Deniz’s Digital Surgery: Upskilling in Digital
12th February by Deniz Hassan
Last month we announced the launch of ‘Deniz’s Digital Surgery’ with an offer of advice on digital programmes and deveolopment from Deniz Hassan, lead of the global digital fundraising team at the UN World Food Programme and founder of Clockwork Pie, the UK's first digital fundraising agency.
After sharing his thoughts in January on the pitfalls of digital attribution programmes, Deniz has answered our first call for help from a fundraiser with a common and increasing ailment: how can I upskill (quickly) in digital without breaking the bank or being bamboozled? And what do you do if your own organisation can’t support this learning?
I am keen to develop my career in fundraising and have recently been going up for more senior jobs (as there are no opportunities in my current charity). Whilst I have a strong track record in developing and implementing really successful individual giving programmes my digital experience is thin - sadly I’ve lost out on some great opportunities because of this. How can I get the experience and exposure I need in this area without breaking the bank or being completely baffled? My current organisation is pretty underdeveloped in digital and I fear that I have been de-skilled over the past 3 years, hence the need to make a personal investment. I am not a spring chicken btw and find this whole area a little intimidating. Help!
First, while you get comfortable on the couch, you’ll be very relieved to hear you’re not sailing these choppy waters alone. My ears get tickled by a lot of senior IG-ers who say pretty much the same thing – “I want to know more about digital”.
But the question I have for you Tony, is just how much do you want this? I’m not going lie to you…you’re not gonna get anything free an’ easy (either in $ or sweat) other than a bunch of buzzwords. Now, don’t get me wrong, you can do a reasonably cheap course and learn some surface level tactics that might get an ‘ooooh’ and an ‘ahhh’ from your directors (and for years people have got away with this sort of thing). But would I let you loose on a digitally lead individual giving programme? No chance.
Without putting too fine a point on it, a day down in the digital marshes can regularly involve setting up/optimising campaigns over five different ad platforms; setting up clean data flow from those platforms; QA-ing said data to ensure everything is accurate; writing creative briefs; editing a video to work across all platforms across multiple markets; scheduling organic content; responding to all sorts of comments on social; making decisions where to spend your next $ in the knowledge that every second that passes you could be wasting money. Oh and then reporting on all of the above. I think you probably get the point.
If you’re an IG all rounder you need to understand how big the shift is even just to get a good working knowledge. Fifteen years into this game and I’m still reading, learning and applying new things every day. This isn’t even what you need to do to be brilliant; it’s what you need to do to simply survive. It’s time, effort and opportunity. If you’re at an organisation that’s behind the curve then you’re not in the ideal spot because you won’t have much time or opportunity because, as a senior manager you’ll have too much other stuff on and you won’t be able to focus on learning.
The other way to look at this is from a point of view of how your organisation and role could grow and learn with you. If you want to continue being an IG all rounder then you will need digital skills, no doubt. A course in ‘how to do digital’ will tick a box and assuming that the person interviewing you knows as much as you do, it may get you that job at interview. Deep down you will know that you don’t have the credibility and depth that you need to really drive a digital programme. And the team you will be leading will know this. To put it finely - you are likely to be busted. So... think about how you can work closely with your current organisation to move them towards a greater understanding in why (not how) digital needs to play a central part in your IG plans, then everyone benefits. Because there is no doubt that this needs to happen for both parties. In this way you would need to invest in people that would allow you to learn through sharing and doing. You would have the time and opportunity to learn the new skills you desperately want.
Photo by Mark Williams on Unsplash