More than half (56%) of charities now have a digital strategy, according to a new report.
The Charity Digital Skills Report 2022, which collected data from 435 charity professionals between March and May, found that most respondents (82%) saw digital as a greater priority at their organisations since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
It found demand for digital services is also high, with 48% of charities seeing an increase in demand. A total of 73% charities were delivering services on platforms such as Zoom, Facebook or Slack.
Over half (53%) had started offering new online services and 21% expanded their delivery areas since moving online. This is less than in 2021, when the report found 83% had started to offer online services.
Consistent with last year’s report, charities see improving their digital image through their website, online presence and social media as their biggest priority. More than two thirds (68%) saw this as a pressing issue.
More than half of charities (52%) rated themselves as excellent in using digital for communications, which has increased by 11% from last year.
Barriers to progress
Despite this, charities still faced several barriers to digital progress. In 2021’s report, the need for funding for devices, software and infrastructure came third, but has came first in this year’s report, with 40% of charities requiring more funding. The second biggest challenge is upskilling staff and volunteers, an issue faced by 38% of charities. Almost a third (29%) said they need funding for core members of staff for digital, and/or someone to lead on digital.
Inclusion remained a challenge, as a quarter of charities said they did not have diverse teams developing digital products. Over a third, 35%, said increasing the diversity of service users was a priority for their organisation.
‘Progress needs to accelerate as we enter Covid-19 recovery’
Co-author of the report Zoe Amar said: “Over the five years since launching the Charity Digital Skills Report, it is clear there has been some real incremental change and progress in a digital landscape which was suddenly accelerated in response to the pandemic. However, as we enter recovery, it’s important that progress is accelerated, and the starkest challenge seems to be funding. Digital needs to be funded more effectively across the sector to increase impact. We are therefore asking funders to sign up to our Funders’ Pledge to help charities build organisational capacity and resilience.”
Patrick O’Kelly learning and development manager at The Clothworkers’ Foundation, also called for more funding for charities.
He said: “Digital continues to be a priority for charities coming out of the pandemic with demand for digital services still high. Funders are a key part of enabling charities to deliver safe, inclusive and effective services, and to harness the other benefits of digital for impact. The Clothworkers’ Foundation will continue to consider applications for digital hardware under our Open Grants Programme, and we are exploring how we can adapt our funding to help charities progress with their digital needs now and in the future.”
Samir Pater, chief executive at Comic Relief, added: “The survey findings reveal that many organisations still need extensive support in digital skills, infrastructure and delivery. Funders have a vital role to play in supporting charities on their digital journeys – from simple changes to application guidance, to creating the space for exploring new approaches and tools.”