Digital skills in the charity sector

Later this week, we’ll be publishing some important research on skills in the charity sector. It’s going to look at what skills charities say their staff have and what they say they’re missing. There are lots of interesting insights for everyone with an interest in charities as employers or employees, including some important findings about diversity. You can sign up to our emails to hear about it when it’s launched.

But today, I’d like to give you a preview of what it says about digital skills.

Our researchers have found that over a third, 36%, of voluntary sector employers believe their staff are missing digital skills. As many as 43% said that their job applicants were missing these skills.

This resonates with other research. For example, the Lloyds Bank Charity Digital Index found that 48% of charities do not have all five ‘basic digital skills’. ‘Problem solving’ is the area with the greatest gap, with only 64% of charities skilled in this area, which includes important tasks like using technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency, using online feedback to influence products and services, and using analytics to improve websites.

Our researchers found that the voluntary sector is doing a little worse on digital skills than the private sector, but better than the public sector. Nevertheless, this skills gap is a serious strategic weakness for the sector as we look to adapt and maximise what we can do in a digital age.

We’re at a crucial time for turning this around. The sector can’t afford to wait and hope things gradually improve over time, or we’ll be left behind and it will be hard to recover.

Supporting charities to increase their skills

But I know this isn’t easy. There are organisations doing amazing digital work, but for many, especially smaller organisations, it’s hard to know where to start.

That’s why NCVO has been involved in helping to create a new initiative called the Catalyst.

The Catalyst is a coalition of major foundations, civil society organisations including NCVO, digital design agencies and the government, seeking to massively accelerate the use of digital in the UK’s voluntary sector. We’re proud to be a founding member.

One of the focus areas for the Catalyst will be to increase the quality and range of support available to help organisations build their digital knowledge and skills.

The Catalyst is going to develop new support for voluntary organisations to help you:

  • develop strong digital understanding in your leaders and trustees
  • access trusted digital skills and expertise
  • develop new products and services that respond to the changing needs of your users.

We also want to support you to save money and innovate more quickly by connecting you to ideas and technology that you can re-use.

As the work of the Catalyst gets going, we’ll make sure that you know about the support that’s available. For now, you can read more about our ambitions or sign up to the newsletter.


NVCO/Bates Wells Trustee Conference 2019

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Megan Griffith Gray, Director of Strategy and Transformation Megan is director of strategy and transformation at NCVO and is responsible for the organisation’s strategy, planning and reporting. She also leads the digital, marketing and technology functions.

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