55% of you blame knowledge gap at board level for slow charity digital uptake

After hearing that the charity sector is the least digitally mature of any UK industry, the team at Charity Digital News was keen to discover where this knowledge gap was most prevalent. Here are the poll results and comments.

| 11th Jun 15

Following our recent poll asking you the question, ‘In which areas are charities falling behind digitally?’ we now have your results.

After hearing that the charity sector is the least digitally mature of any UK industry, the team at Charity Digital News was keen to pinpoint this lack of knowledge to a particular digital technology or to at least discover where this knowledge gap was most prevalent.

Over half of you (55%) decided that the knowledge gap at board level is where most charities are having problems. However, web design and big data also came out with significant numbers.


Here’s what respondents had to say:

For those who chose ‘knowledge at board level’:

“Our Principles’ do not understand digital – they are afraid of going digital. There is a sense of a grave leadership deficit which needs to be overcome so that we can exploit the power of Digital in the 21st Century so that our charities convey a new chapter of progress.”

“The issue with charities is that board members are volunteers, have been working in the sector for over 25 years and decide to leave because they don’t have the skills, knowledge, awareness or understanding of the importance of digital skills. During the recession, one of the first areas of funding that was cut was training and unfortunately it’s the last to come back.  In all my years in the sector, the training I’ve received has been dire, as you need to pick the cheapest and shortest.  As someone who very much values continued personal development, I had to leave.  I now run my own Social Enterprise and I’m funding myself to do a CIPD course on blended/online learning.”

“Everybody wants to do social media and sees it needs to be done, but then does not engage with it properly.”

For those who chose ‘All of the above’:

“I was director of a national charity where the CEO wanted to get rid of the web ‘team (one person) as ‘websites run themselves’. Some trustees didn’t use email. I’ve been a committee member of another where IT skills were virtually non-existent (using a calculator to add up columns on a spreadsheet to saying we won’t pay for a website, we’ll get a trustee’s grandchild to do it). I’m now a trustee of a charity where some trustees don’t even use mobile phones. It’s deep and widespread. The Charity Commission should add digital literacy to its checklist of key skills/risk assessment and funders should include digital literacy evidence as part of funding bids. Only with external pressure will people sit up. The people who need these skills don’t even appreciate they haven’t got them, and they certainly aren’t readers of Charity Digital News!”

“In small charities where there is a very small team, often with field experience only, the expertise is in delivering their charitable aims rather than the best way to take advantage of certain things, like technology. At WVI, we have one person whose job it is to do most of the admin. Everything from finance to social media, to grant writing, to engaging the public, to ensuring the trustees are working well. We outsource our website and they are good at advising us about social media and cybersecurity. Cloud technology we embraced because we don’t have a server and needed access at work and at home. But we don’t have the time to review our donation process every time a new product comes on board and at the moment we don’t have the time or funds to analyse the market and embrace ‘big data’. Occasionally, being small, we are able to do massive leaps in embracing technology, but will stay there while we deal with another aspect. So, we fall behind due to a lack of resources.”