Charity leaders highlight the importance of digital adoption

Written by Lucy Wakeford, Communications Coordinator, DigitalAgenda

DigitalAgenda was proud to be supporting the launch of the very first standalone Charity Digital Index from Lloyds Bank last week. The report was launched in London’s Coin Street Community Centre, which was a fitting setting for a coming together of industry experts from around the country. 

Opening remarks came from DigitalAgenda’s Strategy Director Rachel Neaman, who emphasised the shocking statistic that 26,000 charities do not have the basic digital skills necessary to operate in 2019. Rachel’s introduction was followed by an insightful panel discussion, chaired by Zoe Amar, Founder and director at Zoe Amar Digital, on overcoming barriers to digital adoption. The panel had some astute observations from the report, with Chris Thorpe, Head of Technology at CAST and The Catalyst, highlighting the importance of collaboration in innovation. He said: ‘Digital is about reuse. We waste so much money and create so much bad software by not looking for what’s already out there. Let’s make things open-sourced and build solutions together.’ Matthew Roderick of Helping our Homeless articulated the importance of making the most of young talent, whilst Avril Chester of Cancer Central pinpointed the simplicity of digital adoption: ‘It’s about making things easier.’

Rachel Neaman

Next up, Jemma Waters of Lloyds Banking Group took us through some of the findings of the report. She emphasised the fact that steps forward were being made – 93% of charities do now have essential cybersecurity skills. However, the digital drawbridge is not raising at a necessary pace to keep small charities afloat in the digital world. 38 million people in the UK (73% of the country) now have the ability to transact online. But, only 37% of charities are able to take advantage of this. This is an enormous market that charities just aren’t tapping into. Jemma also discussed the actions Lloyds Banking Group and other industry bodies could do to help charities with their digital adoption. ‘We’ve got to provide clarity on the benefits that technology can bring. Where should you start? What tech should you invest in? We need to support charities and provide information.’

Jemma Waters

The final session of the day, a panel discussion on the benefits of digital adoption, was chaired by Maggie Philbin of TeenTech. The panel, consisting of Tris Lumley of Think NPC, Petra Watkinson of Lloyds Banking Group, and Rita Chadha of Small Charities Coalition, debated whether digital skills support should be implemented on an individual, case-by-case basis, or whether mass transformation should be encouraged. 

The Charity Digital Index ends with three calls to action:

  1. Leaders need to lean into digital
  2. Close the skills gap
  3. Pay it forward

We hope that next year, charities will be one step closer to realising these goals. 

You can read the full Charity Digital Index here.


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