Jo Wolfe: Digital maturity in charities - one year on

Breast Cancer Care's assistant director reflects on the progress of the sector towards digital maturity since the launch of the Digital Maturity Matrix in 2016

Jo Wolfe
Jo Wolfe

I’ve never been so happy to fail. When we recently rescored Breast Cancer Care’s digital maturity using the Digital Maturity Matrix, I feared the worst. We had worked across teams and with agency partners to increase the charity’s digital maturity from 31 per cent to 56 per cent in 12 months. I’d always known it was an ambitious goal. Had we tried to move too far too fast?

As the scores in the online tool ticked northwards, I held my breath. The result was 55 per cent maturity – one percentage point off the target, but incredible nonetheless. It was especially gratifying to see significant progress in areas we’d particularly invested in – content, campaigns, user experience and analytics.

We created the Third Sector Maturity Matrix as part of Breast Cancer Care’s digital strategy review in late 2015. The tool assesses a charity’s existing digital maturity across eight dimensions (everything from technology to governance) using a series of statements. Crucially, it also allows you to set targets for a year ahead.

We found it so useful we decided to make the tool available for free to the rest of the sector.

One of the major benefits of using the Maturity Matrix is to quantify a previously subjective view on a charity’s digital progress. Digital professionals can bring senior management into the scoring process and I’ve been privileged to take several teams through the tool as an impartial support. If it’s achieved one thing, I hope the Maturity Matrix has armed digital leads with a concrete means to influence upwards.

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A year on, more than 400 charities have used the Digital Maturity Matrix. From the anonymised benchmarking data, which we can access through the tool’s back end, one of the biggest indicators of a charity’s digital maturity is team size. On average, a charity with a digital team of under four will have a score 14 percentage points lower than a team with more than 11. This will surprise few, but team size also hampers specific areas of progress, with user experience and analytics particularly stymied.

Against the backdrop of the rearticulated UK Digital Strategy, it’s clear that digital skills are crucial to increasing a charity's digital maturity. If we can retrain our staff and empower them to think digitally, the challenge is less the size of one team and more about leveraging the entire workforce to meet digital goals. The government’s pledge to offer more than four million digital skills training opportunities, including training 2.5 million people in small and medium-sized businesses and charities through the Lloyds Banking Group, could offer real benefits to the causes we work for.

The detail of this national programme is yet to be seen, but at Breast Cancer Care comprehensive digital training in areas such as social media and email marketing – our Digital Culture Programme – has helped to unite staff behind our digital vision.

The charity sector has a long way to go before it offers the digital experience our audiences expect and deserve. With Breast Cancer Care’s new target set at 74 per cent digital maturity by March 2018, we know we’re making progress, but we must stay the course. Will you join me in measuring your charity’s digital maturity and setting a goal to improve it? You can get started now at

Jo Wolfe is digital lead at Breast Cancer Care

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