“A Clear Way Forward” for charities on digital.

When the Charity Digital Code launched on 15th November 2018, charities welcomed the sector-wide standard showing what good digital looks like today.  Since then over 150 charities have used the Charity Digital Code Quick Assessment Tool to test their own digital capabilities and practices against those described in the sector, and have shared their data anonymously with the rest of the sector.

The verdict is that there’s a long way to go, but the way forward is clearly indicated by the code.  Zoe Amar, who chairs the Charity Digital Code, commented:

It’s helpful to have these early insights into where the charity sector is at in relation to The Charity Digital Code of Practice. The results show that there is some way to go with digital in the sector, which is a concern.  The best practice set out in the Code is designed to be ambitious in order to raise standards and we encourage charities to work towards it, as this will help them increase impact, improve sustainability and develop skills.

One challenge highlighted by the report is that whilst charities reported strong leadership from their boards around governance and setting the direction of the charity, that there were real challenges delivering on this within the charity – particularly because of a real shortage of significant skills – 75% of charities reporting that they had “very few digitally skilled people around”.  With digital skills being a strong driver of digital performance in other areas, the benchmark clearly points to this as the area of focus most needed by charities today.

One area of hope that the report highlights, however, is that analytics is an area that the charity sector is getting to grips with. Over 40% of charities indicated that they had significant tactical or strategic work going on in this area, and whilst this is a long way from fully meeting the standard, this does show charities focusing on understanding supporter behaviour, and in turn on the most effective ways to engage and respond.

“Digital has changed our culture and has changed our economy, our relationships and the way we live our lives” commented Jonathan May, CEO of Hubbub Fundraising, which sponsored the research, “It’s vital that charities use this benchmark as the measure of the size and urgency of the task ahead. The benchmark suggests that the sector as a whole is at risk of falling behind, and now is the time to act. Digital has now reached the point where a few strong digital people at the right place in the organisation working with the right partners on the right projects can have a transformative impact on both fundraising and service delivery.”

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Martin Francis Campbell, CIO of Christian humanitarian organisation World Vision UK, and chair of the Digital Collective which has run the data gathering and research highlights:

“The Charity Digital Code has been a tremendously useful standard against which charities have been able to measure ourselves.  It’s no surprise that we’re behind the curve on digital, and we know that we need to do more, but what’s so valuable about this report – and the code itself – is that, by focussing on the culture and practice of digital, rather than the technology, it shows us where we need to concentrate our effort in order to kickstart improvements overall.”

The results of the Charity Digital Code Benchmark Report have been published today in full to more than 150 charities who have shared their anonymised data for the research.  The full report is also available free of charge to any charity contributing data using the Quick Assessment tool here: https://hubbub.typeform.com/to/jMcQar

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