Charity Digital Skills Report 2018 - A Reaction

23 March 2018 | By Cause4 staff

In 2017, The Skills Platform and Zoe Amar of Zoe Amar Communications co-wrote The Charity Digital Skills Report, to help understand the digital needs of the charity sector.

Unfortunately, the findings of this report were somewhat concerning and showed a lack of dedication from the sector to digital change. The report showed that 50% of charities don’t have a digital strategy, whilst only 27% have aligned their digital and organisational needs. This lack of focus can be seen in the fact that less than one in four of the charities surveyed rated themselves as good at digital and 71% said that the digital skills of their Board were poor.

Despite the negatives, the report has enabled the sector to look at digital innovation as an opportunity, with 86% of respondents articulating their desire to work for a digitally progressive charity and 68% of charities believing that digital will change the charity sector to a great extent.

A year on, and a second report has been published. The results have conjured up some improvements, but there is still a lot to be done. Currently, 45% of charities don’t have a digital strategy and 32% of charities have aligned their digital and organisational needs, an improvement of 5% in both areas. Additionally, when looking at the competencies of the Board, results show that 69% believe the digital skills of the Board are poor, sadly showing a reduction of a mere 2%.

So against this backdrop of minimal positive change, what further changes need to be made to ensure we are being digitally savvy, and why is being digitally savvy so important?

The importance of digital

In terms of fundraising, the case for digital is clear, with 93% of donors using a smartphone or tablet, and online donations having jumped by 80% since 2013. A YouGov poll also found that one in three people would be more likely to donate through contactless technology. A finding backed up in 2016, when 11 charities partnered with Barclaycard for a four-month contactless donation trial. The NSPCC, one of the participating charities, found that the average contactless donation was £3.07, compared to the £1 cash donation.

Digital is also a clear avenue to pursue for charities who want to raise awareness. The WWF’s recent #LastSelfie campaign is a phenomenal example of the power of digital. WWF Snapchat followers received a #LastSelfie, which featured a picture of an endangered species with a caption such as “in 10 seconds I’ll be gone forever, but you can still save my kind #LastSelfie”. After one week, 40,000 tweets hit 120 million twitter timelines, meaning 50% of all active twitter users were exposed to it. With headlines in more than 6 languages #LastSelfie raised global awareness, and in just three days WWF reached its donation target for the entire month.

Room for Improvement

As Dan Sutch of the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology states “digital is often the first channel people use. If important charity services aren’t accessible via digital, they’ll be hidden by the services that are.”

Here are our top tips on how to overcome these challenges to become a digitally savvy charity:

  • Do a skills audit – assess yours and your team’s level of digital expertise and identify areas for improvement. Once the skills gaps have been identified, invest in training to make the change.
  • Lead from the top – As with many elements of the charity sector, digital innovation needs to be driven by Trustees. If the Board buys-in, everyone will buy-in.
  • Get inspired – Digital doesn’t have to be boring, make it enjoyable by researching the latest innovations and trends, and engage in digital debates.
  • Break it down – Digital can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be – putting a plan in place and breaking things down step by step can really help.
  • Make online donating easy – Do you have a donate button on your website and once it is clicked, is it easy to set up a donation? Complicated platforms are unbelievably off-putting. Make donating quick, simple and enjoyable.
  • Ensure your website is mobile friendly – With more and more people primarily using their phones and tablets, it is imperative that charities’ websites are small screen friendly.

How digital savvy is your charity? What changes do we need to implement? Let us know @OfficialCause4



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