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Why we need a charity digital code of practice

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Why we need a charity digital code of practice

This guest blog is written by Zoe Amar, founder of Zoe Amar Digital.

Over the last year we’ve seen a growing number of reports about how charities are struggling with digital. The latest Lloyds Bank’s UK Business Digital Index revealed that more than 100,000 charities do not have basic digital skills, whilst the number of charities with low digital capabilities has grown from 12% to 16%.

That same report showed that 50% of charity leaders lack confidence in introducing digital change. Meanwhile, our latest Charity Digital Skills Report showed that staff also worry their own leadership teams are falling behind in this area: the majority of charities (69%) cite their board’s digital skills as low or having room for improvement. An increasing number of charities (58%) now see funding as their biggest obstacle to digital progress.

Digital skills are not a luxury. They are vital to help the sector increase impact, efficiency and sustainability. Lloyds Bank’s study revealed that the more digitally mature charities are twice as likely to see an increase in donations. And digital isn’t just about channels; it’s really about how charities can, like any other sector, be relevant and fulfil their purpose in the online age.

We are not alone in this challenge. I hear from colleagues everyday in other industries who face the same issues. And I’m delighted to say that the charity sector is coming together to tackle this.

It’s right that all charities, whether large or small, regardless of size, budget, or cause, are able to embrace digital. Whilst there are some resources and support available to support charities, much of it is fragmented, and there is no consistent framework for the sector to work towards. Charities need to have a clear idea of what they are aiming for as well as how they need to change their own working practices and behaviour.

That is why a group of organisations will be working together to create The Charity Digital Code of Practice. It aims to develop charities’ digital skills, improve take up of digital activity in charities, and create a level playing field for all organisations by increasing digital motivation and confidence. Through the code, we want to make charities more accessible for beneficiaries, create new opportunities for funders to engage with digital and enhance collaboration across the sector.

The code will be free to access for everyone and there will be versions for smaller as well as larger organisations. Both will cover best practice guidelines.

The Charity Digital Code of Practice will be developed by a steering group of charity leaders (in consultation with the wider sector) including representatives from the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), The Small Charities Coalition, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Office for Civil Society, and the Charity Commission. It is due to launch at the end of 2018, with the consultation opening this summer, and will be funded by Lloyds Banking Group and the Co-op Foundation. I am delighted to be chairing the steering group.

This is a really exciting, innovative project, which goes to the heart of what we want the future of the charity sector to look like.

We are really keen to hear from you about what you’d like from the code. It’s ultimately your code and the sector’s code, and we’d love to hear your views. So please do get involved in the consultation process. We’re also encouraging you to share your views about the code and what you want from it by using the hashtag #charitydigitalcode.

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