SCVO Blog: Digital Change at ACOSVO

ACOSVO first entered the SCVO Digital ecosystem through the Digital Checkup tool, and from here were able to talk about their ideas and vision for their digital strategy.


Through finding SCVO Digital Senior Leaders to partner with after their initial support they were inspired to see what could be achieved by fully embracing their digital potential.


What kind of challenges/obstacles did you face at the start of the process?

Like many third sector organisations we thought we were embracing technology …..but when we looked deeper we found we were only scratching the surface.  Our rolling programme of replacing hardware/software on an incremental basis fitted gentle improvement/growth but was limiting productivity and sapping capacity.  To deliver a better membership experience and achieve the growth we wanted we needed a step change in output, and after discussion with our Board we decided the way to achieve this was to fully embrace the potential of technology and strongly invest in the future.    


What changes have you have made?

While still very much on the digital change journey and some way from reaching our destination (do we ever really get there?), investment in a state of the art CRM system, fully serviced external IT support, backed by accelerated investment in a dynamic hardware/software replacement processes is resulting in significant improvement.  Combined with a revamp of our website and better use of Microsoft 365/SharePoint, ACOSVO is now able to integrate/automate processes and generate increased organisational capacity and efficiency thereby enhancing membership experience.


Specifically the transition includes:

  • Chief Officer participation in Scottish Government Digital Champions Programme
  • Engagement as Third Sector Cyber Catalyst (to share knowledge, learning and solutions across sector)
  • Accreditation to Cyber Essentials standard (identifying fundamental technical security controls)
  • Investment in Salesforce CRM system (focussed toward membership and events management)
  • Move to larger office to enable expansion
  • Provision of External IT support
  • Migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10
  • Transition to Microsoft 365 E3 Licenses (monthly payments with automatic software updates)
  • Finance and Design processes moved to on-line systems (monthly payments with automatic software updates)
  • Introduction of new anti-virus and fraud software
  • SharePoint clean up – including creation of separate Board and staff sites
  • Website review and refresh
  • Using team ACOSVO buy in to drive change (through use of database software such as AirTable; staff becoming Salesforce ‘power users’)


What steps did you go through to get there?

At the start of the process it was important to not only consider what to upgrade, but how and when, so that a realistic, coherent programme could be developed and costed.  Key to this was liaising with experts/others who have been through a similar process and then, as the plan evolved, gaining buy in from Board followed by colleagues and members.  Change is always uncomfortable, with both planned and unplanned bumps along the way, but with forethought and careful briefing, training and preparation these can be minimised.  


What benefits have you have realised or expect to realise in the near future?

Some of the benefits are obvious – ensuring ACOSVO is cyber safe and GDPR compliant, streamlining processes, moving from standalone spreadsheets to an integrated way of working; but others, such as ability to present and analyse data to enhance strategic, operational and tactical oversight and utilising inherent knowledge within our team are only just becoming apparent and are still to be explored fully.  Downstream, we are hopeful that the extra capacity generated through this investment and by doing things better/more efficiently will ensure colleagues can spend more time focussing on the things that really matter – the support of third sector leaders. 


How has help from SCVO helped with the process?

SCVO assistance and signposting were key in this process but partnering with leaders who had participated in the Digital Champions Programme was perhaps the real catalyst, opening our eyes to the art of the possible.  Subsequent assistance, liaison and discussions with SCVO IT experts were used to solidify our ideas and ensure we were able to get cost effective solutions.  One of the most useful benefits was being able to quiz leaders of organisations who were going through similar change – and here the advice/ideas generated from a meeting with ACOSVO and SCVO member Emma Whitlock, LEAD Scotland must be mentioned.  This was truly inspirational, demonstrating in physical and practical terms what could be achieved by fully embracing digital technology – many thanks Emma!   


Any insights you might have for other charities thinking about similar changes?

Some organisations have digital tactical delivery right but lack courageous leadership and the skills to take that next step to truly transform their culture and ways of operation.  Whilst ACOSVO are certainly not experts in this area, our journey shows that digital change is possible over time, with careful planning, liaison with those who are experts/have been through the journey, and with the correct resource and support.  Our journey so far has shown that: strong leadership; positive attitude; careful insight, detailed planning, allocation of realistic budget, focus on service delivery; staff awareness, training and development are the key issues to consider.


Good luck to you on your Digital Change journey.


Andy Dey

Business Manager



To see the full official article on the SCVO website, please click here