The Rise of Digital Trustees
17 December 2018 | By Laura Gabe
Following on from Cause4’s response to the Charity Digital Code of Practice, we wanted to expand the discussion on the need and the role of Digital Trustees in charities today.
In March this year, Charity Digital Skills reported that 69% of charities think that their Trustees are lacking digital expertise. Not only that, but a third of charities reported that the lack of understanding or buy-in from Trustees is one of the biggest barriers to their organisation getting the most from digital platforms and opportunities. With the lack of digital experience and knowledge, charities are increasingly concerned about missing out on opportunities for digital fundraising and the inability to reach its audiences. This inevitably leads to the risk of looking and feeling irrelevant within this digital age without an accessible online presence to show the charity’s hard work.
The time for digital is now: the release of the Charity Digital Code of Practice shows how there are more digital fundraising opportunities than ever before. Recently the Mayor of London launched thirty-five contactless TAP London donation points to help charities combat homelessness and the Blue Cross launched its TAP campaign offering people to pat the dogs whilst simultaneously tapping contactless card machines. The idea of the ‘cashless society’ is becoming more and more of a reality. Earlier this year, the Guardian reported that “in 2006, 62% of all payments in the UK were made using cash, in 2016 the proportion had fallen to 40%. By 2026, it is predicted cash will be used for just 21% of payments”. Old-school donation tins are becoming a thing of the past in this digital movement and Trustees need confidence to explore new areas.
In 2016, the Charity Commission published the “12 questions about digital for Trustees” document to encourage digital progression for charities across the country. The document reported that 3.4 billion people across the world were using the internet in 2016 but in just two years this has increased to 4.2 billion users.
Lloyds Charity Digital Index reported that “digital usage is at an all-time high, 99% of SMEs and charities are now online. In 2014, 8% of SMEs and 24% of charities were offline.” This is proving that charities are finally getting involved with the digital movement and are actively having a presence online. But to ensure sustainable success in this area it is important to reflect this progression and development in the Board of Trustees.
When it comes to putting together your charity’s Board of Trustees The Charity Governance Code recommends ensuring that a Board consider the skills, knowledge and experience of the individuals that it needs to govern and lead the charity effectively. By having a balanced mix of skills among Board members, this ensures all areas of the charity’s needs are accounted for. Along with the traditional skills audit finding Trustees with financial, legal and marketing backgrounds – it’s now vital to also think about Trustees with skills in digital.
For charities that are interested in adding a Digital Trustee to their Boards, Reach Volunteering published helpful tips in recruiting the right person for the role, including how to promote the role and identify the best candidate. On the other hand, if you are a tech-savvy individual that is interested in offering vital expertise to a charity or cause close to your heart, the Cause4 Trustee Leadership Programme can support you in gaining the skills you need to becoming a Trustee.
Let’s make sure that charities don’t get left behind in the fast-moving digital age that we live in. Tech savvy Trustees will help lead the charge.