Q&A with the Head of Digital at Diabetes UK, Said Dajani

Q&A with the Head of Digital at Diabetes UK, Said Dajani

Written by Lauren Howells on Fri 11 Nov 2016


Name: Said Dajani
Title: Head of Digital
Organisation: Diabetes UK

What does your role involve?

I am the Head of Digital at Diabetes UK and manage a team of 11 that covers digital project management, content management, digital marketing, social media, analytics, and UX.  I also lead on mHealth and the use of technology by people with diabetes.  I have one of those great jobs where you don’t really have a typical day, which is good because I get bored easily!

What are the biggest challenges you come up against within your role?

There are a thousand and one opportunities out there and it is really important that you stay focused on your core objectives. That means investing in things as part of a long term plan. While it is good to be opportunistic that can’t be at the expense of the long term vision.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the not-for-profit sector?

Data is the sector’s biggest challenge.  It is also our biggest opportunity.  It is not just increasing regulation (although that has focused minds), commercial organisations with bigger budgets than ours are also struggling to integrate data from multiple channels and platforms.

But the prize if we get it right, will be that we really do understand our audience(s) and then can deliver as personalised an experience to each of them as possible.

That takes us to the sectors second biggest challenge. Content.  If each of your audiences needs different content, even only slightly different, you end up having to produce a lot of content and that isn’t always an easy thing to resource. 

What's in your toolkit? What sites or tools do you love?

I love Podio.  It is a great communication and project management tool that is free for charities but Google Analytics would have to be the tool I use most.  Twitter is my home on social but I also edit a magazine on flipboard called charity.digital

Which events or meetups do you attend for learning and knowledge share?

Things are busy in the office and we in digital aren’t getting out much, one of the reasons we decided to host the last NFP Tweet Up and forthcoming Barcamp NonProfit event at our new office in Aldgate. I also like to go to the Heads of Digital meetup that Charity Comms organise. If you are interested in digital and the charity sector there are no shortage of events to choose from, including those from TWB!

Whose work in the not-for-profit sector inspires you?

Most recently I liked the campaign Twitter did with BHF for the ‘Restart a Heart Day’, really effective.  When it comes to charity websites I have a fond spot for the Anthony Nolan website which has I think has really clear user journeys and the new Unicef site looks good. Sometimes though it is not the latest fad that is inspiring. I have now been involved with two health charity forums, ‘Talking Point’ at Alzheimer’s Society and our own forum at Diabetes UK and the support people give to each other is truly inspiring. 

Whose work outside the not-for-profit sector inspires you?

I am a gamer and as my family will attest spend far too much time playing a game called Robocraft, in which, unsurprisingly you build and then fight robots. It has been really interesting watching the development of the game from the really early days to now as it heads towards full release.

When it comes to news the Guardian’s consistent investment in digital really shows and Duo Lingo’s beautiful UX is consistently pleasing.

I am not sure inspired is the right word but am also impressed by Amazon and their single minded focus on building the Prime offering, just no drones please.

How do you see Diabetes UK developing digitally over the next year?

We, like many charities will need to move away from the big funnel approach (get them in and hope a percentage donate) and instead focus on retention and building a community.

In our case that means getting people to engage with their diabetes as well as with us.  It is a big challenge and will mean we have to move from an approach that has up until now being largely product led to one that is clearly focused on our users.    

What new technologies are you excited about?

Technology is changing the way people manage their diabetes and can for some people make life a lot easier.  At Diabetes UK we funded some of the work around the artificial pancreas which although not a cure is a really exciting development.  

What new technology offers the biggest opportunity for fundraising for not-for-profits?

Managing permissions across multiple platforms is going to be a huge thing for us in the sector and people will expect to be able to do so in a way that is clear and transparent.  My hope is that it also proves to be an opportunity for charities to re-engage with those who want to hear from us, rebuild trust and build deeper more personalised relationship with our supporters.