No matter their size or the cause that drives them, long-term grants are essential for organisations in the voluntary sector in ensuring financial sustainability. Against a backdrop of slow economic growth, however, significant reforms to the shape of government spending has made securing such contracts an unfair fight for organisations on the smaller end of the scale.
Forced to compete in a “shockingly complicated” tendering process against large organisations who, by contrast, can offer an evidence-backed guarantee to support their vision, smaller charities are under pressure to innovate in order to inspire investment. At a time where the services of the voluntary sector have reached peak demand, however, the need for constant innovation as a means to win the hearts and minds of grant funders and local councils can make for a challenging environment for charity leaders. This is where long-term contracts can make all the difference.
In absence of significant evidence, funding decisions will ultimately be shaped by the efficiency of a charity finance department and their ability to allocate resources effectively. With this in mind, a robust sustainability strategy that harnesses technology to enhance operational efficiency and lower overheads can serve as reassurance that your organisation is both forward-thinking and financially astute. Of course, the success of a digital project rests on its approach and execution.
The key to competitive digital transformation is commitment. Instead of trying to be at the forefront of innovation and impress grant funders with a stream of new schemes, dedicating the time and resources a digital project requires to truly revolutionise your operations will put your charity in a much better position to secure long-term funding.
In many cases, organisations will buy in to a digital project only to have a change of staff several months into the implementation. Naturally, the project suffers or stalls completely when priorities shift and new strategies are devised by new members of staff. New solutions quickly become half-completed projects that are left to collect dust, preventing the organisation from ever feeling its true potential.
If they are to break the cycle of short-term contracts and secure a lifeline in the form of funding, charities must see digital projects not as a silver bullet solution but as a journey towards efficiency – one that continues irrespective of personnel.
With a cloud-based accounting ERP, charities can benefit from a holistic view of their income and expenditure. Armed with this level of business intelligence, finance staff can identify weaknesses in spend and make data-driven decisions in their marketing strategies, allowing a charity with even a modest turnover to compete on a bigger foothold.
What’s more, a solution that tracks all payments digitally in the cloud allows for heightened accountability, reducing the risk of insider fraud and mismanaged funds by creating alerts on inconsistencies. This creates an advantage in itself – after all, there’s no question that transparency is a major point of attraction for grant-funders.
At Xledger, we help our third sector clients to execute digital projects by providing constant care, advice and assistance in tweaking the software to suit the organisational needs. While new ideas and concepts are critical to spearheading change, committing to the digitisation of your finance department and accountancy process is essential in laying down the foundation for sustainability.