Charities making progress in digital maturity
24 Oct 2016by CharityDigital Editorial
The 2016 edition of Lloyds Business Digital Index, just released, has highlighted widespread progress in the charity sector’s digital performance. Although the sector still lags behind average overall, we should be encouraged that charitable organisations are increasingly embracing digital tools to fulfil their missions. We’ve broken down the findings into a few of the key areas:
Research and development
The report shows a dramatic increase in the use of digital resources for researching tech and improving internal processes.
- 25% more charities now search online for tech-related advice. This can be a huge money/time saver and so it’s good to hear that 74% are now doing it. As it’s a basic digital skill that can unearth others, it’s especially important that this has markedly increased.
- 4% fewer charities now see digital as irrelevant. Overall, 81% now acknowledge the benefits it can have and are actively searching to improve it.
- 10% more charities now invest money on technology. Larger charities are even more likely than smaller ones to invest in tech. This suggests the reason that some still aren’t investing is a lack of resources rather than a lack of desire.
While improvements in digital marketing have been less dramatic, this is partly because charities were already quite advanced. Nonetheless, there have still been some noteworthy advances.
- Twice as many charities are now using digital advertising. An increase from 30% to 60% marks a huge increase and could be a result of charities abandoning invasive offline fundraising methods, due to wider availability of AdWords grants through Google for Nonprofits and also due to a better understanding of digital fundraising methods.
- Email communication has reached almost 90%. As one of the most popular modes of communication available, email has continued to rise in popularity for charities. Emails are freely available to tiny charities through MailChimp and are hugely discounted for all slightly larger charities through Charity Digital Mail.
- There has been a 13% increase in the number of people who think social media directly benefits revenue. On top of this, 44% have established communities on their channels to engage with their donors this year.
This is the area with the most potential for even further improvement. It includes any exchange or transfer of money, whether that be a donation, funding or an internal bank transfer.
- The percentage of charities receiving online donations has more than doubled this year. The increase from 24% to 53% is likely caused by an easier setup process and because of the relatively low-effort financial benefits.
- Online payments have increased by almost 30% - 47% of charities are now making online payments, which save a great deal of time and effort once used as a default method.
- The use of online accounting systems has more than tripled – with 24% now utilising the service over traditional banking methods.
The report does show that compared to commercial businesses, the charity sector is still some way behind. Truly, it will take some time before the sector fully embraces technology and some personnel change will be necessary along the way. That said, the progress evidenced in the Lloyds report correlates with the changed perceptions we’ve seen among charity sector workers. More and more charities are beginning to see technology, not as a standalone thing to be ‘got’, but just as an area where tools exist that can help fulfil missions cheaper and easier. At Charity Digital, we’re going to keep working hard to ensure that this progress is not short-term, but continues across the UK. By Emelia Goodall, Charity Digital