The Charity Digital Code of Practice – Helping charities join the Fourth Industrial Revolution
30 November 2018 | By Emily Clarke
The first digital code of practice for charities launched this month – a brand new resource for our sector to improve our tech skills and increase the use of digital in our organisations. With rapid advances in technology worldwide, what is becoming known as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is sweeping the globe – but charities are struggling to keep up.
The 2018 Charity Digital Skills Report shows that almost half (45%) of charities do not have a digital strategy, while 58% said funding is the biggest barrier to progressing in digital, and 51% do not have the appropriate skills in their organisation.
Following a consultation involving a survey of 141 charity representatives, it was revealed that while embracing digital is a significant difficulty in the charity sector, 60% want to increase digital skills in their organisation; more than a quarter want their Boards to get behind digital; and 16% want more support from their leadership team to improve their charity’s digital capabilities.
In response to this, The Charity Digital Code of Practice has been developed – designed to help charities use digital to increase impact, develop skills and improve sustainability. Funded by the Co-op Foundation and Lloyds Banking Group, the Code is free of charge to access and sets out principles and best practice for success for both large and small charities – there being a tailored code for each.
With the aim to make digital more accessible to charities of all sizes, the Code intends to create a level playing field for all organisations and to make charities more accessible for beneficiaries and funders. A variety of charities are already using it: the NSPCC, Age UK, Clic Sargent, World Vision UK, YHA, Knowsley CVS and the Innovate Trust.
Focusing on seven principles – Leadership, User-Led, Culture, Strategy, Skills, Managing risk and ethics, and Adaptability – the Code has outlined these values to show how digital touches much of what a charity does and how it will need to be considered accordingly.
Here are some of our highlights from the Code:
- Perhaps most salient of these principles is Leadership; the code states that ‘Digital isn’t just about channels. It’s a strategic and governance issue and charity leaders need to know how digital could help’. Digital, just like fundraising, should truly be incorporated into all areas of an organisation’s work.
- We firmly believe here at Cause4 that fundraising should be part of the culture in a charity – not just the mission of the fundraising team. The Charity Digital Code adds how digital should be part of the culture too – and we couldn’t agree more. Making digital part of your values, behaviours, and ways of working will develop the confidence and motivation of staff and volunteers in digital, and empower people to share new ideas. As Charity Digital News quoted one charity CEO: ‘Digital shouldn’t just be at the heart of your strategy. Digital should BE your strategy’.
- One way of ensuring your organisation is leading on digital is to ensure that you have a digital representative on your Trustee Board. According to Reach Volunteering, 30% of Boards have no digital plan, and only 11% are planning any training in this area – while only 4% actually have a digital Trustee. Through our Trustee Leadership Programme, we know just how important a Trustee’s skillset is to a charity – invaluable expertise that we’re delighted to see is recommended by the Charity Digital Code. It’s also a digital plan that you can implement whether you are a large or small charity – Trustees are a priceless asset to every charity.
Here at Cause4, we’re all about supporting charities to adapt to a rapidly changing climate so they can survive and thrive – so seeing the Charity Digital Code’s encouragement for charities to make disruption work to their advantage is just what we like to see! Let’s ensure that our sector’s digital transformation accelerates to match the pace of change in the external world.
To learn more about digital for yourself, enrol on Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy’s Essentials in Digital Skills for Fundraising course – giving you the resources and confidence to implement digital tools in your organisation.