First Digital Code of Practice announced

Experts from the charity sector to launch UK’s first Charity Digital Code of Practice later this year

Austin Clark | 28th Mar 18

Key organisations from across the sector are coming together to develop The Charity Digital Code of Practice.

As the need to improve the sustainability, impact, and efficiency of charities across the UK intensifies, The Charity Digital Code of Practice will aim to improve digital skills and increase the take up of digital activity in charities. This will help organisations deliver on their charitable purpose in an increasingly digital age.

The Code of Practice is due to launch at the end of 2018, with a consultation on the content opening this summer, and will be funded by Lloyds Banking Group and the Co-op Foundation.

The sector is being encouraged to join the conversation about the code on social media by using the hashtag #charitydigitalcode.


Falling behind

Staff within the sector acknowledge that the charity sector is falling behind others when it comes to digital skills. The Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2017 showed that only 48% of charities have full basic digital skills, and 50% of charity leaders lack confidence in introducing digital change.

Charity sector staff also feel their own leadership teams are falling behind in this area: the majority of charities (69%) cite their board’s digital skills as low or having room for improvement, while a growing number of charities (58%) now see funding as their biggest obstacle to digital progress, according to the recent Charity Digital Skills Report.

This skills gap is not only having an impact on efficiency, but it’s also having a detrimental effect on the ability of charities to fundraise. The Lloyds Bank’s study revealed that the more digitally mature charities are twice as likely to see an increase in donations.

The new digital code aims to close this gap and create a level playing field by increasing digital motivation and confidence in all charities. It will help organisations who are worried about a lack of budget or skills to understand where they can make improvements.

It is hoped that the code will make charities more relevant and accessible for beneficiaries, create new opportunities for funders to engage with digital activity and  increase collaboration across the sector. It will be free to access and open to all charities and there will be a version of the code for small charities as well as larger organisations.


Practical support

The code will include best practice guidelines as well as practical tips and advice. It will be developed by a steering group of charity leaders (in consultation with the wider sector) including representatives from the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), The Small Charities Coalition, the National Council For Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission. It will be chaired by Zoe Amar, an independent, digital expert.

Zoe said: “I am delighted to be involved in this innovative project which will bring much needed support for digital activity in charities across the UK. The charity sector has recognised a need for digital improvement and is coming together to work on the solution. We’re all looking forward to developing the new code and seeing an increase in digital skills and practices to make the sector more digitally confident, efficient and sustainable.”

Jamie Ward-Smith, Chair of the Co-op Foundation and Executive Chair of DoIt.Life, commented: “Digital is a critical tool for the future efficiency and sustainability of charities, with the potential to transform how they deliver services, raise funds and engage more volunteers. It is important that the voice of small charities in particular is heard, as new resources and best practice guidelines are developed for the sector. That is why we are funding the Small Charities Coalition, to enable them to play a major role in this project.”

Leigh Smyth, Group Transformation, Capability and Inclusion Lead at Lloyds Banking Group added: “Digital inclusion is critical to the UK and as part of our Helping Britain Prosper agenda we place a great focus on supporting the growth of digital skills in many sectors and are proud to support the Charity Digital Code of Practice. Increasing digital skills for charities will bring many significant benefits such as increased donations, reduced time and costs and will help to make them sustainable for the future.”