Charities may need to look outside the charity sector to find staff with top-notch digital skills
This requires staff with a wide variety of digital skills and competencies including digital fundraising, digital marketing, digital service delivery, digital ethics, (digital) data analytics, digital communications, and so on.
Any charity looking to digitise must ask themselves where those digital skills will come from?
Without the right skills, navigating the transition to digital is impossible, but a charity which has not yet made that transition is unlikely to find that its staff already have those skills.
People working in the charity sector with the right digital skills for specific roles such as digital marketing or digital fundraising may not be that common. This will make them highly sought-after candidates. But in the wider world, there are a huge number of people who are already equipped with a wide array of digital skills.
That means that charities in need of staff with digital skills should look to interview beyond the confines of the charity sector. But where?
The startup sector is a very good place to start. That’s because this sector is premised on the concept of digital.
A particular feature of the startup sector is that jobs within it are very fluid: staff are very mobile, and few people remain at the same company for very long. That means that at any one time there are plenty of digital candidates who have strong digital skills and who are looking for work, or who are open to a change of workplace.
Another good place to look for digital candidates to interview is among university graduates. That’s because these young people are also likely to possess strong digital skills, having grown up in a digital world and exercised those skills as part of many degree courses. And as a result of the pandemic, many job opportunities that graduates may have expected to be available to them are no longer on offer.
The upshot of this is that while there may not be a plentiful supply of people working in the charity sector with the digital skills that are in demand, those skills are available in abundance in other sectors, particularly in the startup sector, and in new entrants to the job market who have not yet found employment.
This provides a huge opportunity for charities looking to make the transition to digital to find candidates with the skill sets that they need to interview. That’s because it is quicker, easier and much less costly to teach someone with the right digital skills how the charity sector works than the alternative, which is to equip a charity veteran with the right digital skills.
That’s not to say that charity veterans can’t be taught the right digital skills, but it’s certainly the case that charities can advance towards digital much faster if they recruit a core group of people at the very least with strong digital skills to act as digital leaders.
With these digital candidates in position as a kind of digital leadership group to guide the digital transformation, the task of upskilling existing staff can be made very much easier. To do that, however, requires the development of suitable training programs for staff, managers, and also members of the charity board.
As a charity moves to digital, it may become apparent that it lacks the right digital skills for specific digital projects which need to be carried out immediately. To fill these immediate skill gaps, one option is to bring digital skills into the charity on an ad-hoc or temporary basis, using outside digital agencies, freelancer platforms, or pro-bono organisations.
There is no shortage of digital agencies who can carry out projects such as designing a website or creating a digital marketing campaign from scratch using highly digitally skilled staff, but a major drawback of this approach is the cost, which can be very high.
The good news is that it may be possible to access the necessary digital skills at very low cost or for free using a pro-bono service such as Datakind, which offers charities the services of highly skilled digital data scientists to work on digital data projects without charge.
Where pro-bono services are not available, there are many low-cost freelance platforms where you can access the digital skills of specialists in fields ranging from digital marketing and SEO optimisation to web analytics and social media communications at a comparatively low cost.
These best platforms to find freelance digital candidates to interview include: