Charities still struggling to embrace digital technology

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The 2018 Charity Digital Skills report has shown that progress in the sector improving its digital capabilities is slow

16th March 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Almost half of charities are still struggling to embrace technology.

The 2018 Charity Digital Skills Report reveals that 45% of charities do not have a digital strategy.

More than 500 organisations responded to the annual survey, which generally showed only slight progress in the sector embracing new technology.

Just under a third of groups who took part (32%) said they had a clear digital strategy which would help embrace their charity’s goals – compared to 27% in 2017.

And 58% of organisations questioned said that funding is the biggest barrier to making progress in digital. Skills is the second biggest challenge, with 51% (down from 57%) saying it is an issue.

The report is prepared by Skills Platform and Zoe Amar Communications, and aims to analyse trends and progress within the sector.

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) digital director David McNeill said it is clear that some charities are taking steps towards adapting to a digital world, but progress remains slow.

“With less than half of organisations reporting a good understanding of how digital trends might affect their work, charity leaders and trustees must increasingly challenge 'the way we’ve always done it'”, he said.

“This isn’t just about using technology for the sake of it, but about maximising impact and meeting the expectations of staff, volunteers, donors and other stakeholders in the modern world.”

The report issues seven calls to action for the sector, including having digital as part of organisational strategies and making plans for emerging technology.

One of the key themes of the survey is the need for leadership in embracing technology.

It showed there is a growing expectation that charity leaders must understand digital trends (with 63% saying this is important), and 69% of those questioned described the digital skills of their board members as low or having room for improvement.

Vicky Browning, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), said it is important that sector leaders embrace new technology.

She said: “I have seen that the most effective leaders are those who are quick to seize opportunities, manage risk and stay ahead of the trends affecting their charities. Digital is no exception to this.

“Embracing digital and leading transformation from the top can enable charity leaders to meet and exceed objectives across everything from the services you offer, to how you fundraise and the people you hire.”

The survey also questioned organisations on how ready they are for GDPR – with two thirds saying they are preparing for the changes and will have everything in place when the laws come into force later this spring.

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