Meet … Jo Wolfe, MD for London at social enterprise Reason Digital

'The thing that appeals to me about the co-operative movement is having a different model and a different way of doing things in the world and creating change'

Jo oversees the digital agency’s work with charities based in the south of England. She has over 10 years’ experience as a digital leader in the charity sector, most recently as assistant director of digital for Breast Cancer Care, where she developed innovative online support services. Jo also helped create the Third Sector Digital Maturity Matrix – to date the tool has helped almost 800 charities understand their current digital capability and set new goals for the future. She is a keynote speaker at the forthcoming Social Business Wales conference hosted by the Wales Co-operative Centre on 5 October.

Why did you take on the role at Reason Digital?

Reason Digital works with charities to help them understand what they want to achieve through digital. I joined recently after working in the in-house charity sector at Girlguiding and Breast Cancer Care. My reason for joining is to do with wanting to create more change within the charity sector as a whole. It felt like the best way to do that was by joining an organisation dedicated to that change. Lots of charities are on a journey around digital and they need to mature and improve how they do things. By working in a dedicated organisation I think I can maximise the help I can offer.

Why is digital so important?

We live in a digital age – the revolution has happened. But while we are feeling the effects of that in many positive ways, some people struggle with it and there are still many opportunities for charities in improving how they deliver their services.

Digital has the potential to reach far wider numbers of people with care and support tools and is also a great way of opening new income streams. A lot of my career was heading in this direction. The Digital Maturity Matrix has helped nearly 800 charities achieve better digital capability. It was hard to maintain that overview while being embedded in one organisation but now I can work collaboratively.

What does a typical day entail?

I was appointed to set up our new London office at Kings Cross. The HQ of Reason Digital is in Manchester, and will continue to be. However, it’s a reality that most charities’ HQs are in London, so we have taken the step of opening an office.

I go to a lot of events and most days I will be talking to senior leaders of different charities, such as Age UK or the Terence Higgins Trust, which are two of our existing clients. Every day I talk to clients about their plans, organise meetings with people thinking of working with us – and we are always working on new ways of developing digital impact – for example, our charity shop donation app, ‘Gone For Good’.

What is the best thing about the job?

It feels like a perfect fit for me. There are a lot of things I am excited about, particularly forming networks to create real change and being able to focus around collaboration and partnership. It’s by bringing all those things together that we make the biggest change.

Related: Meet… Alex Sobel, Labour/Co-op MP for Leeds North West

What is the hardest thing about the job?

Some charities are still to be persuaded of the value of digital. I feel that working offline and face-to-face delivery is still very vital because we are human and have personal relationships. However, it’s tricky when  charities refuse to acknowledge that digital can have real benefits.

What achievement are you proudest of?

Something that I continue to be really pleased about is my involvement in the development of the Digital Maturity Matrix. The NCVO (National Council of Voluntary Organisations) has now taken this over. I will continue to work on it but others in the sector can also volunteer their time so its future is guaranteed, which is great.

Where would you like to see Reason Digital in the next five years?

In five years’ time we want to be the first choice partner for any charity wanting to do good through digital. We will also be moving forward on a number of different products of our own which will create real digital change within the sector, like Oxfam’s Gone For Good donation app.

What’s your relationship with the co-op movement ?

On a personal level the thing that appeals to me about the co-operative movement is having a different model and a different way of doing things in the world to create change. At Reason Digital our biggest experience of the co-operative model is around our work with housing associations. I hope there will be more ways to work collaboratively in the future – I think that the forthcoming Social Business Wales conference will be a great way to start doing that.

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