what she calls the audit. I really like it, she walked me through it the other day, the audit in everything from tools, to donor-facing, just to create a blueprint of where the organization is currently, and what the path forward could be. This service is very affordable.
Start with some clarity on where your organization currently is, where you might need to go, and how much that can cost initially. Then you can think about raising the money, and figuring out how to execute it. But, yes, it’s hard. However, in some of the studies that I read, small organizations are actually at an advantage because they can move more quickly compared to a massive corporation. They’re actually the worst. They have the worst rate of success. You can imagine why.
Elizabeth – Yes, the change management.
Marina – Change management, yes.
Elizabeth – I think you’ve just touched on it, but – “are there other pacesetter organizations, other than CanadaHelps, in the non-profit sector that are perhaps doing some sharing on learning and leadership in this space? Is there a growing learning community?” Not surprising, this comes from Liz Weaver, who’s all about building learning communities. But do we have the basics of that growing?
Marina – Yes, I think that there are a lot of resources online. There are a lot of technology companies that create fundraising technology, and they all have tons of resources and donor management systems. When I talk to smaller charities, they sometimes say there is so much out there and they don’t know what’s good and what’s not.
I love the idea of a learning collaborative, and maybe establishing a centralized resource where case studies and sharing of the knowledge and resources can take place, as I previously mentioned, like the Digital Main Street. It’s a good idea.
This is a lucrative space for for-profit companies, because everything is going online, including donations. Generally speaking, knowledge about the customer, online acquisition, retention, increasing the value, the lifetime value of a customer, charities actually deal with this terminology, and have been for a long time. There is a lot there, but I don’t know that there is, I’m not aware that there is anything in a kind of more organized fashion. I think it’s a really good idea.
Elizabeth – This is a little bit related. This is from Adam Barrett – “I work with a backbone organization that serves a bunch of non-profits across the country. It’s hard enough pushing for digital transformation at my own organization, let alone aligning data systems metrics across a bevy of other organizations. What are some best practices for doing that? Especially when dealing with many organizations that are frontline and possibly burning out from the pandemic?” It’s a big question.
Marina – I always say that you have to start somewhere, start anywhere, it doesn’t matter. To me, this has become more of a journey that you need to embark on with some courage and forgetting about perfection. Because I don’t know, Adam, what’s involved exactly in what you’re doing, but it sounds exhausting. That sounds like a huge task.
This is why incumbents always fall behind disruptors. Because disruptors don’t have that. They don’t have the legacy. I mean, we have legacy in CanadaHelps. How do you deal with this? You have to start somewhere, you have to start chipping away at it. Prioritize and decide what is the most important thing, then what is the second most important thing.
I think to me, this is a lot about approach, organization, and mindset. When I read all the stories, 70% of all digital transformation efforts fail, and they fail with organizations that had infinitely more resources than charities. So charities need to be smart. We need to prioritize and we need to band together. I really like the idea that we need to create an ecosystem to help ourselves. Maybe we need to circle back and see what that might look like. Then we need to approach government and say, look we deserve the same at minimum as what you are extending to small- and medium-sized businesses, because you recognize what a critical issue this is for them, and charities are in the same boat.
Elizabeth – Yes, absolutely. The next question is – “Not putting the pressure on CanadaHelps, but those in the sector who are leading in this space, how are we advocating for funding with different levels of government, and for funding digital transformation for the non-profit sector?” So I think you just spoke to that, which we need to do.
Marina – I do want to go to the government and I want to point out that Imagine Canada has been doing some of this. We’re just trying to ramp up our services. We’re trying to be there for charities, to be stable, and to be protected. To achieve all of the standards that are now expected from a technology company.
We’re not doing it with investor money. One really excellent organization that creates fundraising technology just raised $120 million from venture investors. For us, it’s really also a matter of prioritization, and I wish that somebody would provide the funds to accelerate some of these things, because I come from many of these kinds of conversations with the same questions. Digital transformation is talked about often, but so many charities really don’t know where to go, who to turn to, where to use consultants, and which ones are good.
We could create a blueprint in an ecosystem of sharing because I think this is really important. Elizabeth you’ve been in the sector far longer than I have. I don’t know how we would get this to go forward with a unified voice to create the blueprint and ask for help for funding. I don’t know how you do this, but I think it’s a really good idea.
Elizabeth – I think it sits somewhere in what Katie was talking about and what Liz was talking about. There’s that coming together around this imperative and sharing intelligence, sharing practice, sharing what has worked, what hasn’t worked.
I don’t know if you want to share Marina, if you’re courageous enough to tell us what didn’t work. I mean, you’re out in front on much of this, were there early days where you did things where you thought that was a mistake? I don’t know if you have anything you want to share about what really doesn’t work.
Marina – Well, you know we’re a pure technology kind of digital organization, that is mostly staffed by people who, like me, came from the for-profit sector to actually do something worthwhile with their lives and their skillset. So we move very quickly. We pivot, we’re very ambitious for an organization that is a charity and is not financed like many other players in the sector are.
I think we do pretty darn well, because we’re smart, we prioritize, and we care so much. I think what charities have going for them, that often businesses don’t have, is their passion and that courage to push through. That stands for a lot.
Looking back at myself as a magazine publisher, I think what I didn’t see was that larger change is required. People always say to me to give them something tactical, or they say that they don’t want to think about culture, that’s so abstract. But we see over and over again, and it’s absolutely in all of the research, underestimating and not having that sense of urgency, and not starting somewhere, this is the thing that can make us so paralyzed, because this is really hard. Starting somewhere is better than not doing anything.
Elizabeth – Absolutely. I think you’ve made the case. It’s transformative, it’s profound. It’s our Industrial Revolution. If you’re not doing it, you’re still going to be riding a horse. So how do we get there? Dan Clement from United Way, Canada asks a great question: “With the emergence of for-profit donor engagement platforms, the potential loss of data can be a challenge for charities. Are you able to comment on this challenge for the charitable sector? Is this something that’s on your radar Marina?”
Marina – Loss of data, as in…?
Elizabeth – I guess in the collection of, as the platform for fundraising isn’t held within, I’m not sure. I don’t know if Dan wants to further comment on that?
Marina – Yes, for sure. There is the underbelly of everything we’re talking about. There is the underbelly of privacy. There is a reason that consumer privacy, and the whole issue of security, exists. Cyber attacks and security have become such a big thing in this space, because they’ve been accelerated to an incredible degree.
We’re entering a whole new world where data privacy, data ownership and sharing, and potentials for hacks happen all the time. The dark side of artificial intelligence is where the inequality algorithms get baked. I think there is the potential that it will create an even more divided world, that favours white collar workers, who are technologically savvy and sophisticated, and furthers inequality. The ethical use of technology and A.I. is a massive concern. With that comes the data.
Addressing that would be a different presentation, but honestly, it’s pretty dark when you start looking into some of the potential fallout. I think there has to be a real effort to understand how the entire society can benefit from technology and artificial intelligence, and how to distribute the benefits equally between different organizations and people. Really, data is a big part of it. I don’t know exactly what Dan had in mind.
Elizabeth – He followed up with – “donor data and insights.” So I guess that’s part of how you inform strategy and going back into the charity to understand who’s supporting your work, and how you can read into some of that. If you don’t own the data, just as you said, owning the data and having access.
Marina – So many of the platforms that are out there, which are driven by consumers wanting to interact with charities, they have a mandate and their own agenda. This is why they need data for their own purposes. I think we’ll probably see a lot more regulations around the use of private data.
Frankly, I’m one of those people who believe that our data should not be used to enrich for-profit companies and their shareholders. There has to be a contract where we don’t have to pay for something but then our data is used. It’s actually not equal, because the amount of revenues that those organizations generate, while we put up with ads, there is much that I’m hoping will come under increased scrutiny and regulation. Europe is a bit ahead on privacy regulations and protection. Because everything is so fragmented, charities have to deal with many different channels. They have data from different channels that have to be integrated. Half of them are really hard to even get to. So it’s not easy. I’m sorry, I feel like I sound really depressing, because that’s every answer that I have. It shouldn’t deter us because what we do is so important. But it’s just hard.
Elizabeth – It’s complex, and there’s a lot to think through. I think that it’s an important reminder that digital transformation isn’t achieved just by flipping the switch. Back to your point, there’s a lot involved in bringing this into your organization and thinking through what the impacts are.
One last question. I’m going to use my own question, which is: earlier on, you talked about that digital transformation is a means of removing barriers. But we’re talking about non-profits and charities and their work is often in programs and services. Are there any lessons about what barriers we may unintentionally be putting up in the digitized space as we digitize what we do, and how we think, and how we operate? Are there risks there that we need to be mindful of?
Marina – For sure. This will be a transition, and I think much as we’re looking at the back-to-work hybrid model, I think this will exist in a hybrid way. In an ideal situation, charities will become better at online donor acquisition and retention, data-driven segmentation, getting more money from donors, and becoming more self-sustainable through a scalable technology-enabled way. They will be able to transition some services to technology that are possible to transition, and many will not be, so they will stay.
It’s possible that some new ideas will come about that could be enabled by technology or not. I would strongly suggest that that becomes one part of it. Hopefully, charities will adopt some productivity tools just to make their staff work better, faster, and with more transparency.
We just have to do the parts that we can, add some, and we have to continue when we’re able to. We know that this pandemic, unfortunately, is just going to have massive collateral damage for people who really can’t afford it the least. Charity work is honestly just going to be so key forever.
Elizabeth – I want to mention Rod Burns, who put something into the Q&A box, which I think is useful for everyone to hear. Ontario’s information privacy commissioner just published its strategic priorities for 2021 to 2025. These include government openness and accountability, empowering citizens with control over their own information, and realizing a just society through data for good. So these are good and promising, so thank you Rod.
I want to say thank you to Marina. That was absolutely fabulous. It was so informative. It was so thoughtful and so timely. I’m really grateful that you made the time to share that with us.
Marina Glogovac is President & CEO of CanadaHelps, a leader in providing fundraising and donation technology to charities and donors since 2000. She is passionate about charities and their essential role in Canada, and about building the capacity of the charitable sector through cutting-edge technology and high-quality education. Under her leadership since 2013, CanadaHelps has rapidly accelerated its growth trajectory, almost tripling the donations it facilitates for charities and dramatically expanding its offerings for both charities and donors.
Marina is an in-demand public speaker and panelist on the topics of digital transformation, social impact, innovation and disruption, and democratization of access to technology in the charitable sector. Marina regularly shares her perspective as a blogger for Huffington Post Canada, and is a past columnist for the Globe and Mail’s Leadership Lab.
Prior to joining CanadaHelps, Marina had a 25-year career in leading e-commerce, technology, and media companies, including as Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Revenue Officer at Lavalife Corp., Chief Marketing Officer at Kobo Inc., Chief Revenue Officer at Dealfind, and Group Publisher for St. Joseph’s Media, including their flagship magazine Toronto Life.
Marina has served on boards or advisory committees for The Walrus Magazine Foundation, Magazines Canada, Interactive Advertising Bureau Canada, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Bridgepoint Health Foundation, and Big Sisters Toronto.
A graduate of the University of Belgrade, Marina also holds a Master’s degree in Education, specializing in Organizational Learning and Change and Strategy Development, from the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).