Tiago Spagolla

Founder & CEO  @ Nine One Nine

Simone Radaelli

Andrea Lemma

Digitization in recent years, has also involved, sectors originally linked to traditional PR. How do you combine the world of charity donations – which has always been in limbo between those who do it with great visibility and those who prefer secrecy – with the digital world, which provides an immediate echo to whatever happens?

“A very exciting question! I am very familiar with the world of foundations and NGOs, which is why I, fortunately, have daily insights into the development of this sector. What I observe is that foundations and the rest of the NGOs are becoming more and more like companies in terms of marketing, PR, digitization, etc.

I think this is a good development that should be adopted more often, especially in smaller foundations and NGOs. Why? Thinking and acting in company-like structures fits better with the thinking and acting of the masses. Young people in particular are engaged and involved at an advanced digital level by large companies as well as smaller firms and grow up in precisely that environment. These are the same young people that will be the donors of tomorrow. So, why not lean into a more digital strategy and combine the physical, more personal world with the digital one?

The recent Corona virus pandemic showed us all that foundations (for example) need to develop their digital advances quicker. The usual foundation gala had its day during this time. New ways had to be found to reach donors and draw attention to projects. In the last 2-3 years, in particular, there has been a clear shift towards more digital strategies, which have paid off to date. By “digital”, I am referring specifically to social media, donation platforms, donor experience, and international projects. Likewise, for traditional PR, in the digital world you can have both: great visibility as well as secrecy.”

Do you think there are further technological evolutions ready to support and boost this sector? Could big blockchain & NFTs themes have a strong impact on the charity world?

“I am convinced that Blockchain as well as the NFT space will increasingly find their way into the NGO sector. However, if we assume that the NGO sector is always 1-3 years behind the private sector in its development, the adaptation of further digital processes such as Blockchain or NFTs will still take some time.

Despite the slowly growing adoption of digitization in the sector, there are already some NGOs that organize auctions in the still-fresh Metaverse to raise funds. There are also opportunities to participate in projects from various foundations with common cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple. Being rewarded for donations with NFTs of varying value will at some point be just as normal as hanging around auctions in Web 3.0 (Metaverse) – or whatever it will be called by then.

From my perspective and as for now, with a slight smirk on my face and a little wink, I can say that foundations and NGOs will have to get more involved in what platforms and opportunities they can use to appeal to younger audiences. At some point, the people who are still handing you 50 euro at the front door for charity will no longer be alive.”

If we think of the Charity world, great fundraising events automatically come to mind. During lockdown, this classic method required important evolutions and a decisive turn towards digital. Now that we have returned to a normal “life”, do you think that we will gradually return to our origins, or has digital technology offered opportunities that are unmissable today?

“As painful and far-reaching as the pandemic was, it has led to a rethink in many places in terms of digitization. Despite my opinion that foundations and NGOs should increasingly consider clear digital strategies, I also believe that we shouldn’t ignore the old and the tried and tested! The traditional way of giving through physical fundraisers such as galas, knocking on doors, collecting at train stations, etc. is still working and more money is being raised through physical donation letters than one can imagine. Nevertheless, it is noticeable that digital alternatives can also reduce our CO2 footprint and adapt to changing markets faster and we do not have to physically send hundreds of thousands of letters, envelopes, and bills to potential donors.

What I’m trying to say is: there isn’t just one way. There should be several to reach different audiences. Where a carrier pigeon used to be sent, later a letter was handed over directly by the post office. Where letters were sent, a fax message later reached you. How many fax machines do you come across in everyday life when you’re not working in a museum of communications? Probably not that many anymore. E-mails have overtaken fax messages and short messages via WhatsApp and Co. have overtaken e-mails in some parts of life also. There will always be the next new thing in the digital world. However, the goal is to adapt to moving markets and not to stand still.”

Regarding work life, which Apps do you use every day? What means of communication do you think is the most effective for exchanges with the team and work partners? Tell us about your digital routine before starting work and when you finish the working day.

“Apps that I use daily are WhatsApp, Outlook, and all kinds of Social Media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.). I work with them and manage client profiles there, but I also like to be updated myself. In terms of communication, I am a huge fan of short, scheduled video calls to fix problems or discuss any matter. I also appreciate working together via apps such as Google Drive, Trello, or Slack. My digital routine is probably not one I would recommend, because I start my day by checking all clients’ social media accounts in bed. After that, I go through my e-mails during breakfast and prioritize them for later. This is also a good way for me to check if I can get some phone or video calls in on my way to work. I will then work through all my e-mails, work on client projects and check in on social media accounts midday. In the afternoon I normally don’t plan any meetings, because I like the time to work on unexpected requests or do further work on client projects. I will also update the work status on projects on different working apps such as Trello, Google Drive, or Slack within my team or with partners throughout the day. In the evening I once more check all social media accounts, try to answer all e-mails, and start prioritizing for the next day. Whenever I have downtime, I like to watch short educational YouTube videos or do a non-digital activity such as breathwork.”

23 March 2023