“Is this a matter of life and death? Will charities go to the wall if they don’t go digital?”

Boom. There was no messing around with the first question to our panel when we launched our Call to Action urging other charities to embrace the digital agenda last week.

It gets to the heart of why so many people have become evangelists for digital leadership, and digital change.

But it is controversial. For some people it can feel like a challenge that doesn’t properly take account of what charities are so good at – working with people, understanding their needs and championing their views.

At SCVO, being digital doesn’t mean being inhuman. We don’t see it as a way to save money and cut corners.

Evolving your charity to fully take advantage of digital can mean having the data you need to demonstrate impact, developing services that meet the 21st century expectations of your users and freeing up time by reducing administration.

Last week we held the first 3rdsectordigicamp, an unconference for senior leaders and influencers who wanted space to think about adopting digital in their organisation.

One hundred leaders attended, and the discussion throughout the day was fantastic, from exploring the ethics of tying yourself into the software provided by global corporations, to sharing tips about successful user research.

changing culture in organisations needs strong leadership

If you didn’t make it along on the day you can catch up on our Storify.

Some of this change will come from the bottom up, but we increasingly recognise that changing culture in organisations needs strong leadership.

As part of the One Digital project, SCVO has supported 19 CEOs from across the Scottish voluntary sector to develop their approach to digital leadership.

In these videos, Mary Allison from Breast Cancer Now, and Nina Smith from North Ayrshire CAB say what this has meant for them and their organisation.

For all of us, the adoption of digital is a journey. We need to improve and respond in order to fully exploit the potential benefits for our users and organisations.

The Call to Action has been developed from the real experience of senior leaders grappling with what their means for their organisations.

Although each organisation faces unique challenges, there are five key themes that leaders need to engage with:

  • develop as an effective digital leader
  • support your organisation to adopt a digital culture
  • explore how digital can enhance your service delivery
  • be driven by data
  • use flexible technologies, don’t rely on expensive IT infrastructure

This change cannot come from one organisation alone – funders, trustees and infrastructure organisations all have a role to play.

In the first year of the Call to Action we have made some specific asks of these groups, for example OSCR has committed to encouraging charities to recruit a trustee who can help lead digital change.

If you would like to join the Call to Action to create a more digitally confident third sector in Scotland follow @digiscot on Twitter and make your commitment.