Majority of charities struggling with the digital agenda » Charity Digital News

Majority of charities struggling with the digital agenda

Charity digital leaders have concerns over the progress being made to make their organisations more digitally minded, a new report has revealed.

Business Transformation and the Role of Heads of Digital, says that digital teams feel they are struggling to get the full backing for digital transformation from all departments within their organisations.

The survey, produced for not-for-profit IT service provider Eduserv with input from CharityComms, asked over 300 charity digital heads for their input.

It discovered that 95 per cent of them believe their organisations have no HR strategy for improving the digital capabilities of their staff and mindsets need to shift in order to fully embrace the digital transformation.


Success stories

The report did, however, highlight some success stories, including one from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which has expanded its volunteer base by 450 per cent as a direct result of its HR and digital teams working together to allow staff in all departments to use a variety of tools, including Skype, Yammer and Office 365, to bring them closer to the people they serve.

Lucy Semmens, former director of strategy and performance at the trust, said: “Our digital strategy isn’t just about the website. What we’ve looked at first is how we engage with each other as colleagues and with the wider community in a more direct and personal way.

“The culture you need around transformation, the HR issues that come out of that, the technology – they just go hand in hand now. I would get very frustrated now if digital and IT were making decisions without HR being at the table every time.”


Lessons to be learned

Key findings from the report are:

The transformation message is not getting through

“The vast majority of heads of digital still face a real challenge getting their message across and influencing the bigger picture. The idea that digital transformation means a fundamental shift in the way charities work simply isn’t reaching or being understood by the rest of the organisation, particularly in areas like finance, operations and HR. This puts a real question mark over whether digital departments are able – in their current guise – to play a strategic role in driving organisation-wide transformation.”

A change in language is needed 

“Charities firmly on the road to digital transformation are not necessarily seeing this led by their digital department. While this is good for the organisation – and suggests business rather than technology-driven transformation – this finding places a further question mark over how digital leaders need to evolve to be as relevant and effective as they want to be. Heads of digital that want to resolve this situation and drive their own transformation need to encourage their organisation to look at people and processes first before they even think about technology.”

Digital must partner more closely with other departments

“In charities where digital transformation has been successful, digital leads say “collaboration across teams” and “a culture which is supportive of digital change” are among the most important factors. They’re less concerned about digital strategies, which can date quickly. This is corroborated by a number of other business leaders we spoke to, who suggest that by partnering with HR, digital can play a more decisive role in making change happen.”

Heads of digital shoudl consider handing responsibility for delivery to the rest of the organisation

“Less than a third of digital leads think they are the right people to drive digital change. This is partly because they believe that leadership needs to come from the top, but also because they are still too focused on delivery. If digital leads want to promote the value of their role and the extent of their influence in future, they need to have a firm plan for devolving responsibility for day-to-day delivery of digital to the rest of the organisation. This is something of catch-22 situation, because it depends on the skills being available. Again, this is where a better relationship with HR, finance and other leaders will help.”

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