Get your free copy of Charity Digital’s latest e-book, Digital strategy design: A step-by-step guide for charities
We live in a digital world, and charities are not exempt from this.
Digital culture and technology define the way we interact and work with our staff, our supporters and beneficiaries, as well as how we interact with other organisations. As charities, we should be defined by our use of digital, and the new and exciting ways it allows us to communicate with our audience.
And yet the Charity Digital Skills Report from 2019 highlights that 52% of charities don’t have a digital strategy. This is actually an increase on the year before. Many organisations are still reliant on traditional ways of working, particularly when it comes to fundraising and offering support to beneficiaries. These organisations are at risk of getting left behind.
Charities may find themselves torn between the benefits and challenges of the digital era. On one hand, access to audiences has never been cheaper and easier than it is thanks to digital technology and social media. On the other hand, competition for attention and engagement has never been so fierce. We are now vying for attention in the same arena as bigger, more known brands. And we are not exempt from this competition just because we are nonprofit organisations.
According to a 2018 Charity Digital whitepaper, Charities with a digital strategy are generally more optimistic about the future of their organisations than those without. 92% of charities with a digital strategy in place say that they expect to increase their measurable impact in 2018. When asked: “Which of the following would be most helpful in meeting your strategic goals?”, 17% of respondents in our survey answered: “a better understanding of technology”.
However, of those 17% who seek a better understanding of technology to meet their strategic goals, most (70%) have no plans to invest in digital training. 74% of charities plan to spend either the same or more on IT infrastructure in the coming year, whereas the large majority (73%) of charities have said they do not plan to provide digital training.
We are also living in an age where technology is evolving at a breakneck pace; providing us with new applications and productivity tools and offering new ways to provide services that would have been inconceivable 10 or 20 years ago. This growth and advancement will only continue to accelerate. It’s not just that organisations without a digital strategy will be left behind: they will be left even further behind.
The reluctance to embark on the process of developing and implementing a digital strategy may be due to the complexity and overwhelming nature of digital transformation. The biggest obstacle can be simply not knowing where to start. There is no small amendment or quick fix - a sea change is needed, both in terms of approach and wider digital culture within the organisation.
Developing a digital strategy collectively with colleagues can help to overcome the reluctance and fear of change whilst also ensuring that a well-informed strategy is developed and implemented. Through a strategy development process like the one set out in this book, the main stakeholders will get on the same page. They will plan this change together, at the pace that suits the organisation, and ultimately drive it forward sustainably for everyone’s benefit based on a clear understanding of priorities, costs and benefits.
Download our step-by-step guide to designing a digital strategy for your charity.