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Insight and advice on how to solve eight common challenges that charities have been working on since lockdown began.

It’s late March 2020. Suddenly, without a choice, thousands of charities are having to shift their services online and get their teams working remotely. 

In response, Catalyst started a lot of new initiatives, including an increased stream of content to help charities with their challenges.

Those challenges don't have an overnight fix. Many charities are still working on them. So here, in one place, are the most useful articles for each of eight key challenges.

1. Leading digital transformation

If you’re a CEO or senior manager then you’ll want to read our tips for leading your charity through a rapid digital transformation. It’s based on solid research, and adapted to the current situation.

2. Choosing tools and software

Since the pandemic started your charity has probably invested in new software. But it’s likely that, as your people’s digital skills grow, you’ll be investing further. We created Assemble to help you choose the right digital tool, and feel good about how you chose it

3. Getting your services online

We believe this is a design challenge, not a technology one. The tech probably already exists, it’s just necessary to understand why design is more important than digital for charities.

Then you’ll want to understand the different approaches to design, especially if you’ve not heard of service design before. 

Then you’ll be ready to get started by learning the skills. We’ve a short, free online course to help you.

4. Delivering online services safely

“How do I make our new online service safe?” has been one of the most common questions asked by charities. 

First, you need to understand how to think about safeguarding when delivering services online

Then you need to implement the processes and practices to minimise risk and train your staff. So we created DigiSafe: a new step-by-step guide to digital safeguarding.

5. Involving users in service development

Suddenly it didn’t seem possible to meaningfully involve users in your services. But actually, there’s a lot of different ways. 

First though we think it’s important to understand about user research and why it is vital to your charity.

Then to learn about the different ways to engage your users in shaping your online services - when you can't go and meet them.

6. Fixing your website

The pandemic has made some charities realise their website isn’t fit to support digital service delivery. 

First we’d recommend learning about design (see above). 

Then read about how to build websites without needing to code. Because it’s possible you won’t need to code anything.

But there’s another trick too. That’s in how to use content design to help people access your services more easily.

7. Creating human connection with your users, online

When lockdown began, thousands of vulnerable people lost those small moments of connection with people in their community. For some, other connections sprung up. But many also relied on charities for the warm hellos, caring smiles and feelings of welcome and acceptance. 

We’re learning that it's possible to still create those connections over digital services. Deepr created ten principles for creating more human connection online. Then they launched a whole framework and 40 tools that any charity can use for free. 

8. Understanding data

Digital transformation isn’t just about digital and design. It’s also about data. The pandemic has shown how important good data is to understanding what is happening and mitigating future risks. But the sector is under-served in support and skills to make use of the data it generates. That’s why we’re calling for a data collective.

Getting more support

Sure, we’ve not covered every pandemic-driven challenge, nor everything that a full digital transformation would include. But there’s more help available. 

Here are some places to go for free support.

And here’s some tips on selecting a digital agency, when you need more hands-on support. 

If you need something else

We’re keen to hear about it. Then we can write about it. Then you and other people can read it. Contact us.

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