There is a digital skills gap within the charity sector, which is holding back the development of some smaller charities.
This is one of the findings from the 2016 UK Business Digital Index from Lloyd’s, released today.
How charities are using digital
The Charities’ Index score has increased by six points to 42 since 2015. In fact, charities have made progress in almost every metric for digital maturity:
- 74% charities are searching for information online compared to 49% in 2015.
- 60% are now advertising online vs. 30% a year ago.
- 34% are now also taking online payments, vs. 12% in 2015.
- 21% are making sales or taking orders online, vs. 10% in 2015
- 47% are making online payments vs. 18% in 2015.
This is an area of improvement for charities, with 53% now accepting donations online.
Percentage of charities taking online donations, 2015 vs. 2016
47% of charities say increased donations are one of the main advantages to using digital, up from 36% in 2015. Moreover, charities which have adopted digital are 28% more likely to report an increase in turnover or funding than ‘less digital’ charities.
Improving digital skills
Charities are becoming more aware of the need for digital skills, with 22% investing money in digital skills in 2016, up from 12% in 2015.
Charities are more likely to look to more informal and free forms of advice than they were in 2015:
- The proportion searching online has risen to 46% from from 11% in 2015
- Those going to a friend, colleague or relative for advice has increased from 45% to 62%.
- Those looking to business peers for advice has risen steeply, from 4% in 2015 to 42% this year.
- There has been an interesting rise in the proportion of charities going to gov.uk for advice, from 0% in 2015 to 22% in 2016.
That said, charities are much more likely than previously to go to a consultant for advice, rising from 12% to 28% in the past year.
They are also more likely to recruit to cover digital roles, up from 3% in 2015 to 18% in 2016.
72% of charities (144,000) state they need to develop the skills to help protect their organisation online.
Barriers to development of digital skills
A lack of understanding of the benefits of digital, as well as the belief that digital isn’t relevant are the main barriers to charities doing more online.
However, charities are moving in the right direction, with fewer respondents saying this compared to last year.
The qualitative research undertaken for the study suggests that, for charities, relatively high turnover of staff and volunteers means it is difficult to retain digital skills.
Charities are often heavily reliant on individual volunteers coming forward to help, rather than keeping skills within the organisation itself.
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