What digital transformation looks like at the American Red Cross–and how it can make a difference for nonprofits across the country

Digital transformation often aims to increase both efficiency and profitability by using artificial intelligence to automate repetitive tasks, allowing human employees to focus on high-level challenges. than. While these technology upgrades require an upfront investment, corporations believe they will pay off in the long run through improved performance and financial returns.

But what motivates a nonprofit to pursue digital transformation? By definition, a nonprofit should not be concerned with maximizing revenue and profit margins. In theory, we should feel less urgency to pursue some of the same technologies implemented by profit-seeking corporations.

At my organization, the American Red Cross, we recognize that digital transformation efforts have played a huge role in our ability to carry out our mission. While we are not interested in maximizing profits, our pursuit of technology, innovation and efficiency enables us to maximize our ability to manage donated resources and produce good results. more for those in need.

Streamline fundraising

Humanitarian organizations like the American Red Cross continuously raise funds to help those in need. However, the rate at which people donate can be unpredictable. Nonprofits with critical humanitarian missions often see their donations skyrocket in response to a major disaster. And while that stream of public support is critical to delivering needed aid, it also puts immediate pressure on the nonprofit’s technology systems.

We call these differences in donation rates the “blue sky” and “gray sky” periods. In times of blue skies, there are few major disasters that require a humanitarian response. We see a relatively low contribution steady. During periods of gray skies, when we see people donate in response to one or more disasters, donations go up dramatically—as does our web traffic. The difference can be staggering: A year with many major disasters can have four to five times more donations than a blue-sky year with the fewest crises.

Of course, we hope every year the sky is clear and there is no tragedy. However, the reality of the situation is that our organization must prepare for both extremes. A year of blue skies will be easier to handle from a bandwidth standpoint but will leave us with less financial resources to complete our mission. A year of gray skies will challenge our team to keep up with humanitarian needs while keeping our online systems running smoothly. Digital Transformation helps streamline operations during blue skies (ensuring that every dollar donated goes further) and predicts traffic spikes associated with sky periods grey.

Our ability to facilitate donations has a direct impact on how much help we can manage in times of crisis. If we can improve the performance of our fundraising pages, the result will be more blankets, water bottles, food, and supplies for those who need them most.

The most important aspect of our organization’s digital transformation is preparing for a sudden increase in traffic. Immediately after a major disaster, the American Red Cross IT team can have as little as 30 minutes to prepare for a massive spike in traffic. In some cases, our traffic grew 30x—an entire month’s traffic in just one day.

To help manage these high-traffic events, the American Red Cross has implemented observable tools to track increases and allocate resources accordingly. These solutions make it possible for our IT team to avoid bottlenecks and improve our overall site performance, prevent emergency outages, and deliver faster load times when everything something more stable.

Take advantage of new opportunities

Leading services like our Blood Donor app and systems that mobilize millions of volunteers across the country make it possible for us to deliver aid more quickly and efficiently to those in need .

American Red Cross investments in digital transformation have resulted in the creation of a new voter support platform through which disaster-affected people can submit requests for financial assistance and, if eligible, receive digital payments from the American Red Cross through our Instant Assistance program.

This platform has streamlined our business processes, allowing us to help those in need much faster, with greater privacy and security, and more efficiently transition to long-term support and support services.

It’s time for nonprofits to embrace the benefits of digital transformation. Innovative technologies shouldn’t be exclusive to large corporations – we can all bring our organizations into the 21st century and deliver the best possible outcomes for those who need your support. we.

With world news dominated by climate change, conflict and global pandemics, the work of nonprofits has never been more important. If nonprofits can commit to digital transformation – and if leading technology companies can advance these efforts with in-kind support – we can dramatically increase Good work is being done to help those who need it most.

Matthew Cascio is the head of digital transformation at the American Red Cross.

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