10 digital design principles published to guide charity service delivery

Written by Lauren Weymouth

A new set of principles, developed by and for the UK charity sector, have been published to help guide the development of more effective digital services.

The 10 new principles, which have been put together by nonprofits and grantmakers and facilitated by CAST, aim to address a “key gap” in the sector’s digital capacity around service delivery.

The principals come as a response to the 2018 Charity Digital Skills Report, which found charities are failing to adapt to the digital age and respond to the changing needs and expectations of their service users.

According to the report, two-thirds of charity leaders see the potential of using digital to deliver their strategy and services more effectively, but over half of charities see their digital service delivery skills as fair to low. Around half of respondents said they have low to very low digital development skills.

The design principals have been created to align with the needs, language and practice of the UK social sector, aiming to provide clarity on what ‘good’ looks like when developing digital services.

The 10 principals are as follows:

1. Start with user needs, and keep them involved
2. Understand what’s out there first
3. Build the right team
4. Take small steps and learn as you go
5. Build digital services, not websites
6. Be inclusive
7. Think about privacy and security
8. Build for sustainability
9. Collaborate and build partnerships
10. Be open

Commenting on the principals, CAST co-founder and director, Dan Sutch said: “Too many charity services are still failing to respond to the changing digital behaviours and expectations of their users.

“Digital service delivery urgently needs to become a core competency, not a ‘nice to have’. We wanted to bring together sector organisations to co-design a dynamic resource that helps navigate this shift. Tech can be a powerful tool but it's how you use it that's important – these principles are a way of saying 'here's how we do it right' and we hope to see them embedded into organisations’ culture and practices.”

The website betterdigital.services, will house the principles, alongside example stories of how organisations such as Breast Cancer Care, Refugee Action, 360Giving and Alexandra Rose have used them in practice. People can download printable posters of the principles to help them communicate and advocate for good digital practice, and the site has lists of helpful tools and tips suggested by other nonprofits.

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