Over half of charities have no digital strategy, survey finds

Written by Lauren Weymouth

Over half of charities do not have a defined digital strategy, according to a new survey released by Tech Trust.

The survey, which was conducted for the report No charity left behind: the need for a digital the third sector, was carried out over a period of 30 days in September-October 2017, with 1,261 different organisations taking part.

According to the results, over 58 per cent of charities that took part in the survey say they do not have a defined digital strategy or consider digital to be embedded in their strategy. Tech Trust defined a ‘digital strategy’ as an organisation’s plan to maximise the benefits of data assets and digital technologies for existing processes.

“This doesn’t mean introducing technology for technology’s sake, but instead enabling an organisation to do more, more quickly by identifying opportunities to apply digital solutions to key business challenges,” Tech Trust explained.

Among those with no digital strategy, only 27 per cent of charities said they are positive that they will increase their measurable impact in 2018. However, 92 per cent of those with a digital strategy in place said they expect their measurable impact to increase.

Charity-digital expert Zoe Amar said: “This is proof of the pudding that the charities progressing in digital are either forward thinking or have tackled an issue which could have threatened their future.”

“Digitally savvy organisations are growing in confidence and moving ahead. But what will happen to the charities who are left behind?”

Digital engagement

The report further highlighted that just over half of charities fundraise online. Of those who do maximise the use of digital, 97 per cent have a social media presence and all of the charities that raise over 20 per cent of their funds online are active on social media.

Commenting on the report, Tech Trust head of digital and marketing Matthew Moorut said the release of the publication on digital adoption amongst UK charities comes at a time when digital tech is causing society to “change more than ever, placing more weight on social organisations to cover the inevitable cracks”.

“The flip side of this is that government funding to the third sector is being cut, increasing the importance of operational efficiency in maintaining service-delivery levels, which is something that digital solutions can offer to forward-thinking charities,” he said.

“Ultimately, the evolution of digital tech and the companies driving it brings both great opportunities and serious threats, as can be clearly seen looking back at 2017.

“2017 was another year for serious data breaches and costly cyber attacks, which crippled charities and companies alike […]. Still, while there are critical questions to be considered on the impact of artificial intelligence, algorithms and robotics on jobs and beyond, so far, the results in these areas have been positive.

“We, ourselves, will use the results of our survey to deliver services that better close this divide. Alongside the published results of our study, we have also offered calls to action for charities looking to make progress, which I hope can push the digital agenda within organisations that might otherwise fall behind."

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