Charities ‘failing to use tech to boost donations’

CAF’s latest survey of charity leaders reveals concerns that the sector is not effectively harnessing the power of technology to increase giving.

Joe Lepper | 8th Apr 19
Image shows charity fundraising box next to a laptop

Investing in technology is a top priority for almost nine out of ten charities, but too many are failing to use tech and digital innovations to boost donations, a survey has found.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)’s Charity Landscape survey asked charity leaders key questions about the sector. This found that 87% have either already ensured IT investment is a priority or are planning to do so in the next 12 months. This is up on the findings of last year’s survey, where 83% had already or were planning to invest in IT.

The survey also found that 59% say their charity is using new technology and social media effectively, but only 29% believe charities are using tech effectively to increase giving.

Technology’s double-edged sword

Charity leaders also have mixed feelings about the benefits of new technology. While almost all who were surveyed said technology will help them innovate and find new ways to do good, nearly three quarters believe that technology will change the nature of the problems charities have to address.

A strong social media presence is seen as important for almost all charity leaders surveyed, with 95% having already or are planning to increase their social media work.

However, only 45% said their charity has a strategy in place for dealing with technological change, which drops to 38% among small charities.

CAF is urging charities to ensure they are at the centre of technological change and embrace the role of tech in their organisations.

They should “seek out passionate employees and leaders to help demonstrate the potential for charities and those developing new technologies to work together,” states a CAF report into the Charity Landscape survey’s findings.

CAF also wants the government to ensure that chairities are brought into debates about the future of technology, in particular to ensure tech and digital is developed and implemented ethically.

Brexit another top concern

The Charity Landscape survey also found that Brexit is a major concern, with most charity leaders believing it will have a negative effect on their organisation and beneficiaries.

Funding is another worry, with generating income a top challenge for 59% of charity leaders.

“All organisations are operating in a difficult political and social landscape at the moment; the charity sector is no exception to this,” said Susan Pinkney, CAF Head of Research.

“Charity leaders have spoken with a united and clear voice, emphasising several key points. They are fearful of the impact that Brexit will have, for example on staff retention and the ongoing funding that allows them to provide services for those who need them.”

“Despite this, there are reasons to be optimistic. 87% of charity leaders are investing in technological innovation in order to meet the evolving needs of their beneficiaries, reflecting a strong desire to plan ahead for the future.”