We live in a digital era – almost every aspect of our lives is in some way connected to the internet. When it comes to the charity sector, the way in which we volunteer and donate to causes has also been affected, but many organisations have struggled to keep up. Without digitally transforming, charities can’t adequately prepare for the future, or take advantage of the many promises held there, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
A lack of digital strategy
Only 50 per cent of charities have a digital strategy in place, and less than one in 10 have gone through digital transformation. There is a plethora of reasons for this delay, which could include a lack of understanding at board level, but the biggest barriers are perhaps caused by lacking the right resources and digital skills. Worryingly, government funding is decreasing, and public giving has gone stagnant. That means that charities must find new, innovative ways to raise capital.
Digital transformation holds the key to this, opening up fundraising beyond collection tins and legacy donations. Mobile apps and crowdfunding platforms are just two options for tech-savvy charities, as well as an increased social media presence allowing for greater interactivity with donors and a greater audience reach.
This can often be easier said than done, however, with these avenues needing both time and resources to be explored. However, for those organisation that have little to spare, there is plenty of support available from tutorials to help build digital skills, to guides for setting up digital strategies and a code of practice. Because there is such a wealth of information available, it can be tough to navigate and digest – and so we’ve amalgamated six key resources worth considering if you’re looking for guidance in your digital transformation.
The Charity Digital Code of Practice launched in late 2018 with the sole aim of improving the digital capabilities of charity leaders. This expansive guide was created in collaboration with many leading bodies in the charity and technology sector, including the Tech Trust, the Charity Commission, CAST and NCVO. It contains information that will give you a good grounding in the basic digital principles and how to make your technological transformation a success.
The Clear Lesson Foundation has partnered with leading private companies Aviva, River Island and Costa Coffee, as well as the Good Things Foundation to create training videos. This free resource offers an effective way to upskill employees and volunteers in digital techniques, among other things, with more than 1,400 videos available to users in topics ranging from tech skills to management capabilities.
To help charities design better digital services, CAST has outlined 10 digital design principles as best-practice. These start from outlining user needs and understanding the current landscape, to then cover inclusivity and privacy before finishing up with the importance of collaboration. This step-by-step guide is a great way to initiate your digital transformation, acting as incremental instructions that can be followed easily.
This organisation links charities with training providers and e-learning resources on a range of topics, from data governance to user experience and digital project management. Some of these are paid-for, which can be limiting, but are designed to be affordable for charities.
The Skills Platform also creates free resources for charities, including the Charity Digital Toolkit. This guide gives leaders a grounding in digital fundamentals, and includes inspiration and case studies from huge names like Martha Lane Fox – the Government's digital champion and executive chair of doteveryone.org.uk – and Steve Armstrong from Marie Curie. It’s aimed at everyone within a charity, from frontline staff to senior leaders and trustees, giving you the ability to upskill at every level of the organisation.
The Charity IT Association (CITA) offers specialist IT consultancy for charities on a volunteer basis, covering everything from basic set-up to hands-on help and scoping digital projects. Their offering is limited in parts, with time restrictions on many of their services, but getting their insight can be a valuable stepping to if you’re stuck at a dead end and not sure where to head next.
This online resource is free to NCVO members, who in turn gain access to a range of how-to guides and e-learning resources. It covers many topics, including volunteering, risk management, building teams and, of course, digital skills. There is also a tool to measure the existing digital skills within your charity to help you gain an understanding of where you are starting from, and templates to draft digital strategies and skill development programmes.
Time to go digital
With so many tools and resources available, there is no better time for charities to go digital. Despite popular belief, it doesn’t have to be expensive and is a near certainty to pay-off in the long term. Those who fail to ride the crest of the wave and go digital now will find themselves lost at sea, struggling to attract donors and volunteers in the not-so-distant future. With everyone online, can your charity afford not to be?
Digital provides the opportunity to take your charity’s offering to the next level, and we have experience in dealing with boards of charities to get them onside, allowing them to understand the importance of investing in technology. To book your free, 30-minute consultation call, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling the office on 01225 220155.