Adeela Warley: Digital is a blessing and a curse for small charities

The chief executive of CharityComms says digital provides an opportunity for all charities, but it needs investment

Adeela Warley
Adeela Warley

The unstoppable rise of digital is an undeniable force in charity communications, even for those working in smaller charities. In our soon-to-be published Digital Benchmark report, 61 per cent of charity communications professionals from smaller charities told us it was essential to their charities’ strategies.

But this opportunity comes at a price, and small charities appear to be struggling to keep up with their bigger counterparts. Digital provides smaller charities with an opportunity to step up, but they need investment in order to realise its true potential.

Over the past five years, we’ve seen creative charities experiment with digital innovations in marketing, fundraising and service delivery. But it seems this avalanche of innovation is both a blessing and a curse. Eighty-five per cent of the charity comms professionals surveyed mentioned digital as one of the biggest changes over the past decade.

And it’s not just the wealth of channels, from Facebook to Snapchat and beyond, that are evolving. The on-demand digital reality has inspired charities to dramatically change how they approach comms and get to grips with digital transformation to become more agile, responsive organisations. According to the recent Charity Digital Skills Report by Zoe Amar and David Evans, 52 per cent of charities said they believed a lack of funding was the biggest barrier to getting more from digital.

Some smaller charities, such as Target Ovarian Cancer, have successfully made the case. Alex Holden, communications director, says: "By giving an overview of the issues we were facing and how that was affecting our core strategy, we were able to create a burning platform for the board too, together with a clear vision of what the new world would look like."

We need more champions like Holden and brave trustees to help small charities fully exploit digital.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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