Key findings from the Charity Digital Skills Report and how to address them

What are the key points raised in the recent Digital Skills report and how can charities use the report to their advantage?

| 3rd Apr 17

The Digital Skills Report has been published by Skills Platform to offer sector-specific insight into the capabilities and goals of charities and health services in the UK.

It comprises survey results from almost 500 organisations to give an accurate overview of the current state of digital skills in the sector.

Here are some of the key points raised in the report and some useful tools and potential solutions for charities.


50% of charities don’t have a digital strategy.


The issue:

Although only 50% have a developed digital strategy, there is clear ambition to improve:

  • 66% want a good digital strategy.
  • 86% stated they want to work for a digitally capable charity

A strong digital strategy is at the forefront of that capability. That means charities have to make a pretty urgent change if they want to keep up to date.

The return on investment makes itself very clear in the long term. Charities are clearly aware of this as two thirds were worried they would miss out on opportunities if they did not improve their use of digital.

The solution:

If you feel you need all the help you can get then consultancy may be right for you. You can look at this list of charity specific consultancies to find a good fit.

Many charities are financially stretched as it is. There are numerous resources online to help you produce an outline, ranging from simple to highly integrated strategies.

These can’t give directly applicable advice on all of your content but they can get you started at little or no cost. These offer tips on the key elements of a digital strategy, from fundraising to SEO to social media.

Some examples include:

  • White Fuse Media: This article considers some of the things to be considered when building your strategy, from identifying goals to analysing and adjusting it along the way.
  • NCVO: Unfortunately this one will set you back £8.99 if you want full access. It does, however, provide a more extensive and detailed step by step guide to building a charity specific strategy. It also comes in an easily digestible video form and you can watch short clips before buying to decide if it would be worthwhile.
  • Just Giving: this article is brief but a good introduction to understanding digital strategies. It offers food for thought so you can develop your strategy independently.
  • Charity Digital: this blog provides a detailed checklist of every element of a digital strategy.
  • Charity Today: this article is useful as it shares advice given by a non-profit CEO who has seen the benefits of digital strategy.


53% believe their infrastructure needs improvement.


The issue:

‘Digital infrastructure supports the use and connections between content, data, hardware and software, much of which can be shared over the internet’. – IT Law Wiki

So it’s basically any hardware or software you have that aids the creation, recording or sharing of any form of data. For many charities this is due to high costs and small budgets.

Many organisations rely on old computers and non-updated programs which limits the success that can be had with digital tools.


The solution:

There are great solutions out there for non-profit organisations.


Few large computer companies run initiatives that grant charities access to refurbished hardware (outside of Scotland). Luckily Microsoft do, meaning you can get top of the range systems at discounted prices.

Equally, CFC are an organisation that refurbishes donated computers and offers them to organisations.

Beyond computers, server companies such as Cisco offer charity rates that mean normally extremely costly hardware can be relatively affordable. To get a clear breakdown of pricing take a look at the Charity Digital site.


As mentioned above, Charity Digital is a charity that runs a programme offering either donated or heavily discounted software.

This means all that is paid is a small administration fee, reducing prices by over 90% in most cases. You can take a look at their catalogue of products here.

Examples of what’s available include Microsoft, Adobe and Symantec.

Microsoft also offer their cloud based options such as Office 365 directly here, while Google also offer Google for Nonprofits.


64% say their knowledge of how their audience use digital is fair to low.


The issue:

24% also state outright that they do not know enough about their users. This basically means a quarter of charities aren’t making the most of their data analytics.

This is surprising given that 93% believe they keep up with digital trends, which suggests there is a need for more conscious effort to tailor what information is collected.

Not getting to know your users means you can’t give them the experience they are looking for, undermining chances for engagement or donations. If a majority of your audience are looking to reach your site on mobile, for example, your drop-off rate will be high if it isn’t optimised to do so.


The solution:

With Google Analytics, you have the option to track user flows to see through what channel they reached you, on what type of device and for how long (among many other things).

These analytics allows you to adjust elements of user experience accordingly, thereby upping engagement and donations.

75% of the charities surveyed are aware that generally improved digital skills can help with fundraising and 60% believe they can create better services.

Increasing fundraising and improvement of services are two of the main things charities can use analytics for so get yourself set up with a google account today.