On day 21 of our advent post series, let's address the digital skills gap in charities.
Charities are keen to embrace digital, but many face a significant barrier: a lack of digital skills. The Charity Digital Skills Report reveals that more than half of charities have no strategic approach to digital.
This gap naturally affects their ability to use technology effectively, e.g. they might struggle to manage their donors' data using online tools or to engage with their audience on social media.
Many charities, especially smaller ones, often stick to traditional methods as a result. This isn't necessarily due to a reluctance to embrace technology, but rather a gap in understanding how to effectively apply it to their operations.
Let’s illustrate the issue: a charity that doesn’t have basic digital skills but has funds to hire help may spend a lot of money on IT support for basic things like accessing emails, setting up meetings online and things like that.
But there is a bigger picture here too. A key element of charities is how they’re values-led and purpose-driven. These are exactly the kind of organisations who are well-placed to identify societal issues and understand what problems there are, and even how they could solve them using technology.
Now, the issue is that if charities don’t understand digital technology, they may not realise that their world-changing ideas could actually become a reality. If they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’, they wouldn't for example reach out to a developer team to create a bespoke tool that could solve a challenge they identified.
Recently, we worked together with ARC Scotland to develop a bespoke web app, Compass, that helps young people manage their transition from out of school into adult life.
They were a charity, they understood they had a challenge they needed to solve at scale, but didn’t have the technical expertise to solve the problem with technology. WheelHouse was able to fill that gap, help them secure funding, and develop a web app for young people, their parents & carers, and professionals that support them as they transition between life stages.
We think the solution to the digital skills gap is to create more opportunities for charities to work with private sector companies and consultants to help them better understand what they need. Catalyst is doing amazing work enabling exactly this sort of support for charities, and that’s an admirable thing to do. Let’s hope as we move forward, more and more organisations will recognise the need to close the digital skills gap.