Number of charities without a digital strategy increases to over half, finds survey

14 Jun 2019 News

The Charity Digital Skills Report 2019, launched yesterday, shows the pace of digital change has slowed over the last three years.

Over half (52 per cent) of charities who responded to a survey have no digital strategy, a rise from 2017 and 2018, when it was 50 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

Only 12 per cent, a lower percentage than 2018, are considering how tech innovations, like AI could change their charity.

54 per cent believe digital can help them support more beneficiaries, down from 57 per cent last year and over 10 per cent less respondents (42 per cent and 54 per cent in 2018) think more digital skills could help volunteer coordination.

Lower percentages also want their leaders and senior teams to understand digital trends and their effects or to have experience or an understanding of digital.

Mims Davies, minister for sport and civil society and Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries said: “We recognise the vital role technology can play in approaching social challenges. 

“For the social sector to take full advantage of the opportunities that digital presents, it needs to be equipped with the right digital skills. 

“There is no doubt that many charities are struggling to use digital tools strategically, which is impacting the growth of the sector." 

Digital priorities

For the first time, the report also considers charities’ priorities over the next year, with 41 per cent wanting to create a strategy and improve digital skills.

Almost half want to use digital to improve service delivery and 42 per cent want to use digital to increase income.

Davies and James said: “Barriers were linked to a lack of funding, time, capacity, or understanding of how to embed digital at the leadership level."

They added: "It is vital that opportunities to build digital skills are available for charities across the country."

‘Digital transformation is not digitisation’

Marie Orpen, head of digital at Guide Dogs said: “There is definitely a strong correlation between the lack of progress and some of the challenges charities have highlighted in this year’s report such as a lack of strategy and resource, low organisational buy-in, infrastructure and pace. 

“Digital transformation is not digitisation, point solutions or procuring the latest shiny bauble.  

“It is strategic change: putting your audience at the heart of everything you do; using technology to solve fundamental problems; learning from the data and innovating.”

Report methodology

The report was produced by the Skills Platform in partnership with Zoe Amar Digital, and a survey received 540 responses.

40 per cent of responses came from digital teams, 34 per cent from communications and 31 per cent from leadership.

30 per cent of responses came from marketing and 18 per cent were from fundraisers.

30 per cent came from charities with an income between £500,000 and £5m, 24 per cent had an income over £10m and 7 per cent had an income less than £10,000.

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