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Survey shows charities’ digital shortcomings

24/03/17

Report from Skills Platform raises questions around sector’s capacity to work with public authorities in transformation

Charities are falling short on building digital skills and need to get to grips with the whole field of digital transformation, according to newly published research.

Skills Platform, the not-for-profit training broker for the sector, has compiled the Charity Digital Skills Report with Zoe Amar Communications, highlighting that many charities are way behind the public sector in exploiting the potential of digital technology.

Only 50% of the almost 500 professionals surveyed said their organisations had a digital strategy, and a mere 9% said they had embedded a transformation programme. 71% said their board’s digital skills were not up to scratch, 57% cited the lack of skills as a barrier and 52% cited lack of funding.

There was an awareness of the need for improvement, with 80% wanting their leadership team to provide a clear vision of digital and 66% wanting a strategy. Meanwhile, 75% could see the advantage in improving digital skills, 59% were working to improve the culture and 39% felt they were on top of digital trends.

But 61% rated their ability to use the technology in fundraising as fair to low. This suggests that charities could be missing out on the potential to raise more income through digital.

Public sector worry

On a broader front, it could create reservations in the public sector about how far it can go in working with charities. While there is now widespread support for the idea of collaborative working between the two sectors, the digital shortcomings among charities suggest that they could struggle to keep up with the demands.

Martha Lane FoxMartha Lane Fox (pictured), executive chair of research group Doteveryone and former adviser to the Cabinet Office and NHS on digital technology, said: “This survey's results are sobering. Charities across the UK do extraordinary, life-changing work, but unless they engage with digital, they'll struggle to fundraise, stay relevant, and remain competitive.

“Building digital skills starts with leadership and so I urge charity leaders to develop their own digital knowledge alongside their teams."

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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