Tech limitations ‘a challenge’ for half of charities, says report

The Charity Bank’s report found that charities are concerned about their digital limitations but recognise the importance of keeping pace with technology.

Joe Lepper | 17th Dec 19
Default CDN Image The Charity Bank’s report found that charities are concerned about their digital limitations but recognise the importance of keeping pace with technology.

More than half of charities see their digital limitations as a challenge to overcome due to the growth of the “technological revolution”, a report has found.

The Charity Bank surveyed 182 charity and social sector leaders for its State of the Sector report and found that 57 per cent see technological limitations as a challenge for next year.

However, while challenging charities are recognising the importance of how digital and technological innovation can “benefit the sector greatly in terms of increasing efficiency and benefitting end users”, states the report.

This is particularly the case in terms of fundraising, says the Charity Bank, which cites the annual Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal raising £780,000 from contactless donations this year, compared to £211,000 last year.

Helping people with disabilities

Among those contributing to the report is George White, Chief Executive Officer of Martha Trust, which supports people with disabilities.

He is particularly impressed with how technology is supporting people with physical and learning disabilities.

“The technology that’s coming in is a really positive move,” said White.

Eyegaze, for example, allows people to communicate by moving their eyes. One client in her thirties has been able to talk to her parents for the first time using it.

“Carers are now also able to update client records as they go. Tech is really taking off and it will continue to do so if we can fund the development of it.”

Another to contribute is Alex Whinnom, Chief Executive of voluntary, community and social enterprise sector support body the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMVCO).

“Tech isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s always worth exploring whether it can do something clever we can afford – show our impact better for example, or advertise better or manage our case loads better,” he said.

“Tech is more likely to add value and benefits than cut costs.”

Tech investment

Charity Bank Chief Executive Ed Siefel added: “While investing in technology can feel like a massive up-front cost and is not without risk, it could ultimately improve the services that charities and social enterprises are able to offer, enriching communities and offering a strong return on technological investment for the social sector.”

Meanwhile, the report also found that 85 per cent of charities expect demand for their services to grow over the next two years and a similar proportion are concerned about future grant funding and donations over that period.

Government policy is a challenge for around 63 per cent of those surveyed, while opinion over the effect of Brexit is divided. While 49 per cent believe the UK’s departure from the EU will present issues, 46 per cent are unclear what it will mean for the sector and 13 per cent think it could create opportunities.