Subscribers | Charities Management magazine | No. 132 Early Summer 2020 | Page 8
The magazine for charity managers and trustees

Prioritising digital asset management

We all know how important it is to demonstrate impact to donors. This can be achieved in terms of the number of projects funded and various measures of change delivered. But what about productivity? How do you and your donors know that your charity is working in the most efficient way, and trust that time is not being wasted either knowingly or unknowingly?

Just like any business, smooth administration and good organisation are a necessity for charities, but in today’s digital world processes can quickly become outdated. A rapidly growing inefficiency is the poor management of digital content – or to put it in everyday language – the organisation of the thousands of folders and files in your charity.

Let’s rewind a decade. Yes, having a high performance website, a strong marketing engine across several channels and a good grasp of social media were all imperative. But no matter the charity, none were dealing with anywhere near the same volume of content as they do today. The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, apps, high speed internet, social media, and video – not to mention the swelling of email and brands’ constant battling for our attention – have changed the way we live and work.

Charities didn’t produce, nor monitor, nor manage the same volume of digital content as they do today. And nor did fundraisers or other partners. In a relatively short space of time things have exploded!

“So what?” I hear you ask.

Much time lost

Last year, UK market research specialists Sapio looked at the impact of digital content on marketing teams of all sizes. The survey found that an average of 13 days per team member is lost every year due to hunting for digital assets and filing content. From images and graphics, to videos, presentations, documents, spreadsheets and design files – charity teams have to handle an ever-increasing volume of digital assets.

Typically charities have small marketing teams, but have to manage a huge volume of visuals. For example, photographs and clips are regularly sent in from all over the country or around the world. Keeping on top of this, and being able to find all these files quickly at a later date has become burdensome.

It’s typical for teams to use shared servers or Dropbox-style services and content is often not centralised to be contributed to or accessed by staff in multiple locations. It can also be a struggle to share the right assets with the press, as well as important donors. And how can you keep a live log of who has downloaded these without increasing admin?

Digital asset management’s role

The importance of being able to demonstrate impact to donors is critical for a charity. I speak from personal experience here as I previously worked in procurement for the RSPCA. Impact consistently had a bearing on our decision-making criteria.

Adopting software – especially that which has already been popularised in the commercial world – can help you to demonstrate you are forward-thinking and investing for long term gain and support recruitment of new talent who expect these tools in the workplace. Furthermore, it can have an immediate positive impact on performance, contributing toward the enhanced output of a team for all to see.

Digital asset management (DAM) does this. It is dedicated software to help you consistently store digital assets online, so they can easily be found and shared. It makes life much easier for internal teams and enables fast, secure access for outside parties too. This could include volunteers and partners, as well as suppliers and venues.

Working in the same way

Managing files in this way requires everybody within the charity, and even your outside partners, to work in the same way so that the security, organisation and searchability of digital assets is consistent. It empowers everyone to quickly find what they’re looking for, saving long searches and the distraction of colleagues, meaning more time is spent focused on what really matters.

As a result, a wide range of charities are currently adopting DAM. These range from youth-focused organisations such as the Scouts, through to research organisations like the Institute for Cancer Research. No matter whether you’re the World Health Organisation or a community-based charity, today’s DAM can help unleash your team’s full potential.

Cost viability for a charity

While digital asset management (DAM) software has been around in different guises for many years, its shift from on-premise installation to the cloud has opened up use to many more organisations including charities. The evolution to web browser-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) means you no longer have to host the software on your own server, nor bear responsibility for infrastructure and updates.

But hold on – what on earth does this mean for the untechnical majority of us? Well in the past, DAM was very much the preserve of big corporate organisations which could afford to implement such software across their staff computers. It required an on-site IT team to install and then update this on a continual basis. Smaller and cost-sensitive organisations faced a huge barrier.

New cloud-based DAM changes the game – now any charity can benefit from state-of-the-art DAM functionality at an operationally viable price point.

There is no need for IT support, nor any requirement to make latest security or version updates. All your files are secure and accessible online and it’s very simple to use without the need for training to get started.

Anyone can download the software and be granted appropriate access to save, search and share files. Being a web browser-based tool makes it far more accessible, particularly for charities with dispersed teams or fundraisers using their own computers, and it relieves pressure on your own IT network.

A benefit of SaaS is that it’s often subscription-based and pricing is dependent on several factors, including how many users will benefit from the tool. This makes it a viable solution for charities of any size. Another advantage of SaaS is that as new features and functionality are regularly added, users have immediate access to these.

Advantages of DAM for charities

FAST SETUP. A typical barrier to introducing new software is the internal education process needed to ensure successful adoption. Modern digital asset management offers an intuitive user interface meaning most can use it right away with little or no training. With easy importing you can easily move content from a shared server into your DAM library in minutes.

GET EVERYONE WORKING IN THE SAME WAY. No more saving to desktops, shared servers or bulging Dropbox and Google Drive accounts. DAM software requires everyone to save files in the same secure way, to be discoverable by others. And when new staff or volunteers join, it immediately supports knowledge sharing. Existing assets can easily be found by new joiners, avoiding duplication of effort. Everybody can see the latest versions of files in real-time to assist version control and avoid duplication of files.

PROVIDE SECURE ACCESS TO THIRD PARTIES. You may work with agencies, freelancers and volunteers. And you may at times scale up your team thanks to funding injections from significant donations or grants, and therefore bring in temporary staff to provide extra resource or expertise. Sharing the correct files these people need can be time-consuming. It may not be appropriate to grant full access to a shared drive or folder, but neither is it desirable to have to regularly split files into multiple folders.

Approved access only

With DAM, admins can allow an approved individual or team access to only the assets you require them to have. Not only is this quick, it helps maintain the security of assets, especially around campaign launches or private fundraising activities.

INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGIES. Searching for files and filtering results has been revolutionised by using tags, keywords, custom fields and metadata. Being able to search by file size and other factors – for example, by which photographer, designer or document creator – also speeds up searches. Facial recognition technology means you can, for example, find every picture featuring a particular ambassador in an instant, no matter how many different locations these were originally saved in.

Google Chrome and Microsoft Office plugins let your users search your media library without leaving their browser-based email, document or presentation. Integration with design programmes, including Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, allows faster editing. File saves are synced with the centralised DAM storage system, so everyone else immediately has access to the latest version. Daily workflow time-saving quickly adds up.

WHITE LABELLING. Customising the appearance of your DAM platform with your charity’s own branding is very popular. This means your files reside in what appears to be a natural extension of your internal intranet or external website, rather than being hosted by a third party such as Google, Dropbox or WeTransfer. Furthermore, charities can easily create branded portals for media and supporters to download campaign materials.

Software easy to introduce

You can be up and running with a DAM solution in hours. Easy importing allows you to effortlessly upload content from your shared server and other locations into your new online DAM library. A good setup example is facial recognition. You can tag one photograph with the individual’s name, and then be amazed as the technology does the work and instantly finds all photography featuring that person.

A common concern is the time it can take to train staff to use new software, but the best DAM providers offer an intuitive user interface, meaning most people can use it right away with little or no training.

DAM software is hosted on the likes of Amazon Web Services. This not only ensures excellent security and reliability, but means storage capacity can grow with your business requirements. Once DAM is introduced into a charity it’s often adopted widely once the benefits are clear for all to see.

Seamless to integrate

As you consider what new technology and software will make the greatest difference to the performance of your team, consider: what will be seamless to integrate; what can be used immediately by all; and what can naturally scale with your operations? The more productive your team can be, the more effective both your fundraising and subsequent delivery – and ultimately, the greater the impact on your cause. If donors see the results of greater productivity for themselves they’ll know the charity they support is a very well managed one.

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