UK’s first Charity Digital Code of Practice launched today

Thursday 15 November 2018

The UK’s first Charity Digital Code of Practice has launched today (15 November 2018) following an extensive consultation and input from across the sector.

The Code, which has been produced to provide charities with practical advice on incorporating digital technology into their work, has been co-funded by Lloyds Banking Group and ourselves at the Co-op Foundation. It has been managed by a steering group of representatives from across the sector and chaired by independent digital expert Zoe Amar. It is voluntary and free to access for all charities.

The need for The Charity Digital Code of Practice was identified following the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2017, which showed only 48% of charities have full basic digital skills, and 50% of charity leaders lack confidence in introducing digital change.

The new code is a key product for the Digital Skills Partnership, which brings together organisations from all sectors to increase digital capability in a collaborative way. It represents an effort from within the sector to level the playing field with other industries and improve the sustainability, impact, and efficiency of charities across the UK. It aims to help organisations deliver on their charitable purpose in an increasingly digital age.

The Code has identified seven principles to be considered by charities wishing to develop their digital activity. The principles cover best practice relating to leadership, beneficiaries and other stakeholders, culture, strategy, skills, adaptability and managing risks and ethics. It also sets out how to measure success when making changes to digital.

Following a consultation period and input from charities of all sizes, a number of resources are being produced to help organisations implement advice from the code. Resources will include how-to guides, video case studies and tips from other charities.

Jamie Ward-Smith, Chair of the Co-op Foundation, co-funder of the Charity Digital Code of Practice, said:

“The new Charity Digital Code of Practice will help charities connect with their online audiences better than ever before, putting them in a stronger position to serve their communities and secure their own futures. The Code will support smaller charities, in particular, to create a digital-first culture where they can raise funds, awareness and connections online for the greatest impact. Co-op Foundation is proud to co-fund the Charity Digital Code of Practice and I encourage all charities of all sizes to read The Code today to help them thrive in the digital age.”

A version of the code has been produced for small charities alongside tailored resources to help charities with tighter budgets and less capacity to understand where they can make improvements. This aspect of the code has been a particular priority for the steering group due to the revelation from the 2018 Charity Digital Skills report that 58% of charities see funding as their biggest obstacle to digital progress.

As well as increasing digital motivation, confidence and skills within the charity sector workforce, advice from the Code will make charities more accessible for beneficiaries and create new opportunities for funders to engage with digital activity. It’s also hoped that the launch, which coincides with Trustees’ Week, will encourage the more than one million 2 charity trustees across the UK engage with the Code and find out more about using digital activity to help their vital work.

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy, Planning and Communications from the Charity Commission said:

“Digital is changing the way the public behaves. For charities to stay relevant, increase the difference they can make, and protect their charity from risks, understanding and engaging with the digital world is vital. The enthusiasm with which the charity sector has responded, and the willingness to use the Code and increase digital skills indicated in the responses, is very positive. As regulator, we want to ensure charities have the information and tools they need to succeed and that’s why we are pleased to continue supporting the development of the Code.”

Nick Williams, Managing Director, Commercial and Business Banking Transformation at Lloyds Banking Group added:

“Lloyds Banking Group is proud to be a co-founder of the Charity Digital Code of Practice, and we are delighted to see it launched today. 99% of charities are now online and more than ever before have basic digital skills. With 60% still not using digital methods to receive donations there is much to do. We must do all we can to support the continued growth of digital understanding, skills and confidence to ensure more charities, and their beneficiaries, are set up for success.”

Charities can access the Charity Digital Code of Practice online and join the conversation about the Code by using the hashtag #CharityDigitalCode

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