From reports and toolkits to agency support and frameworks, we list the best digital resources for charities
All charities need a helping hand with their operations and efficiency to ensure they are making the most of their capabilities, in particular around digital.
Thankfully, there is a wealth of digital resources available to help. This includes online reports, looking at the latest charity sector data, as well as digital tools to analyse all aspects of charities work, from Brexit readiness to targeting communities most in need.
Expert help from agencies and consultancies is also available, as are frameworks and templates to help charities in a range of ways. This includes resources in managing their staff and volunteers in blended and flexible working arrangements, as well as strategy planning tips and help designing the perfect marketing campaign.
Here we examine some of the best digital resources available for charities.
Think tank Pro Bono Economics has set up the Law Family Commission on Civil Society to produce a raft of online reports and research into the full potential of the UK’s civil society.
It is chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell and involves charity sector leaders, including NCVO chief executive Karl Wilding. Its work is being supported by the Law Family Charitable Foundation. According to Pro Bono Economics, the aim is to “steer an ambitious programme of ground-breaking research into how best to unleash the full potential of the UK’s civil society”.
Its first report, Civil Action: exploring civil society’s potential in the 2020s, was published in November 2020 and details how the value of the charity sector is being dramatically underestimated, by as much as £160bn. This contains useful advice on how important charities’ volunteer base is to the UK economy.
Other resources from the Commission include a downloadable report on the views of 21 thinkers, activists, professionals, writers, and academics on the potential of charities.
For charities that employ a significant number of EU nationals, legal firm Stone King have developed a free online audit tool to assess their readiness for Brexit in 2021 and highlight areas where action is needed.
This online tool also looks at the sponsorship responsibilities of charities. The digital tool asks various questions, including how many EU nationals are employed and whether charities have any premises in the EU. The likelihood of staff travelling within Europe is also covered.
Data around COVID-19 is vital to help charities to plan ahead. This is relevant not only during the pandemic, but also as society recovers. Such data can help charities assess their support, areas of greatest need, and staffing levels.
Think tank New Philanthropy and the Health Foundation have stepped in to support the charity sector with an interactive dashboard, pulling together latest demographic statistics around the health crisis from Public Health England, among others.
COVID -19 Data for Charities and Funders is a vital tool that brings together an array of data into one place and helps charities with their operations and efficiency.
A useful report to help charities assess their digital capabilities and areas for improvement is Access Group’s digital maturity report.
This looks at areas such as digital culture and has found that around a third of charities believe that their digital maturity is “very much still a work in progress”.
A key aim of the report is to provide charities with a benchmark to judge themselves in their continuing progress towards becoming a digitally mature organisation, as well as sharing ideas and encouraging collaboration.
The report is accompanied by online discussion resources, including “making digital disruption work for your organisation” and “using digital communication to boost supporter engagement”.
Charities can access a raft of free downloadable templates to help charities meet their marketing and strategic aims.
Among these resources is the Media Trust’s Digital Marketing Strategy Template, which uses a step-by-step guide to completing the best template for each charity.
This online resource also features an example of what a completed template should look like, from small arts charity Trajectory Theatre. This is accompanied by a digital objective builder to focus charities on measurable strategic goals for digital activities.
Another set of templates available to charities is Hubspot’s collection of editorial calendar templates. This Microsoft Excel template includes bonus templates for Google Calendar, planning blog posts, and other online content
Charity sector insurer Ecclesiastical and the Philanthropy Company have launched an online fundraising resource offering guidance and research data to help charities apply for grants and access fundraising opportunities.
This fundraising hub’s digital resources include a series of webinars from the Directory of Social Change offering further guidance. This includes advice on fundraising trends, planning, and how to strengthen digital capabilities.
Ecclesiastical Charity Director Angus Roy claims: “We’ve developed the charity fundraising hub to provide guidance and advice to charities as they look to the future, and help them to be more resilient during this very challenging period and beyond.”
The Charity Excellence Framework has emerged in recent years as an invaluable resource hub for charities’ operation and efficiency.
This includes its free funder lists to help charities access funding from the UK’s grant making charitable trusts and foundations. The COVID-19 funder database is particularly useful amid the current health crisis.
There are also more than 25 downloadable funder lists, more than 20 funder research lists, as well as three downloads of more than 100 free funding finders. These resources are continuously updated.
Further resources cover fundraising, including festive fundraising and a toolkit on fundraising strategy amid COVID-19 recovery. Another resource covers finance advice such as how charities can save money without cutting costs.
Earlier this year the NCVO took down pay walls for its online Knowhow resources, which offer a suite of advice on operation and efficiency areas covering governance, safeguarding, and campaigning. NCVO membership is still required to access particular resources, such as sample documents and templates for trustees in its board basics section.
Also included among Knowhow resources is updated guidance on engaging with and managing volunteers. This contains the latest advice around COVID-19 restrictions.
Another vital resource is a section on designing and structuring annual reports. This includes tips on identifying and engaging with audiences and examples of good practice in reporting. There is also one on ensuring annual reports are produced with digital in mind and can be accessed easily online.
The Charity Fraud Awareness Hub offers a raft of resources and guidance on charities to ensure their operations are protected from cyber threats.
It is run by the regulator Charity Commission, alongside UK Finance and the Fraud Advisory Panel, and features helpsheets, case studies, tools, and webinars.
There is also some of the latest advice on how to report digital crime, including infographics and a checklist of guiding principles to reporting incidents. This contains the message that “the first step to fighting fraud is to find it” and encourage open discussions among staff about criminal threats to an organisation.
Another source of cybercrime resources is the Charities Security Forum, which represents information security experts working in the charity sector. Resources include a LinkedIn discussion group and sector specific reports and blogs.
Charity communication group CharityComms has a range of resources to help charities ramp up their use of digital, including access to podcasts, interviews, and case studies on how charities are successfully pivoting their communication online.
Tools include a FilmKit to help charities make films that engage audiences and make an impact. Also featured is a Digital Benchmark, which involves more than 70 charities pooling their digital data to help the sector compare and evaluate their online performance.
Charity digital consultant Zoe Amar has advised charities including the NSPCC and offers a range of online resources to support charities bolster their digital capabilities. This includes resources focusing on digital strategy, leadership, and governance. Her resources around digital include a ‘Starts At The Top’ podcast and a Third Sector Digital Leaders Programme.
Amar is also chair of the Charity Digital Code of Practice, which sets out seven principles for charity professionals to ensure they are relevant in the digital age. Leadership, digital culture, skills, and managing risks and ethics are among the issues covered.
Among its resources is a COVID-19 digital checklist to help leaders make better decisions around digital during the pandemic.
Support from the agency includes a cross channel audit looking at communication across email, social media and website content. Another is a social media audit to look at types of content, how well it is meeting objectives and how well it is engaging with target audiences.