So once again the Charity Digital Skills Report has the potential to be an important document to shape the needs of the not for profit sector, but there are some issues.
- The sample is reasonable this year. 540 responses up from 526, although given the number of registered charities and the unknown number of unregistered ones this is a very small percentage.
- Once again all the government regions are included in the survey except Yorkshire and Humber which was omitted – irritating as this was pointed out to the people behind the report in 2018, and they failed to fix the issue.
- 47.7% of respondents were in London and the South East. In the other regions the size of the sample is about 30 or less organisations, which is really too small to be considered representative. Regional samples of 30ish can't be used for drawing any wider conclusions as they are not big enough statistically.
- 45% of organisations had an income level over five million pounds. Only 7% of respondents had an income of under £10,000 which represents the majority of the sector.
Ok so having looked at the issues with the report, what does it deliver? Perhaps if it was titled “A Digital Survey for Large Charities” it allows you to make a more nuanced assessment. The fact that a large number of these don’t have a digital strategy is worrying.
Looking at the call to action in the report the need for funders to step up is important, although this should not be to create digital products in search of needs. The need for “We need digital, not analogue leaders” is perhaps accurate, but it’s a need to be able to identify the best solution - digital or analogue - for a given problem. The need for Boards to raise their game is possibly true, as the Board sets the strategy. I remain to be convinced of the imperative to have a specialist digital trustee on the Board, but the Board needs to have an understanding of the new digital world.
Overall again it’s an interesting report, but I am unsure of its relevance to the majority of third sector organisations as it deals with issues that are well beyond their needs or experience. Working in a small organisation I would love a digital team, but until we grow much larger it will be an element covered in the favourite part of the job description “any other duties” for the manager.