Louise Sparks: A Digital Future- The Status of UK Fundraising 2021

14 Oct 2021 Expert insight

Louise Sparks from Blackbaud summarises the findings from its latest research

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Digitally mature organisations are the most successful. We’ve seen this coming for a while, and we’ve heard the phrase ‘digital transformation’ spoken across the social good community for a number of years. And now in our latest research at Blackbaud Europe we have found a clear link between the success of a non-profit and the level of digital maturity that organisation has.

The Status of UK Fundraising Benchmark Report 2021, released at the beginning of October, is a must-read body of research based on the responses of over 1000 non-profit professionals to questions on the topic of charitable income, supporters, fundraising in the pandemic, and digital transformation. This is the fourth year we have published the report, and the findings this year are more interesting and insightful than ever following what has been a challenging time, to say the least.

Following an earlier piece of research (the Future of Work – you can read it here) that found that 64% of non-profits were planning to invest in more technology as a direct result of the pandemic, and 42% of non-profit leaders said they were planning to begin a digital transformation project – we chose to focus on digital in the 2021 Status of UK Fundraising survey questions. 

Charity professionals were asked to give themselves a score out of 10 to rate how digitally mature they considered themselves. A score of 10 would indicate a fully digitally mature organisation, one in which digital tools and technology are integrated across every part of it. The report found that:

  • Overall, the sector rates itself as 5 out of 10 for digital maturity, demonstrating that there is a lot of potential for growth for many organisations
  • 79% of survey respondents told us that it’s important for organisations to develop digital maturity
  • Over 60% of respondents agree technology is used to improve the way their organisation operates (63%); digital transformation is critical to success (63%) and data is used to improve performance (62%).

By asking respondents to the survey to score themselves, we found overall there are four distinct categories when it comes to how far along the digital maturity journey non-profits are:

  1. Digital Sceptics – These are digitally immature organisations who do not believe digital transformation is important. 
  2. Digital Rookies – Digitally immature organisations that do think that digital transformation is important.
  3. Digital Adopters – Digitally maturing organisations that rate themselves as 6 or 7 out of 10.
  4. Digital Experts – They are digitally mature organisations.

Only 12% of non-profits reported that they consider themselves digitally mature – and interestingly – throughout the survey, these same organisations are the ones that also told us they are seeing success in every area we asked about.

Our Digital Experts:

  • have fundraising strategies and digital strategies designed in collaboration with the whole organisation 
  • track the effectiveness of their fundraising 
  • are gaining more supporters than they are losing 
  • are optimistic that they will reach new audiences 

71% of Digital Experts reported that they are optimistic their organisations will meet fundraising targets in the next 12-18 months, compared to only 42% of Digital Sceptics. 

And the report also found there is a correlation between digital maturity and income growth and decline. Almost half (49%) of our Digital Rookies reported that their income decreased compared with only a third of the Digital Adopters and Digital Experts (34%).

The findings of the survey also show that organisations that use CRM systems are more successful at supporter acquisition, with those who use CRM software more likely to say they are gaining more supporters than they are losing (43% vs 38% of those who don’t use a CRM system).

For the 39% of organisations who rate themselves as ‘Digital Adopters’ and are almost there with their digital transformation, but are struggling with the final stretch, and the 35% of ‘Digital Rookie’ non-profits, who haven’t started their journey yet but understand the power of digital – the message is, keep going! It’s an investment that pays off and will bring in countless rewards for your organisation.

Louise Sparks is Content Editor, Blackbaud Europe, to read the full report, you can download it for free now here


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