Charity Digital Skills Report – Skills Platform & Zoe Amar
The charity digital skills report has been running for five years and investigates the trends surrounding digital skills, attitudes and support needs across the sector. The survey has been further developed this year to cover a wider variety of topics as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey received 365 responses across the UK.
This report has shown positive findings in the development and prioritisation of digital skills in the past year, also showing positive prospects for future development.
However, the report also shows consistency in barriers towards digital development. Some of the barriers identified are digital inclusion, burnout from remote working and poor IT. Alongside this, there are areas with room for significant development, such as digital fundraising, data use, service development and the development of an online presence.
This report has identified the vital need for foundations to be put in place to support skills, infrastructure and inclusion.
Since the move to remote working, IT has risen from the 6th largest barrier to charity development to becoming the single largest factor. As a result of COVID-19, 83% of charities changed their services to fit the change in demand, with 78% using digital services to reach new audiences. Of the charities who moved to remote working, 67% continue to deliver all services remotely.
Although this shows promise amongst charities and their ability to adapt and innovate in regards to remote working, it has not been easy. Over 1 in 5 charities cancelled services due to their users not having the skills needed to use them, this is 15% higher than at the beginning of the pandemic. Similarly, 20% have cancelled services due to their staff not having the skills or tech needed to run these services and 12% have struggled with basic tech access. Even for those charities who have the knowledge and technology required, 27% have cancelled services because they feel that the services lose their value when conducted online.
The pandemic and the subsequent moved to remote working has placed great pressure on charities. 45% have had to provide users with devices, data or support in order to enable their service users to get online or access services. However, it is not just a physical toll placed on charities. 52% of charities are worried that they are excluding groups of users and 24% are concerned that their audience is not online. 38% say that they have found remote working challenging, exhausting or isolating. As well as this, 31% of charities say their staff are burned out from the intense demands of remote working.
There has also been a large strain financially. 62% say that their need for digital funding has increased. Last year nearly half did not have access to digital funding.
Although digital skill levels amongst charities are not high, there has been a promising increase this year, with 56% rating their basic digital skills as excellent, up from 29% the previous year!
The skills charities are struggling with most are digital fundraising, user research, advanced data use, search engine optimisation and use of digital methods in service delivery. It was also identified that charities struggle to keep up to date with trends with 86% rating themselves as either fair (47%) or poor (39%) at doing so. Those who rated their skills as the lowest were charities who are at the earliest stages of digital transformation.
Although many areas are looking promising, this is not the case for all areas. For a year that forced charities online, it is concerning to see that charities rating themselves as fair or poor at digital service delivery has only decreased to 75% from 83%, a bigger improvement would have been expected for such a transformative year.
Charities appeared more confident in the areas of social media, however the same cannot be said for digital marketing, with 76% rating themselves as fair or poor.
Calls to action
Looking to the future
The future for charities is looking brighter than ever before.
68% of charities intend on using a hybrid model for future working arrangements. 92% say that it is very important or is important for them to work for an organisation that is actively developing digital skills and capabilities. This is a 6% increase on the previous year!
60% of charities now have a digital strategy in place. This is a positive increase from 49% the previous year. Over two thirds see this as a priority for their organisation and are planning to invest more in digital infrastructure and systems.
This blog was developed using the Charity Digital Skills Report 2021 by Skills Platform and Zoe Amar. To read the full report, click here https://report.skillsplatform.org/charity-digital-report-2021/ (We would recommend reading it!)
How we can help
The Digital Safety CIC hold charities at the heart of their work and will therefore be available for free no obligation consultations to help you strengthen your charity’s digital strategy, security and development. The Digital Safety CIC are currently conducting research into how charities can be supported best to overcome the affects of covid-19 and the move to remote working. Contact us through our website or through our Social Media and we would love to show you the benefits and invaluable peace of mind that the Digital Safety CIC can bring to your organisation.