Removing the Digital Mask: Aligning Strategy and Digital Transformation in Not-For-Profits

Removing the Digital Mask: Aligning Strategy and Digital Transformation in Not-For-Profits

Published 17/04/24 under:

In the realm of not-for-profit organisations, strategic leaders and digital pioneers stand at a crossroads. The question looms: should digital transformation be a priority amidst other transformational changes, or is it merely a supportive player in a broader strategic narrative?

The Challenge of Limited Resources

Charities, tasked with the judicious use of funds, face a daunting challenge. The cost-of-living crisis has prompted a worrying trend: 1 in 7 donors are stepping back from their charitable commitments. This financial strain is echoed in the operational budgets of these organisations, with a significant portion now reallocating funds away from its digital initiatives. A survey by Charity Digital Skills paints a stark picture: 30% of charities have curtailed their digital tool expenditure, and 10% are stopping digital projects.

Redefining ‘Digital Transformation’

The term ‘Digital Transformation’ often conjures images of technological upheaval. Yet, it is not the technology itself that drives change but rather the strategic vision it enables. In this digital age, a transformation devoid of a digital component is incomplete. It is the strategy that propels change, suggesting that perhaps we should consider these initiatives as ‘Strategic Transformations’ to more accurately reflect their true nature.

The ‘Why’ Behind Transformation

Simon Sinek’s influential work “Start with Why” illuminates the path for organisations embarking on transformative journeys. The ‘Why’ is the beacon that guides the way—the vision of what the organisation aspires to become or the problem it seeks to solve. Technology is the ‘What’—the tools that enable the realisation of the ‘Why’. It is not the ‘How’, which is the method by which the business fulfils its vision, and so therefore, along with people and processes, is only a part of the solution. Recognising this distinction is crucial, as it shifts the focus from adopting new technologies to understanding the purpose behind the transformation itself.

Event: Unmasking Transformation in Not-For-Profit: Is ‘Digital’ just a Distraction?

Join us for an insightful webinar where we will explore a fresh perspective on Digital Transformation to help gain buy-in and commitment from organisational leadership, staff and volunteers!

Sign up now!

Aligning with Intrinsic Motivation

For charities and not-for-profit organisations, the ‘Why’—the mission or cause—is often a stronger motivator than financial incentives. By starting with ‘Why’, these organisations can tap into the intrinsic motivation that fuels a culture of purpose-driven change. This approach is particularly resonant in the not-for-profit sector, aligning with the mission-oriented nature and the altruistic inclinations of the workforce.  By doing this, we can not only secure the investment, but engage the people in the need for change.

Finding the ‘Why’

The ‘Why’ will be found within one of the three primary drivers for transformation: ‘Survival’, ‘Ambition’, and ‘Values’. And by starting here, the true purpose can be identified.

  • Survival (Means): In an ever-evolving landscape, survival is about adaptation. Organisations must embrace transformation to meet new challenges and seize opportunities, ensuring their continued relevance and impact. This could mean diversifying funding sources or restructuring operations to be more efficient. Survival isn’t just about maintaining the status quo, but about evolving to meet new challenges and opportunities. For instance, rapid adoption of remote and hybrid working patterns had to be enabled by an equally quick shift to virtual operations and delivery of collaboration tools.
  • Ambition (Ends): Ambition propels organisations to reach beyond their grasp. It’s the drive to expand influence, serve more beneficiaries, and make a more significant difference in the world. Not-for-profit organisations and charities are mission-driven and aim to make a significant positive difference. This ambition can lead to innovative programmes, partnerships, and strategies that amplify their impact. For example, an organisation with the ambition to eradicate homelessness might not only provide shelter but also address underlying issues like unemployment and mental health.
  • Values (Ways): Values are the guiding principles that shape an organisation’s approach to how it works. They guide every decision and action within the organisation, ensuring alignment with the mission and vision. Values might include integrity, transparency, inclusivity, and stewardship. They ensure that the organisation’s practices reflect its purpose. For instance, many organisations value sustainability in their operations, perhaps by minimising waste or using renewable energy sources.


Digital transformation in the not-for-profit sector is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. By removing the ‘digital mask,’ organisations can reveal the strategic intent behind their digital efforts. Aligning strategy with digital tools, driven by Survival, Ambition, and Values, ensures that transformation leads to meaningful and sustainable change.

What are the main drivers for change in your organisation?

How are you achieving the buy-in at all levels for your ‘Digital’ transformation?

Get in touch to re-assess your digital transformation!


Charity Digital – Topics – How charities are responding to the cost-of-living crisis

Charity-Digital-Skills-Report-2023.pdf (

Start With ‘Why’ – TED Talk from Simon Sinek

35-Legnerova-Katerina-paper.pdf (

Is Your Organization Surviving Change — or Thriving in It? (

The science behind successful organizational transformations | McKinsey

us-cfo-insights-crafting-your-transformation-ambition.pdf (

Have a question?

Leave your details and a member of the team will be in touch to help.

"*" indicates required fields

By pressing send, you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Explore all our upcoming events! View all

Worth Digital

is now part of Kerv

In a continued effort to ensure we offer our customers the very best in knowledge and skills, Kerv has acquired Worth Digital.