Charities not embracing digital identity checking – report

The study by Yoti found a raft of barriers among charities to using digital to improve identification systems, including carrying out criminal records checks.

Joe Lepper | 23rd Nov 18
Image shows fingerprint on a keyboard representing digital identity

Charities are reluctant to use digital technology to improve their ‘weak’ systems for checking the identity of staff, volunteers and service users, according to a study.

The study by digital identity app Yoti found that awareness of digital identity technology among UK charities is low.

Many do not see it as relevant, even though checking the identity of staff, volunteers and services users is a vital part of their work.

A particular concern raised is a reluctance to use digital identification among charities that need to carry out criminal records checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service. This is despite many admitting that their existing systems of checking are poor.

“The need for digital identity solutions were most apparent to those verifying the legal identity of beneficiaries or undertaking DBS checks regularly for staff and volunteers,” states the study.

It adds: “Many of the charities checking legal identity recognised that their processes here were weak but very few were exploring digital identity solutions, or even saw them as an organisational priority.”

Instead of prioritising digital identification much of charities’ technology focus is on fundraising, developing a digital strategy, digital transformation, training and using technology to improve face to face contact with beneficiaries.

Lack of skills a barrier

Many see their lack of knowledge and skills as a barrier to putting in place digital identification.

“They felt that their internal systems were too complicated to change and that digital identity solutions were too advanced to integrate with their current technology. They were also concerned about staff skills, connectivity and their own access to technology,” states the study.

Lack of time and capacity as well as staff costs were other barriers to putting in place digital identification systems among charities.

Research took place between August and October and involved 33 charitable organisations, four digital agencies and 11 support sector organisations across the UK.

The findings from the research are being added to Yoti’s onging social impact strategy, which is looking at the challenges faced in the not for profit sector around identity checks.