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BY ZOE AMAR & THE SKILLS PLATFORM

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REPORT DETAIL 2019

Charity Digital Skills Report Banner

You can read the question by question Charity Digital Skills Report 2019 below, with the results split into three main sections. Scroll through the questions one by one, or click on the links below to skip to the section of interest.

More than half of charities (52%) don’t have a digital strategy, an increase from the last 2 years. 10% have been through the full digital transformation process and embedded it, 5% less than in 2018.

  • More than a third (35%) of charities are using digital but don’t have a strategic approach, compared to
    31% last year. This number has reverted back to 2017 levels.
  • 14% of charities are thinking about developing a digital strategy, whilst 3% who are struggling to access basic
    digital tools. This indicates that 52% of charities do not have a digital strategy, an increase on last year’s
    figure of 45% and 50% in 2017. 
  • Less charities are moving forward with digital. Last year 15% of charities had been through the digital
    transformation process and embedded it, compared to 10% this year and 9% in 2017. However, 11% are
    about to start on digital transformation, compared to 10% in 2018. 
  • 22% have a digital strategy but have not yet embarked on digital transformation, holding steady with
    findings in 2017-2018. 
  • 3% of charities are still struggling to access basic tools such as a website, email and social media, up from
    2% last year.

1. DIGITAL STRATEGY

Section 1 - Digital Trends

Section 2 - Charity Digital Leadership

Section 3 - Where Do Charities Go From Here?

2. PRIORITIES FOR DIGITAL

Q - What do you see as your charity's digital priorities for the next 12 months?

Q - What stage is your charity at with Digital?

Sections: 

DOWNLOAD 2019 REPORT

More than two thirds of charities want to use digital to increase their impact, whilst 59% want to make
more effective use of data and 48% wish to use it to improve service delivery. 

  • 67% want to use it to increase their impact, whilst 59% want to use data more effectively
  • Almost half (48%) want to use digital to improve service delivery
  • 42% would like to deploy digital to increase income
  • 41% want to create a strategy, which may mean that more charities will have a strategy in time for next
    year’s report. 
  • Charities want to improve skills, with 41% prioritising development of their colleagues’ skills and 23%
    keen to support their board and leadership team in developing theirs. 
  • Some charities would like more resources, with 38% wishing to improve their charity’s infrastructureHowever, only 13% are looking for pro bono support and planning to recruit more skilled staff.

WHAT STAGE IS YOUR CHARITY AT WITH DIGITAL?

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR CHARITY'S DIGITAL PRIORITIES FOR THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?

3. BUILDING BLOCKS

Q - Which of these building blocks of digital transformation do you have in place?

53% of charities are responding to changing user needs and behaviours. Yet just 35% are up to speed
with how digital trends are affecting their charity’s work and have a plan in place for how to tackle this.
Meanwhile less than a quarter (23%) have a clear strategy for how digital can help achieve their charity’s
goals, indicating that the majority of charities have not aligned their digital and organisational strategies. 

  • 56% of charities are taking active steps to improve the culture so digital can flourish, down from 62% in
    2018 and 59% in 2017. 
  • It’s positive to see that 53% are responding to changing user needs and behaviours, a building block which we’re asking about for the first time this year. 
  • It is a concern that just 35% are up to speed with how digital trends are affecting their charity’s work and have a plan in place for how to tackle this. This is down 10% from 2018 and falls lower than the 2017 rating (39%). 
  • Just over a third (34%) feel that digital transformation is being led from the top. This is slightly less than last year (36%) but more than 2017 (29%). 
  • Less than a quarter (23%) have a clear strategy for how digital can help achieve their charity’s goals, dropping from 32% last year and 27% in 2017. This shows that, worryingly, the vast majority of charities are still not aligning their digital and corporate strategies. 
  • Only 9% of charities say that everyone in their charity understands their digital vision, which has stayed at the same level since the report began. 
  • 26% of charities feel that they are good at innovating and product service development, down from 29% last year.

WHICH OF THESE BUILDING BLOCKS OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION DO YOU HAVE IN PLACE?

4. DIGITAL TOOLS

Q - Which of these digital tools or frameworks are you using?

43% are using The Charity Digital Code of Practice, with 23% using The Digital Maturity Matrix. 

WHICH OF THESE DIGITAL TOOLS OR FRAMEWORKS ARE YOU USING?

  • 43% are using The Charity Digital Code of Practice
  • 23% are using The Digital Maturity Matrix, whilst 19% are using the section on digital media in the Fundraising Code of Practice and 17% are using Cyber Essentials
  • 9% are using The BetterDigital.Services Design Principles.

5. LOOKING AHEAD

Q - Imagine the charity sector 10 years from now. As digital adoption progresses, to what extent do you think the sector will have changed?

Charities told us once again that the sector will be very different in 2029, with 67% holding that view. 

  • 67% think that the sector will change as digital adoption grows. This is slightly less than 69% last year and 68% in 2017. 
  • As last year, less than 1% think that it won’t change, whilst 3% don’t know. 
  • 30% think the sector will change moderately, compared to 28% last year.

IMAGINE THE CHARITY SECTOR 10 YEARS FROM NOW. AS DIGITAL ADOPTION PROGRESSES, TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU THINK THE SECTOR WILL HAVE CHANGED?

6. DIGITAL BARRIERS

Q - What are the biggest barriers to your charity getting the most from digital?

Similar challenges are facing charities as they try to progress in digital. Lack of funding is still the greatest
issue at 56% this year, with skills just behind it at 53%. Culture continues to be a barrier at 45%. And just
under a third say that a lack of trustee buy-in is preventing their charity from moving forward. 

  • Funding continues to be the biggest challenge for charities with digital, at 56% compared to 58% last year.
  • Skills remain as the second greatest issue, with 53% of charities rating them as a barrier (up from 51% last year). 
  • Culture remains as the third largest obstacle, with 45% of charities stating that it must change (down from 46% last year). 
  • There is a continued improvement in the number of charities seeing digital as a priority. 41% have other challenges that are seen as more important that digital, down from 45% in 2018 and 50% in 2017. This suggests that digital could be rising up charities’ agendas. 
  • Infrastructure and processes (e.g. data protection) are less of a challenge. From 2017-2018, 45% of respondents said this needed to be improved, but only 36% this year feel the same. 
  • 33% believe that their charities lack confidence with digital, up from 27% last year. 
  • 31% see a lack of trustee understanding or buy-in for digital as a blocker, slightly less than the 33% last year. 
  • 29% are worried that they are not agile enough (down from 32% last year). 
  • Similar to last year, 27% of charities are concerned about the impact that a lack of leadership in their charities is having on digital progress (28% in 2018). 
  • 25% of charities know that they are now competing with digitally savvy organisations including those who are not just charities, as in 2018. 
  • Internal politics is a bigger issue this year at 23%, rising from 20% last year. 
  • 22% aren’t aware how their audience is using digital, an improvement on 24% last year. 
  • 20% would like HR to be involved (down from 24% last year). 
  • Slightly more charities than last year don’t know where they need to go or how to get there (19% compared to 17% in 2018).

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO YOUR CHARITY GETTING THE MOST FROM DIGITAL?

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7. DIGITAL SKILLS

Q - How would you rate your charity's skills in the following areas?

Continuing the pattern we’ve seen year on year, many answers were clustered around the fair to low end
of the spectrum. This means that there is substantial room for improvement in charities’ digital skills, as
well as the confidence they have in them. 

There have been some improvements in digital fundraising and cybersecurity skills, but gaps remain in
digital strategy, artificial intelligence, service delivery and product development. 

More charities are worried about their digital governance and leadership skills than last year. 

  • 43% rate their understanding of what digital is and how to apply it as excellent or good, down from 49% in
    2017. 52% rate themselves as fair or low, up from 50% last year. 
  • More than half (59%) state that their digital strategy skills are fair to low, up from 53% last year. 
  • 59% rate themselves as fair or low at keeping up to date with digital trends, up from 55% in 2018. 
  • Almost two thirds (64%) say that they have good to fair skills in how their audience uses digital, the same rating as in 2018. 
  • 76% of charity professionals have low to very low skills in AI, rising from 73% last year and 68% in 2017. 
  • This is a concern as, according to a recent report by PWC, artificial intelligence is predicted to add £232 billion to the UK economy by 2030. Charities who are not looking to develop skills in this area could miss out on opportunities. 
  • Handling data continues to be a skills gap. As in 2018, 62% rate themselves as fair to low with usingmanaging and analysing data. 65% rate themselves as good to fair with cybersecurity, a small improvement on 63% in 2018. 
  • Charities’ confidence with digital channels is varied. 62% have good to fair email marketing skills (the same
    as last year), and 60% think they are excellent or good at social media (down from 64% last year). 59% are
    good to fair with analytics
    , down from 66% in 2018. 58% say they have fair to low skills in SEO and ads, up
    from 56% last year. 
  • 59% rate their digital fundraising skills as fair to low, a small improvement on 62% last year. 63% rate their
    business development skills as fair to low
    , an increase on 58% in 2018. Both skills are critical to help charities
    generate more income. 
  • 60% told us that their digital service delivery skills are fair to low, an increase on 53% last year. Charities are
    finding other relevant areas challenging; 59% rate their user research skills as fair to low (similar to last year’s
    results), 54% saying that they have low to very low digital product development skills (up from 51% last year)
    and 77% rating their agile project management skills as fair to very low (up from 75% in 2018). 
  • 60% rate their digital governance skills as fair to low, up from 58% last year. 58% say that their charities have
    fair to low skills in digital leadership, a notable increase from 53% last year.

HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR CHARITY'S SKILLS IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS?

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Weighted average of responses: 1 = excellent 0 = very low

8. HOW COULD DIGITAL MAKE AN IMPACT?

Q - What could your charity do if it increased its digital skills?

81% want to get more from their data, whilst 72% think that investing in skills would help them save
money and time. 

  • Charities are thinking big about what digital skills could help them do. 81% are keen to get more from their data, whilst 72% think it would help them save money and time
  • 68% believe it would increase fundraising (72% last year). 
  • 67% believe it would help them deliver their strategy more effectively, less than the 72% last year. 
  • As in 2018, 62% thought that digital skills could help them develop better services. 
  • However, only 61% thought digital skills could help them grow their charity’s network, down from 73% last year. 

WHAT COULD YOUR CHARITY DO IF IT INCREASED ITS DIGITAL SKILLS?

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  • Increasing staff’s skills and retaining talent has become less of a priority when developing skills. Only 57% think that this is the case, compared to 65% in 2018, and back to the same level as in 2017. 
  • 54% thought that digital would help them support more beneficiaries (compared to 57% last year). Yet only 42% feel that growing digital skills could help them co-ordinate volunteers more effectively, falling sharply from 54% in 2018. Less than half (47%) think that digital could help grow their influence with policy makers and the media, down from 53% in 2018. The fact that charities have fallen back in these three areas suggests that they need more support when using digital to increase their social impact. 
  • Just over a third (34%) believe that developing their skills would help them develop more products.

9. TRAINING PREFERENCE

Q - How would you prefer to learn about digital?

Face-to-face training is still the most popular option, but elearning and webinars are gaining ground. 

  • Face-to-face training was the preferred option of many charity professionals at 68%. It is interesting that this has fallen from 71% last year and 75% the year before, which may indicate how learning and development is changing. 

HOW WOULD YOU PREFER TO LEARN ABOUT DIGITAL?

  • eLearning (60%) is slightly more popular than last year (59%), as are webinars (60% compared to 56% in 2018).
  • Informal peer-to-peer support has remained at 56% since last year. 
  • 56% are interested in having a mentor, up from 53% in 2018. 
  • 18% want further support from their manager, a 2% increase on 2018.

10. DIGITAL LEADERSHIP SKILLS

Q - What digital skills and knowledge would you like to see your leadership team develop?

Charities still want more from their leaders in digital, with 64% wishing they would offer a good digital
strategy. However, their digital demands of their leadership teams in other areas have fallen, suggesting
that things have either improved, or that charities have lower expectations. 

  • Charities are looking for digital leadership. 73% want their senior team to offer a clear vision of digital and
    what it could help them to achieve, down from 77% last year but clearly still an area of significant need. 
  • 64% want their leaders to develop a good digital strategy, rising from 60% last year. 
  • 57% want their leaders to understand trends and how they affect charities, down from 63% last year. Meanwhile 45% want their senior team to have some experience or understanding of digital tools, down
    from 53% last year. 
  • 41% want their leadership teams to be more agile and adapt to change, compared to 47% last year. 
  • 39% are looking for better digital leadership skills such as being more decisive, focused and
    collaborative,
    down from 42% last year.

WHAT DIGITAL SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR LEADERSHIP TEAM DEVELOP?

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11. YOUR BOARD'S DIGITAL SKILLS

Q - How would you rate your board's digital skills?

Most charities (68%) rate their board’s digital skills as low or having room for improvement, similar to
2018, whilst there has been a 3% decline in digitally savvy boards. Charities must invest in developing
trustees’ digital skills. 

  • 36% state that there is little digital expertise on their board, up from 34% last year and 35% in 2017. 
  • 32% think that their board could improve, possessing some digital skills but could develop more, compared to 35% last year. 
  • 16% say that their board is good and engaging more with digital, up from 14% in 2018. However, only 3% of charities see their board as digitally savvy, half the number of those last year (6%).

HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR BOARD'S DIGITAL SKILLS?

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12. BOARD DEVELOPMENT

Q - Is your charity planning to increase digital skills on its board?

There is clearly a substantial digital skills gap on boards, yet 77% of people either don’t know what is being
done to improve this or believe that their charity doesn’t have any plans. 

IS YOUR CHARITY PLANNING TO INCREASE DIGITAL SKILLS ON ITS BOARD?

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  • Whilst there is obviously a substantial digital skills gap on most charity boards, just under half (45%) don’t know what their charity is planning to do about this, compared to 48% last year. This indicates that the sector still hasn’t seen a significant shift in upskilling boards in digital 
  • This is reinforced by the fact that 32% of charities do not have any plans in this area, up from 30% in 2018. 
  • A mere 7% are investing in digital training for trustees, down from 11% last year. 
  • However, 9% of charities are looking to recruit a digital trustee, up from 4% in 2018.

13. LEADERSHIP CONSEQUENCES

Q - What do you think will happen if your board or leadership team doesn't increase its skills and confidence with digital?

Charities are still concerned that they are missing out on opportunities in digital fundraising, and that they
won’t reap the rewards of using digital strategically, losing competitive advantage. 

  • 60% of charities are concerned that they will miss out on opportunities for digital fundraising, compared to
    65% last year. 
  • 52% are worried that their charities will only use digital tactically, not strategically, down from 55% in 2018. 
  • Over half (51%) are worried that it will give their competitors an advantage, compared to 53% in 2018 and 2017. 
  • 50% are concerned that they won’t be able to reach their audience, similar to 51% last year. 
  • 49% think they won’t be seen as relevant anymore (compared to 48% last year). 
  • 49% are concerned that they won’t be able to adapt governance to modern ways of working and the faster pace of change required by digital, compared to 48% last year. 
  • 48% feel that they won’t be able to get the support they need to develop more digital products and services, down from 51% in 2018. 
  • 47% believe it could affect their brand and reputation, dropping from 51% last year. 
  • As in 2018, 7% think that digital skills amongst their board and leadership team won’t make a difference.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN IF YOUR BOARD OR LEADERSHIP TEAM DOESN'T INCREASE ITS SKILLS AND CONFIDENCE WITH DIGITAL?

14. DIGITAL BARRIERS

Q - What do you see as the biggest threats to your charity increasing its use of digital?

Almost two thirds of charities see lack of resources as the greatest challenge to progress. 

  • Almost two thirds see lack of resources as the most significant threat, up from 64% in 2018 to 65% this year. 
  • More charities told us that their IT infrastructure needs improvement, rising from 50% last year to 54% this year. 
  • The number of charities who think that their charity isn’t agile enough and that their culture needs to change has fallen to less than half, from 52% to 45% this year. 31% think keeping pace with how their audience is using digital is a challenge, 2% less than in 2018. 

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE BIGGEST THREATS TO YOUR CHARITY INCREASING ITS USE OF DIGITAL?

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  • 29% fear that competitors are using digital better than they are, slightly less than 28% last year. 
  • 27% are struggling to attract or retain the right digital talent, rising from 26% in 2018 and 25% in 2017. 
  • 47% are concerned that they don’t have the right skills in their charity, similar to 48% last year. 
  • Yet only 17% feel that their market is changing rapidly, 8% less than in 2018. 
  • 15% stated that they need to do more on cybersecurity, which is a 5% improvement on last year.

15. EMERGING TECHNOLOGY

Q - Is your charity planning for emerging tech developments (e.g automation, artificial intelligence)?

How are charities managing new tech innovation? More than half (53%) of charities are aware of these
issues but aren’t planning for them yet. Just 12% are planning for how this could change their charity,
despite frequent news stories about algorithms, cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence. 

  • There is a growing awareness of these issues, with 53% of charities (2% more than last year) cognisant of
    issues but not planning for them yet
  • Less charities (26%) think that these issues aren’t relevant to them, compared to 29% last year. 
  • 12% are planning for how this could change their charity, less than the 14% last year.

IS YOUR CHARITY PLANNING FOR EMERGING TECH DEVELOPMENTS (E.G AUTOMATION, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE)?

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16. ETHICAL CHALLENGES IN DIGITAL INNOVATION

Q - Is your charity looking at the ethical challenges posed by digital innovation, e.g social media platforms' use of data, how to make all users feel included, algorithm bias?

With the ethics of big tech companies high on the news agenda, for the first time we asked charities how
they are planning for this. Just over 1 in 4 (27%) are already looking at this challenge. 

  • Over half (58%) told us that they know of the issues but aren’t planning for them as yet
  • More than 1 in 4 (27%) are already looking at this challenge
  • Just 9% think these issues aren’t relevant to them.

IS YOUR CHARITY LOOKING AT THE ETHICAL CHALLENGES POSED BY DIGITAL INNOVATION, E.G SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS' USE OF DATA, HOW TO MAKE ALL USERS FEEL INCLUDED, ALGORITHM BIAS?

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17. DIGITAL IMPORTANCE, TO YOU

Q - How important is it to you to work for a charity that is actively developing its digital capabilities and skills?

More than 8 out of 10 charity professionals told us it’s important to them to work for an organisation that
is investing in digital skills. 

  • 86% of people want to work for a charity that is progressing in this area, up by 2% on last year. 
  • Just 13% were neutral about this, down from 15% in 2018. 
  • A mere 1% said it wasn’t important.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO WORK FOR A CHARITY THAT IS ACTIVELY DEVELOPING ITS DIGITAL CAPABILITIES AND SKILLS?

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18. DIGITAL CONSEQUENCES

Q - If your charity doesn't increase its use of digital what will you do?

A growing number of charity professionals (58%) plan to work with management to increase investment in
digital, up 4% from 2018. 

  • 58% plan to work with management to increase investment in digital, up 4% from 2018. 
  • 18% will stay in their current role but are unsure of what they will do in the long term, 3% less than last year. 
  • As in 2018, 18% will look for a job with another charity who see digital as a priority, up 3% on last year. 
  • 6% are considering leaving the charity sector altogether, consistent with our 2018 report.

IF YOUR CHARITY DOESN'T INCREASE ITS USE OF DIGITAL WHAT WILL YOU DO?

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19. DIGITAL DIVERSITY

Q - Is your charity taking active steps to make its digital teams and roles more diverse?

Diversity is a hot topic and we asked charities for the first time whether they are making this a focus on
digital teams. Just 25% see it as a priority. Is this enough? 

  • 41% are not currently taking active steps towards diversity but are aware that they need to make improvements. 
  • However, 1 in 4 (25%) don’t know what their charity is doing about this issue
  • Just 25% see it as a priority.

IS YOUR CHARITY TAKING ACTIVE STEPS TO MAKE ITS DIGITAL TEAMS AND ROLES MORE DIVERSE?

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20. THE BREXIT EFFECT

Q - Is Brexit affecting your charity's digital plans?

Brexit is one of the biggest events facing the UK in 2019. In this year’s report, we asked charities how it’s
affecting them. 87% of charities say it hasn’t affected what they are doing digitally. 

  • 87% of charities say it hasn’t affected what they are doing digitally
  • 9% say it has changed what they do.

IS BREXIT AFFECTING YOUR CHARITY'S DIGITAL PLANS?

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21. IMPACT OF BREXIT

Q - If Brexit is affecting your charity's digital plans, what is the impact?

42% are finding it hard to plan due to uncertainty, whilst 14% are concerned about access to data and 12%
are cautious about investing. 

  • 42% are finding it hard to plan due to uncertainty
  • 40% are focusing on business as usual, with innovation less of a priority. 
  • 14% are concerned about access to data, whilst 12% are cautious about investing.

IF BREXIT IS AFFECTING YOUR CHARITY'S DIGITAL PLANS, WHAT IS THE IMPACT?

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DOWNLOAD 2019 REPORTIntroductionSector ResponseReport DetailAboutCharity TrainingSocial ToolkitDigital Toolkit

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