Charities are being encouraged to contribute to a new survey aimed at identifying the key barriers to digital skills development in the voluntary sector.
The survey, which will form the basis of the Charity Digital Skills Report and will be published in March, has been launched by Zoe Amar Communications and the Skills Platform, an online marketplace that offers sector-specific learning and progression in the health and not-for-profit sectors.
The report comes after last year’s Charity Social Media Toolkit, which Zoe Amar and the Skills Platform believe demonstrated the need to understand the digital skills of the sector in greater detail. The authors expect the report will prove to be an important resource that maps where the sector currently sits in terms of digital advancement, benchmarking digital skills and making the business case for the support that charities need.
In a statement, Skills Platform said it recognised that "digital" covered a broad area, from technology to software and from hardware to communications. It added: "However, there are some indications that charities are lagging behind SMEs and other business areas in their digital maturity. The Lloyd’s Digital Maturity Index, for example, found that 49 per cent of charities lacked basic digital skills in 2016."
David Evans, product manager at Skills Platform, told Third Sector that the survey would be the primary source for the report, but it expected to draw on other reports, such as the Maturity Index, for context and in the commentary. He added that Skills Platform was hoping for between 400 and 500 responses to the survey.
"We want to build on the insights the sector has gained from the likes of the Lloyds Digital Maturity Index and really drill down into the area of digital skills," Evans said.
"Although it does seem to be improving, the charity sector has lagged behind its commercial peers. This potentially has a knock-on effect on charity competitiveness at times of increasing pressure. Only by truly understanding the skills gaps and their causes can the sector make the digital transformation it needs."
Zoe Amar said: "If charities are to make the business case for greater use of digital, they need data on where the sector sees the opportunities and risks, where the skills gaps are and what the barriers to adoption might be. We hope that the results will give charities a clearer idea on where they are at with digital and where they could go from here."
The report will be a free resource for charities and available as a PDF download and website summary.
To take part in the survey, visit the Skills Platform website.