A survey of charity leaders reveals a drop on confidence in using digital technology as charities face a substantial drop in revenue and urgent need to move services online.
A drop in confidence in using digital technology among charities is set to leave many struggling to move services online and reach isolated people in quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has revealed.
A report by think tank New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), called The State of the Sector 2020: The Condition of Charities Before the Covid Crisis, found that 89 per cent of charities see digital as important to achieving their mission.
But charities’ confidence in their ability to use digital technology has dropped by 11 percentage points from 70 per cent to 59 per cent since 2017.
“This may leave them struggling to shift services online to reach isolated people during quarantine and social isolation,” said NPC.
The findings come as charities battle to continue fundraising during the coronavirus pandemic through moving retail and donation appeals online.
Charities are also facing a steep learning curve in finding digital solutions to help staff and volunteers work from home and assist affected communities.
NPC believes that part of the reason for lack of confidence in technology among charities “might be caused by familiarity with this technology. As charities become more familiar with the possibilities, they may become more aware they are not making the ‘best’ use”.
The research involved interviews with 300 charity leaders between November 2019 and January 2020.
“Digital technology could be vital for delivering services under conditions of quarantine or social isolation,” according to NPC.
“There are of course many ways a charity might use digital technology – from enabling more home working, use of social media, through to the very way that vital services are delivered.
“In the current crisis it may be useful to produce some guidance on best practice for using digital technology to deliver their services in the context social distancing and isolation.”
Effective use of data
NPC’s research also highlights the importance among charities of using data. Effectively understanding the needs of users “will be vital if charities are to adapt their work and deliver effective responses to the crisis,” says the think thank
Charities’ appetite to use data has grown, it adds. This year almost all (95 per cent) charities believe that data and evidence are important to achieving their mission. However, in 2017 just 72 per cent of charities thought the results of learning and evaluation were important.
Pandemic to cost charities £4.3bn
Charities sector bodies, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), ACEVO, Charity Finance Group and the Institute of Fundraising, estimate that the coronavirus pandemic is set to cost the charity sector at least £4.3bn in lost income, as events are cancelled and charity shops are forced to close.
The sector organisations say firm government action and substantial funding is needed, as voluntary organisations look to keep up with increased demand amid this substantial funding drop.
“Every day counts here,” said NCVO Chief Executive Karl Wilding.
“I’m hearing from charities whose income has disappeared overnight but who still have to run services for their communities. Many of them have very little emergency cash to tide them over, and even those that do will run out in a matter of weeks.”