Digital Skills Toolkit: Expert advice to digitally advance your non-profit

08 Mar 2022 Expert insight

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Mystified by the words ‘digital transformation’? Baffled at how to get your digital abilities up to scratch? Well, you’re not alone. In research carried out by Blackbaud last year, a massive 88% of non-profit organisations said they didn’t consider themselves to be where they wanted or needed to be digitally.

With the help of sector experts, we’ve created the new Digital Skills Toolkit, designed to share practical advice and tips for non-profits looking to upskill.

The Status of UK Fundraising Report surveyed over 1000 non-profit professionals and showed that only one in ten organisations believed themselves to be true digital experts. Significantly, these organisations are also the most successful at retaining supporters, reaching new audiences and generating fundraising income.

So, what is happening with the other 88%? That’s a huge majority of organisations failing to become digitally advanced, and in turn, are missing out on all the proven benefits that come from being digitally mature. From the research, non-profits tell us there are three main challenges to advancing digitally:

  1. Lack of budget for digital
  2. Lack of digital skills
  3. Lack of digital leadership

For the new Digital Skills Toolkit, we spoke to experts in the social good sector and focused on those specific areas.

How to: Create a Digital Strategy

In the Status of UK Fundraising Report, 45% of organisations told us they do not have a digital strategy.

And the most digitally immature organisations were least likely to have a digital strategy – so in this guide, we asked Zoe Amar, founder and director
of Zoe Amar Digital, to share her tips on how to get started with creating one.

“Depending on where you’re at, developing a digital strategy can feel daunting or exciting, and sometimes a mixture of both”, explains Zoe. “However, it is a manageable process and done right, can bring colleagues together to create a shared understanding of your charity’s digital strengths and weaknesses, and what the future looks like.”

In the Toolkit, Zoe discusses how to begin by benchmarking your organisation to see where you are starting from, looking at what skills are already within the organisation, and talking to supporters and donors.

How to: Build a Business Case for Digital Investment at your Non-Profit Organisation

Our research found that 65% of non-profit organisations had no apparent budget for tools and systems, and 59% said they had no budget for developing skills. 39% said no one was pushing a digital agenda at their organisation, and 33% said their leadership did not understand digital.

We asked Matt Smith, Head of Development and Innovation at THINK, the leading international consultancy dedicated to not-for-profit fundraising
to advise on how to build a business case for investment in digital.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the non-profit sector has been profound. With public-facing fundraising disrupted, events cancelled and continued uncertainty as to what the future may bring. How, where and when we work has been disrupted for nearly two years now and a host of business experts believe that many of these changes will be permanent shifts to how we all work”, said Matt.

“However, there have also been significant opportunities – with new technologies, trends and increasingly interactive ways to support service users and engage donors. The pace of change in the digital environment is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Therefore, making a timely and strategic investment in new products, platforms and processes are more important than ever.”

Matt’s guide in the Toolkit demonstrates how to take steps to get buy-in for digital investment – including how to set appropriate goals, internal comms planning and where to look for support.

How to: Use Data to Improve Fundraising

Over half of all non-profit organisations said they lack digital skills, so we asked data analyst, Susie Mullen to explain how understanding data is crucial in improving your digital knowledge.

“Understanding donor behaviour is critical to fundraising success and we can’t understand donor behaviour with any level of certainty without analysing the data we collect as part of the giving process”, explains Susie.

“Fundraising data analysis does not need to be complex, in fact, if we want the findings of our analysis to drive a change, the findings should be clear and simple.”

In the Toolkit, Susie shares the crucial data points you need to look at to make your fundraising more successful, including getting to grips with the basics, and knowing how to ask the right questions.

You can download the full Digital Skills Toolkit now:      


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