Digital skills report: Half of charities ‘missing out’

Too many charities are missing out on reaching vulnerable people, improving efficiency and communicating with donors through a lack of digital expertise, says Lloyds Bank’s Charity Digital Index.

Joe Lepper | 29th Nov 19

Only around a half of charities have all the essential digital skills needed to operate effectively in 2019, a report has revealed.

According to the Lloyds Bank Charity Digital Index just 56 per cent of all charities have the full essential digital skills needed to operate in 2019.

Among the most commons skills is to communicate digitally with supporters, but still nine per cent of charities are not able to do this.

The report found that 19 per cent lack skills to update their software and a fifth are unable to digitally respond to customer queries.

In addition, the report has revealed that 26,000 charities (13 per cent) have shown almost no digital activity at all in 2019. This is 10,000 more than in 2018.

However, the report points out that there are 24,000 charities that are almost fully digital, in areas such as social media, mobile banking and using government digital services.

Lloyds said that charities are missing key opportunities to improve by failing to ensure they have such skills.

Around a third of charities say they have saved at least a day a week due to their digital practices.

Many are also missing out on reaching vulnerable people, including those with disabilities. Just 51 per cent of charities have accessibility procedures built into their website.

“This means some of the most vulnerable people in society might be missing out on services designed to help them,” states Lloyds report.

It adds: “Charities with full essential digital skills are one and a half times more likely than those without to have had an increase in revenue, resulting in more resources for people and potential benefit for end users.”

Tech-savvy young charities

Among the most tech-savvy charities are younger voluntary sector organisations that have launched within the last decade. They are more likely to have a focus on mobile tech “so they can place focus on their donors, supporters and beneficiaries”.

Nick Williams, Deputy Group Transformation Director, Lloyds Bank, said: “More and more of our lives are dependent on technology, from doing our banking online to ordering food through an app.

“Charities don’t want to fall behind, and are focusing on hiring tech-savvy employees so they can tap into the advantages of having key digital skills.

“Despite this, charities still don’t know which skills they needs to focus on to grow, and are paying for external expertise to fill this gap so they can stay ahead of the curve and continue to communicate with donors and raise more funds.

“This could come at a cost however, so it’s important charities identify this gap and recruit and retain the best talent.”

Earlier this year the National Council for Voluntary Organisations revealed that more than a third of voluntary sector employers believe their staff are missing digital skills and one in four say their job applicants are without these skills too.