Today the Lloyds Banking Group publish the findings of the latest UK Business Digital Index survey, including a dedicated report for the charity sector.
It is hugely encouraging to see the results demonstrate the progress being made by charities in adapting to our digital world, with digital capability almost doubling over the past four years.
Being a digital capable charity is about exploring how to use technology to maximise impact and meet the expectations of beneficiaries, staff, volunteers, donors and other stakeholders in the modern world. It isn’t about using cutting edge technology for the sake of it (treat anyone talking about AI or blockchain with a healthy degree of suspicion – it’s often just buzzword marketing!).
More than half of all charities now have all five basic organisational skills and capabilities. Given the impact the internet and new technology has had on the way we all communicate in our personal lives, it’s perhaps unsurprising that communication remains the strongest skill.
It is particularly interesting to see that the use of social media by charities has almost doubled over the past year. However, this does raise questions as to whether many organisations have been slow to respond to the opportunity to engage people in the places where they are spending an increasing amount of time.
Another worrying trend is that 95% of charity websites do not meet accessibility guidelines and 92% are not mobile optimised. There is clearly a need for urgent improvement in relation to inclusive online engagement.
Beyond communication, it is encouraging that the majority of organisations can transact online, including receiving donations and managing accounts. It is a concern that far fewer charities are confident at protecting themselves from scams. The National Cyber Security Centre indicates that the charity sector is particularly vulnerable to online crime due to its culture of trust. However, most charities appear to recognise the need to respond to these emerging threats, with two-thirds are looking at using more cyber security in the next two years. If this is you, don’t forget to check out our current small grants programme to enable organisations to get Cyber Essentials accreditation.
The report also shows that charities using new technology and the internet aren’t just reaching more people, they are also more efficient and effective. For the first time, the biggest reported impact of being a digitally capable charity is saving time, overtaking the ability to reach a more diverse set of donors.
Time saving is crucial, as charities need to invest in skills and technology but may be reluctant to do so for fear of taking away resources from ‘front line’ services. What this year’s Index shows is that an investment in digital will ultimately pay off, enabling more time to be spent making a difference for the individuals and communities that charities serve.
Adapting to a digital world and securing the benefits isn’t always easy. It needs the time and space to explore the implications, learn new skills and implement change. We’re here to help you progress on your digital journey, so why not:
- Read our report published last month on creating a digitally confident third sector in Scotland
- Complete an organisational digital check-up
- Sign up to our learning programme for senior leaders
- Apply for a Cyber Essentials grant
Or just get in touch with your question and we’ll do our best to help!