7 things you can do about the Code in 30 minutes a day

Zoe Amar, Chair of the Charity Digital Code of Practice, breaks down some the most crucial actions from the Code, and how charities can make a difference in just half an hour a day.

Guest Writer | 16th Nov 18
Image shows a person on a computer with a clock painted on the floor around them.

I am thrilled to share with you the new Charity Digital Code of Practice. Have you ever had a conversation with a colleague where you felt frustrated that they didn’t share your digital ambitions? Or do you secretly worry about, whilst your organisation is smashing it on digital right now, how you’ll build on this success?

That’s why the Code has been developed- to establish a framework for success across the sector. As the Chair, I’m the first to admit that there is a lot in the Code. That is because there is obviously a lot to do to both raise standards across the sector, and to keep challenging those organisations who are digital pioneers and need to take things further.

We want to make The Charity Digital Code of Practice manageable for everyone so here are seven things you can do, each taking just 30 minutes a day, to get started with it, whatever stage you are at.

Each of these seven things will only take half an hour. Just think, if you can commit to doing just two of them each week you can help your charity get ahead in less than a month – and that should be music to the ears of your CEO and board.


1. Grab a coffee with one of your leaders

Want to look good in front of your senior management team? Ask for 30 minutes of their time and offer to brief them about the headlines from the Code that are most relevant to your charity.

The Code is divided into 7 key principles setting out best practice for large and small charities. So for example, you might say that your charity is doing well against the best practice identified in the adaptability and user principles, but has more to do in the risk and ethics and skills areas. Then ask them to do three simple things differently. They could be as easy as ‘can we talk about the Code at the next leadership team meeting?’

They are more likely to say yes if it’s easy for them to agree and you’ve shown them where the gaps are and why these need to improve.


2. Gain user insights.

I worry that we see user testing as something that always has to be very complex and expensive. Of course, the more you can invest the greater the depth of insights. But we could be missing the gems that we all have at our fingertips.

It could be taking 30 minutes to look at Google Analytics to see which content is most popular, or just asking a small group of beneficiaries which digital channels they use and why.

I know one charity who do ‘guerrilla’ user testing with people in their local café about proposed changes to their website (NB they always check that they fall into their target audience).

Pick one of these techniques, commit to doing it for half an hour, and you’ll learn something valuable. What else can you do to create a cycle of continuously testing, learning and improving what you do.


3. Talk to someone from an organisation’s whose culture you admire.

In my experience all organisations experience issues with collaboration, siloes or having the courage to try new things. I bet you can think of at least one organisation who you wish your charity was similar to. Think outside the box.

One small charity I know had a good relationship with a supplier who was a local tech company and they wanted to emulate their energy, ability to pilot new ideas quickly and learn from what works and what hadn’t.

Why not ask your dream organisation to share the secrets of their culture in a 30 minute call? Or ask to sit in on one of their team meetings to see how their behaviour drives digital change?


4. Revisit your strategy.

A charity CEO who I admire said to me recently, ‘Digital shouldn’t just be at the heart of your strategy. Digital should BE your strategy.’ Why not offer to run a 30 minute slot at your next strategy awayday where colleagues bring along their ideas on ‘if we were starting our charity today, how would we use digital differently?’


5. Invest in skills.

Gaining digital skills can take time and resources so we’ve put together links to lots of free courses and tools on our site. Why not take a look at them for half an hour over a cuppa? Or offer to sit with a colleague who needs to increase their confidence with digital and highlight the resources which could help them.


6. Unearth hidden risks.

As part of the user testing for the Code we heard from some charities that they weren’t clear about the liabilities on either side when signing up to contracts with tech suppliers, or wish they had done the procurement differently.

Whilst this doesn’t happen all the time, and there are some great suppliers out there, it is a good idea to ask yourself some simple questions when embarking on a new relationship: what problem does this solve? What are the alternatives, and how do I know it is value for money? Taking 30 minutes to think this through could save you a lot of heartache later.


7. Get ready for the future.

One of the key lessons from the Code is that every organisation needs to adapt to survive and thrive. This case study of Kodak from Harvard Business Review shares lots of useful lessons. Why not spend 30 minutes to work through the 3 questions at the end and consider how your charity can make disruption work to its advantage?


The Charity Digital Code of Practice has been created by a group of organisations including Charity Digital, CFG, the Charity Commission, Office for Civil Society, DCMS’ Digital Enterprise Delivery Taskforce, ACEVO, NCVO, SCVO and more, plus more than forty charities of all sizes who have helped test and shape it. It’s been funded by Lloyds Banking Group and the Co-Op Foundation. We’d love to hear what you think.