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October 15, 2020

More than half of charities lack a digital strategy, skills report finds

Shortage of funding and poor digital skills among employees named as the biggest barriers to digital maturity.

By Cristina Lago

Fifty-one percent of UK charities do not have a digital strategy in place, the 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report has found.

The report, which surveyed 429 charity professionals from charities across the UK, also found 2% are struggling with the basics of digitisation and remain predominantly paper-based.

The results are a scant improvement from last year’s survey, where 52% of respondents said they did not have a digital strategy in place – whether a standalone strategy or integrated with the wider organisation.

“Like many organisations, charities’ use of digital has evolved organically and understandably some may not have the resource to invest in creating a strategic approach to digital, especially if they are smaller organisations,” said Zoe Amar, founder of Zoe Amar Digital and co-author of the report.

Among the greatest obstacles faced by charities in their digital progress, the report participants highlighted lack of funding (50%), inadequate digital skills among staff (48%), and lack of digital confidence within the organisation (47%).

Tree Hall, CEO of Charity IT Leaders, an IT network for the UK charity and not-for-profit sector, said that it’s important to set the challenges identified in the report against the tools and resources available for charities to address them.

“What is hugely encouraging and is borne out through many conversations with our members, is that most charities are committed to developing their digital engagement,” Hall told Tech Monitor.

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“Whether huge household names or small organisations with only one or two staff, the will and commitment is there, even if the capacity is more limited.”

Amar and Hall recommended the use of an increasing range of resources, many of them free, which can help cash-strapped charities to overcome digital challenges. These include platforms such as Catalyst, Charity Digital and The Charity Digital Code of Practice.

“Here at Charity IT Leaders, we facilitate our member organisations sharing knowledge and skills, and enabling them to maximise the opportunities from their digital investment,” said Hall.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a wake-up call to many organisations, including in the charity sector, who have realised that to survive in an aggressively competitive market and a recession economy, digital transformation should be high on the board agenda.

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