A digital skills audit is invaluable to help charities identify training needs as well as their strengths and weaknesses in improving their digital capabilities
Charity staff and volunteers are rapidly improving their use of digital across their organisation, from fundraising to service delivery. But a lack of digital skills is still a major barrier to many charities fulfilling their full potential, according to the latest evidence.
The 2020 Digital Skills Report found digital skills gaps were cited as a barrier to innovation among almost half (48%) of charity workers.
A similar number of respondents said their charity does not have a digital strategy in place. Meanwhile, 57% of people want their leaders to be more confident in moving their charity forward with digital.
A digital skills audit can significantly help charities tackle skills gaps and pinpoint areas of improvement.
A digital skills audit does exactly as it says, it audits the digital skills within an organisation. Carrying out an audit highlights where there are shortages and uses analysis and evaluation to identify weaknesses.
The data from the audit can be used to plan training and prioritise areas where digital skills are needed swiftly. A digital skills audit can also highlight strengths that charity leaders did not even know existed within the organisation. Staff members could be podcasters, web designers, or coders in their spare time, for example.
As well as identifying skills gaps a digital skills audit can be invaluable in digital transformation, where digital is integrated into all areas of an organisation to offer fundamental change to how services are delivered.
This requires a cultural change, from charity leaders to volunteers, to ensure digital is embedded effectively. A digital skills audit can help a charity on this path to transformation by highlighting what is already working and what is needed.
An effective digital skills audit will help map areas such as data, processes, and the ability of an organisation to change. For more information, check out our article: The future of digital transformation.
There are a number of free resources available to help charities to carry out an audit.
This includes Digital Maturity Matrix from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which focuses on strengths and weaknesses and is aimed at charities of all sizes. This matrix takes in issues such as leadership, strategy, technology, communications, cyber-security and data.
Another is Digital Checkup, a tool designed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), which offers charities the chance to map digital capabilities through a series of questions focusing on issues, such as understanding the digital skills of staff and volunteers and the level of investment in technology.
The SCVO checkup tool also focuses on more detailed areas, such as the extent to which cloud-based technology, video conferencing, online booking systems and collaboration tools, are used.
Meanwhile, data and research social enterprise Data Orchard has produced a Data Maturity Assessment Tool to find out how data-savvy a charity is. This free tool audits five stages of charities’ digital progress, from being unaware, to emerging, learning, developing, then mastering.
This focuses on key themes including data, tools, leadership, skills and analysis.
Crucial to a successful digital skills audit is evaluating the data and putting the findings into action. It pays to take care and be honest, not overselling or underselling a charity’s capabilities, to significantly bolster an organisation’s digital skills set.
The NCVO has carried out an assessment of how charities have been using its Digital Maturity Matrix, which has produced striking findings. This found that organisations are perhaps too pessimistic about their ability to embed digital across their organisation.
Those completing the tool gave their organisation a low score of 36% on average. Very few organisations gave themselves top scores, which involved describing themselves as ‘highly effective’ or having ‘some success’ across different areas of digital.
Small charities, with an annual income of less than £100,000 and large charities, with an annual income of more than £1m, are among the most likely charities to give themselves low scores, in areas such as expertise and capacity, as well as leadership and strategy.
But, the NCVO data shows, organisations are ambitious about improving their digital capabilities. On average those completing the Digital Maturity Matrix wanted to double their score in all areas of digital, even when they were scoring highly.
A key way to use the data from a digital skills audit is to move forward with staff and volunteer training. When planning training charities should focus on the best needs of the organisation and prioritise areas where staff have a particular weakness or gap in their knowledge which is hampering performance.
This training programme should be tailored to the needs of each charity.
When focusing on training, focus on skills that can be acquired and taught, rather than attempting to alter the personality of workers or volunteers. Tailor training to their strengths and where they can improve.
Above all, set clear targets and objectives, regularly carrying out a skills audit to ensure charities are ready to meet the evolving set of skills required to embed digital across an organisation.