The Charity Digital Skills Report 2021 provides vital insight into the UK charity sector and shows how charities are embracing digital strategy and prioritising innovation
The Charity Digital Skills Report is an annual overview of the digital skills and attitudes across the UK charity sector. The Report tracks how charity approaches to digital have changed year-on-year and explores the sector’s response to digital, looking at leadership, strategy, governance, and more.
The Charity Digital Skills Report 2021, which was produced by Zoe Amar and Skills Platform, sought to understand the changes that have occurred over a particularly eventful year. Charities are encouraged to use the findings to benchmark their own organisations and learn how other charities are changing.
The Report aimed to answer two important questions:
The results seem mainlypositive, particularly in terms of the adoption of digital. The Report, which is now in its fifth year, shows promising signs of improvement, particularly in challenging the digital divide and thinking of long-term digital strategy. The Report shows a charity sector that seems increasingly dedicated to digital.
In this article, we will look at some of the main takeaways from the Charity Digital Skills Report 2021.
The 2020 Report showed some encouraging signs, but there were some problem areas. More than half of non-profit organisations, according to that report, did not have a digital strategy in place. That statistic had barely changed from 2019 , which demonstrated an absence of commitment to digital.
The 2021 Report shows positive signs of change, with 60% of charities suggesting that they have a digital strategy in place. That’s an incredible 11% increase on the previous year.
Digital has become a priority over the past year and it will continue long into the future. As the 2021 Report shows, more than two thirds of charities (67%) now see digital as a prime concern, with similar numbers planning investment in digital infrastructure.
One potential area of improvement is around leadership. The adoption of digital depends on every member of the charity working together to realise a goal. According to the 2021 Report, CEOs and boards can do more to improve adoption of digital strategies and digital more generally. The report suggests that 52% of charities would like their leadership team to provide a clear digital vision.
The 2021 Report also shows some generally positive effects of the pandemic. For example, digital inclusion has become a key issue for the sector. Over half of charities (52%) are worried about excluding some people or groups, according to the report.
Prior to the pandemic, digital exclusion was underappreciated across the UK charity sector. It was not a concern for many charities – though it was for many service users. The pandemic brought the issue to light, generating a necessary conversation and incentivising change.
The report also showed the innovation was flourishing. The pandemic was a catalyst for change – and perhaps we could expect some form of innovation – but the extent of innovation in the sector is a welcome surprise. More than 80% of charities have started offering online services, according to the report, and almost eight out of ten (78%) have deployed digital to speak to new audiences.
The pandemic forced change, but the changes often seemed beneficial. The challenge of the next year is for charities to carry the lessons of the pandemic into the future.
Burnout and fatigue have become a massive talking point over recent weeks. At Charity Digital, we have noticed a sense of burnout in the charity sector. And the report confirms the need to prioritise wellbeing, as just under a third of charities (31%) said staff are burned out from the demands of intense remote working.
There are no immediate solutions to the problem of burnout, but a sector-wide awareness is a good place to start. Charity leaders and boards need to consider how to support their staff at the end of a very difficult and challenging year. That is one of the key lessons to take into the future – and something that all leaders should consider at length.
Read the Charity Digital Skills Report 2021