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Charities Urged to Engage With Digital Technology

13 June 2018 at 2:20 pm
Luke Michael
Charities and not for profits need to engage with digital technology or “be left behind” according to Vision Australia, which has recently received more than $4 million to support a digital transformation initiative.

Luke Michael | 13 June 2018 at 2:20 pm


Charities Urged to Engage With Digital Technology
13 June 2018 at 2:20 pm

Charities and not for profits need to engage with digital technology or “be left behind” according to Vision Australia, which has recently received more than $4 million to support a digital transformation initiative.       

The Wicking Trust, managed by Equity Trustees, announced a $4.4 million commitment over four years to support Vision Australia last Friday.

The Trust was established in 2002 from the will of John Wicking, and now distributes more than $4 million annually in grants.

Equity Trustees’ managing director, Mick O’Brien, said this commitment to Vision Australia continued the legacy of the Wicking family.

“Equity Trustees is proud to manage the legacy of John and Janet Wicking, who together were successful, active, generous people. They left behind the J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust and entrusted Equity Trustees to manage their legacy in perpetuity,” O’Brien said.

John Wicking had a prolonged involvement with Vision Australia beginning in 1961, when he volunteered to help with the organisation’s fundraising.

His will included instructions to provide the charity with ongoing funds, and this latest donation will be used to support Vision Australia’s “digital transformation”.

Jodi Kennedy, Equity Trustees’ general manager of charitable trusts and philanthropy said: “Part of the digital transformation of Vision Australia included an earlier philanthropic grant from the Wicking Trust to begin digitising its ‘talking’ library.

“Around 30,000 books are now available for download, and more are being added every year making them more accessible to more people who are blind or have low vision.

“This latest project grant will assist Vision Australia to implement a digital transformation program to co-design more innovative products and services with their clients, and empower staff to deliver superior customer service.”

Vision Australia strategic program manager Damien McCormack, told Pro Bono News that the charity was “extremely grateful” to receive the grant.

“The consideration of John and Janet Wicking in supporting our work is testament to their ongoing commitment to supporting people who are blind or have low vision to live the lives they choose,” McCormack said.

McCormack said it was essential for charities and not for profits to engage in digital transformation.

“Digital disruption is affecting all industries – think Uber, AirBnB – and the not-for-profit and disability sector is not immune to this, we need to engage or be left behind or be ill-prepared to compete with new entrants into the market,” he said.

“Technologies offer new ways to deliver customer focused products and services.”

As part of the transformation, Vision Australia will provide a virtual reality experience designed to raise awareness of vision loss with both family members and the general community.

McCormack said this would help to empower Vision Australia’s workforce and enhance the service experience.

“Virtual reality provides a deep, engaging experience of the impacts of vision loss compared to the previous option of cardboard glasses; through digital channels we can create engaging experiences that connect people more closely with the services they are receiving,” he said.

“Empowering our workforce with technology tools and access to customer information enhances the service experience, makes it more personalised and relevant, and delivers efficiencies around administration and billing processes meaning our staff can focus on working with our clients.”

O’Brien added that this grant showed the ability for the Wicking’s to “empower change well beyond their lifetimes”.

“Our role as trustee is to make sure their philanthropic vision lives on, making a real difference and empowering change. Equity Trustees sees our role managing the Wicking Trust, and promoting the work it supports, as a real privilege,” he said.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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