Zoe Amar: How to upskill in the coronavirus downturn

With a recession looming and more charities working from home, now is a good time for us all to develop the digital skills we need to get through Covid-19

Zoe Amar
Zoe Amar

I remember that morning in November 2008 clearly. I was quietly working away in the office of the charity I was then employed by when my phone rang. It was one of those horrible calls that nobody expects but everyone dreads. My then fiancé (now husband) told me that he was being made redundant because of the financial crash.

I’ve thought about that moment, and the feelings of shock, numbness and loss of control many times since Covid-19 hit. My most important learning from that time is how vital it is to invest in skills.

Overnight I became the main breadwinner, but my other half encouraged me to see my own learning and development as a priority. His logic was that it would make me valuable to my employer and more marketable when the economy improved. He was right.

Ever since then "upskill in a downturn" has been one of my mantras. Training budgets are likely to have been cut over the past few weeks as charities deal with loss of income, but there are still plenty of free or low-cost resources out there. And with a recession looming and more charities working from home, now is a good time for us all to develop the digital skills we need to get through Covid-19.

Many organisations are pivoting to digitise service delivery and fundraising, and we’re keen to build a picture of where you need support through the Charity Digital Skills Report, which we’ve updated to track how the sector is using digital to respond to the crisis.

These are the digital resources I’d recommend to help with this. You could even buddy up with a colleague to share what you’re both learning each week.

Online training has grown over the past few years and the good news is that there are plenty of free courses. Google Garage offers courses in digital marketing and data and tech, and Future Learn provides digital skills courses for all levels. General Assembly also has online resources, covering everything from analytics to coding to user experience.

If you are looking to improve your digital offerings, the Media Trust offers a helpful online resource hub, including a Twitter content strategy playbook and a digital objective builder template, among other guides. CharityComms’ knowledge hub also has plenty of useful articles, with recent highlights including how to work from home effectively and tips on creating a social media calendar.

If you’re growing your digital fundraising capabilities, Reason Digital has made its book on this topic free.

Many webinars are springing up to help charities through Covid-19. Lightful has compiled an excellent list of these, encompassing subjects from remote working to digital service delivery.

Ultimately, it’s what you do with your new-found skills that counts. There are lots of free resources to help charities make effective decisions about digital in The Charity Digital Code of Practice.

During the extraordinary times we are living through, digital skills will create resilience and adaptability. At the moment many of us will feel that we are firefighting one problem after another and are focusing on making it through the day. Taking the time for you to learn digital skills, even if it is just half an hour a week, will help you feel more in control and ready to advise your charity on how best to accelerate digitally.

Most importantly, it’s an investment in your future.

Zoe Amar is founder of the digital and marketing consultancy Zoe Amar Digital @zoeamar. Share your views on the digital support needs for charities in the coronavirus crisis in the Charity Digital Skills Report with Skills Platform. The survey is open for an extended period so we can map how your digital needs are changing and make the case for where the sector needs support

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