We need to move the needle when it comes to charity digital skills

Third Sector Promotion ToucanTech

The charity sector still has a way to go when it comes to embracing and enabling technology and digital to help move them forward in achieving their goals. However, the appetite for change is there, says Jade Brennan, head of marketing at ToucanTech.

The Charity Digital Skills Report 2020 found that charities’ top digital aspirations for the next 12 months included integrating digital into their organisation, developing a digital strategy, raising more through digital channels and embracing a digital culture.

More than half (51 per cent) of the charities surveyed said they lacked a digital strategy, which is a decrease of one per cent from 2019 and a decrease of six per cent on 2018 (45 per cent). Only 10 per cent of respondents said that digital is not only integral to their organisational strategy but is embedded across their work.

Coupled with this, many employees of charities and nonprofits are experiencing an extended period of remote working, while being tasked with maintaining virtual engagement using digital channels. This sudden shift is placing a bigger emphasis on online and digital skill sets than ever before, and causing many charities to focus on the technology that makes this possible, both internally and externally with their supporter communities.

The latest Charity Digital Skills Report is soon to be published, so it will be interesting to see what has changed in the past year. Looking at the reports over the past three years, instead of more charities developing digital strategies, there are less. So what’s holding them back?

A combination of factors is needed to propel charities and nonprofits forward into the future of fundraising, including a strong vision, robust data-management practices and purpose-built platforms that make donor relationship building easier.

Leadership is key

In order for charities to make the most of digital, they need leaders and trustees who not only understand the value of digital, but are willing to invest in it too. Sixty-seven per cent of respondents said they wanted their leadership team to offer a clear vision of what digital could help them achieve, making digital leadership a key need.

For leaders this could seem daunting. However, there are lots of free resources and training to help develop their understanding of digital and how it can move their organisation forward. Without integrating digital into your organisation, charities risk getting left behind. Solutions such as ToucanTech give you the power to manage all your communications, admin and data in one place, helping charities reach more supporters, help more people and raise more money.

According to the report, one in five charities has poor skills across a range of areas of digital. These include user needs, data, analytics, cybersecurity, digital service delivery and digital fundraising. Having disparate systems, which don’t integrate, means not being able to see the full picture.

Charities need user-friendly and intuitive systems to help them integrate digital into the day-to-day, and should feel supported by their software vendors when embedding a new system in the organisation, via ongoing training, access to resources and support services.

Digital fundraising is more important than ever

Covid-19 cemented the importance of digital fundraising. With face-to-face events cancelled, charities had no option but to raise money online. While 41 per cent cited that digital fundraising is a priority, this is an area where charities lack skills and confidence. Sevent-eight per cent said they are fair to poor at digital fundraising, with 45 per cent saying they are poor. It’s critical that charities improve in this area to help plug funding gaps.

When asked what respondents to the 2021 Covid-19 Comms Survey by CharityComms and Media Trust wanted to achieve through their communications, 67 per cent cited fundraising.

Digital fundraising is key to longevity for the philanthropic sector, and it’s crucial that charities gain confidence in this by choosing a system that creates exceptional donor experiences, boosts donations and connects the dots between donor data and online engagement platforms.

Technology is key, but so is culture

One of the key priorities for charities is improving their culture (45 per cent) when it comes to digital. For organisations to embrace and integrate digital, they need a culture that is open, agile and willing to test, learn and iterate. Teams need to stop working in silos and work in collaboration, towards a shared goal.

Organisations need to invest in upskilling staff and plugging those digital skills gaps. There also need to be opportunities to learn and develop skills and share digital practices with others.

The sector clearly doesn’t lack ambition, but is lacking the tools to evolve its digital offering.

Investing in digital has huge benefits, such as making your organisation more efficient and productive, and enabling you to better serve your beneficiaries. It has cost-saving benefits, as well as helping you to raise more money online, with better supporter journeys and optimised donor experiences. ToucanTech can help you gain confidence in digital while providing one powerful system that combines a CRM, analytics, email, events, payments and more.

Gain confidence in using digital tools and data to boost supporter engagement and manage donors. Find out more about ToucanTech’s all-in-one CRM, comms and community software.

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