It’s Official, the Digital Collective is GO.

Last week, the digital collective became a thing here at World Vision.

Here’s the official announcement…

International development charity World Vision has appointed award-winning digital entrepreneur Martin Francis Campbell as CIO to lead the new approach, which aims to bring the principles and practices of fast-growing digital startups to the charity’s online fundraising efforts.

“We’ve invested significantly in digital technology, analytics and in the decision to recruit a top level CIO” said Tim Pilkington, Chief Executive, “but as we face the challenges ahead, our ability to do digital really well is going to be crucial to us in rising to meet the increased expectations of our donors and our beneficiaries”.

This week, World Vision launched the initiative to its UK staff, who will be undertaking training in entrepreneurial agile development as well as working with fast-growing UK startups to learn first-hand how the charity can benefit from agile methods.  The charity is launching a new cross-functional team The Digital Collective which will work across the organisation’s existing structures – gaining the flexibility and speed that modern startups experience in the gig-economy.

“One of the biggest challenges,” says Campbell, “is that technology has moved relentlessly forward over the last decade, and charities are struggling to keep up.” A long-term professional in the charity fundraising space, Campbell took time out from the sector over the last few years in order to reconnect with the start of the art and build a new big-data startup in the fin-tech space.  “What I learned from building another startup,” he says, “was that an organisation that’s prepared to use inexpensive, digital tools can move far, far faster than was possible even five years ago.  I was able to build a new team and a new digital product in an entirely new market and achieve an eight-figure valuation within eighteen months of incorporating the company.  That’s the kind of growth that would transform any charity’s fundraising and service delivery, but the skills and experience to do it largely aren’t present in the sector.”

As well as bringing the skills and methodology from the world of digital startups, Campbell is embracing open learning in his approach to leading the Digital Collective.  “When I started working in the charity sector twenty years ago, folks were complaining that charities are too siloed.  The only way out of that is to work in the open, share data, share performance measures openly, and share decision making.  We’re adopting that within the collective at World Vision, which is open to all, and we’re also sharing the progress that we make with the rest of the sector, both through our participation with initiatives like the charity digital code the nonprofit common data model, and also through sharing our own progress, warts and all with the sector at digitalcollective.org.uk.”

Asked why he thinks this approach is necessary, Campbell responds: “if we’re going to remain relevant and able to do our essential work, the charity sector needs to adopt not just the technology, but also the practices, culture and business models of the internet era.  So I hope that World Vision’s contribution to the conversation will help us all to achieve that.”

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