Digital saves time and makes money for charities

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Stuart Chalmers examines how technologically savvy charities are and what difference digital makes to the running of their organisations

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28th November 2016 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Martha Lane Fox, the executive chair of Doteveryone, the organisation set up to show the possibilities of the internet, is quoted as saying: “Digital technology harnessed positively is a force for social cohesion and community building, as well as economic growth and productivity. But this requires everyone to have the relevant digital skills”.

Increasingly that must include the charity sector.

New analysis of digital up-take and behaviour shows a strengthening link between digital maturity and organisational success and while the overall digital capability levels of charities are rising, 98,000, or 49%, across the UK are operating without basic digital skills.

Stuart Chalmers

Stuart Chalmers

More digitally aware charities are 28% more likely to report an increase in turnover or funding than less digital charities

The third annual Lloyds Bank UK Digital Index, which is supported by Doteveryone and Accenture’s Skills to Succeed programme, sets out a fascinating picture for charities and provides ample evidence that digital can be a force for good.

It shows that more digitally aware charities are 28% more likely to report an increase in turnover or funding than less digital charities. When asked to state the key advantages to being online, over half (52%) of charities cite cost savings, a significant increase from 33% in 2015.

A total of 87% of charities say saving time is one of the key advantages to being online. And most encouragingly, more charities are accepting online donations. with 53% of them now doing so – more than double since 2015.

More charities are also advertising online (60% vs 30% last year), more are taking online payments (34% vs 12% twelve months ago), and 21% are taking orders or making sales online (up from 10% last year).

Interestingly, too, the sector has improved its use of and attitude towards social media over the past 12 months. 72,000 charities (36% vs 23% in 2015) believe a social media presence can help generate higher revenue and donations.

Attracting a younger demographic will also help the longevity of charitable giving. Millennials in particular are likely to respond better through ease of access across digital platforms.

Two clear benefits to being digital emerge for many charities. The largest is wider geographical reach, followed by saving time. If charities can save time, then they can focus on delivering their services and by widening geographical coverage funding and revenues may be more easily sought.

Yet, 43% of charities do not have a website and the report goes on to show that an increasing number of charities are now recognising and stating that a lack of digital skills is a reason for holding back its potential.

72% of charities state that they need to develop digital skills. As cut-backs hit, however, 4 out of 5 charities are still not investing their budget in digital skills, looking instead for more informal and free advice online or from a friend or colleague.

The charity sector is making some major improvements in its digital skills with the overall digital maturity of charities rising by six points on the Lloyds Index in the last 12 months. They have also seen a shift in how they use digital demonstrated by the proportion taking online donations. 

However, what is also clear that we must all continue to support charities in improving their digital capabilities.

Against a backdrop of digital transformation, Accenture sees an exceptional opportunity to make a difference in the communities where we work and live. And as Martha Lane Fox advocates, we must all embrace the technology that continues to reshape our world.

Stuart Chalmers is the SME Banking Lead for Accenture