10 no-cost, high impact digital changes you can make today

By John Fitzgerald on 2nd Mar 2021

Right across the voluntary sector, organisations have moved faster and further than ever with digital change. But with squeezed budgets and stretched capacity, it can be very hard to know where to start. 

Here are 10 steps you can try now, that require no additional budget, just a small amount of time which will be paid back in spades. 

  1. Get onto a cloud-based platform like Microsoft Office 365 or Google’s G Suite. Cloud-based collaboration and document storage is an absolute must for remote working. Both Microsoft and Google offer very capable basic versions free to charities.
  1. Do some user research. Digital services are only useful when they meet user needs. To find out what your users need, you need to do some testing, or talk to them. Skipping user research means you risk spending time and money building the wrong thing. 
  1. Try out a ‘skateboard’. A ‘skateboard’ is a low-cost, low-risk prototype that enables users to try out a basic version of your service. It doesn’t need to have all the ‘bells and whistles’ but it does need to be an end-to-end service. Testing out a ‘skateboard’ gives you valuable user insights before you commit lots of time and budget. A skateboard could be recording a screen share during an online meeting to turn into a basic video, or using an off-the-shelf survey tool like Google forms.
  1. Try integrating two or more bits of tech to give a better service: ‘do the hard work so your user’s don’t have to’. For example, combine an online booking service like along with email reminders. This means your service users can book appointments more easily, and they get a reminder of what they need before a meeting.  
  1. Take some basic cyber security precautions. Moving lots of activity and services online means that we are more vulnerable to cyber attack. Taking the first basic steps to improving your cyber security is much easier than you think, and it will protect you against the most common threats. 
  1. Take some time as a team to think about how you communicate and collaborate, and whether you could do it better. We’ve all been on a very steep learning curve with remote working, adopting new tools and techniques very quickly. But why not take some time to think about how you could work better? For example, using asynchronous discussion threads rather than back-to-back Zoom meetings. Digital tools are very flexible, but you need to be clear about your priorities and parameters to use them well. 
  1. Ditch dodgy stats or confusing metrics, and go back to your core aims to generate some key questions. Then use these key questions to guide your approach to gathering data. Starting with your core strategic questions means that data you gather will be meaningful and relevant. 
  1. Review your core content and repackage it in bitesized chunks that meet your user’s needs (that’s how I wrote this blog). Lots of organisations spend time accumulating insights, then hide them in a PDF on their website. Users tend to want information in small, relevant chunks, so make sure your information can be discovered and accessed more easily
  1. Commit to trying one or two new things at a time and continuously improving, rather than trying to do it all at once. When you feel behind the curve with digital, it can feel like you need to fix everything at once. But this is not realistic – you’re better off making a roadmap or sequence of changes, so that you can work effectively. The effort/value matrix is a useful model from the tech industry. 
  1. Carve out a bit of time to review your progress, and do some research on what other people are doing. You can learn so much from other people’s mistakes! 

All of these take a bit of time, so don’t feel you need to do all of them! But why not try 2 or 3? They won’t cost you any money, and they will help you make some real progress on your digital journey.