Recently published reports concerning charity digital literacy, namely the Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society report by the House of Lords and The Charity Digital Skills Report by Zoe Amar and David Evans, have provided some insight into how digitally literate charities currently are, but perhaps more importantly, what the future of the charity sector looks like from a digital perspective.
The headline statistics from these reports look concerning; 50% of charities don’t have a digital strategy , 49% of charities are digitally immature and only 60% of 500 recently registered charities have a website. It has been suggested that in terms of utilising digital tools, the charity sector is approximately 5 years behind the corporate sector. In an increasingly digital world, it is particularly important for charities to embrace digital and ensure they stay relevant.
The Charity Digital Skills Report recently surveyed 485 charities of varying sizes in an attempt to understand charity digital literacy, and where the charity sector is in terms of digital skills. What was perhaps most interesting is the responses from charities to questions about the future of digital. 68% of charities think that as the sector adopts digital it will change to a great extent in the next 10 years. 66% of charities feel failure to increase digital skills will result in missed opportunities for digital fundraising, and 53% think they will no longer be seen as relevant and won’t be able to reach their audience. With increased digital skills, 75% of charities believe their fundraising could be increased, as well as 69% of charities believing their strategy could be delivered more effectively.
What is clear from these responses is that while charity digital literacy might not be the best it could be at this point in time, charities are aware of the benefits that digital can offer. Part of this may be the nature of the person responding to the survey, as over 40% of surveys were completed by someone in a digital or communications role, so it’s important to mention that this may not be representative of the view of the charity as a whole.
There are a number of barriers that might prevent charities from embracing digital. 52% of charities suggest lack of funding is stopping them get the most from digital, along with 50% of charities saying that other challenges are considered higher priority than digital, and that money spent on digital is needed elsewhere. But why should charities prioritise digital? Lloyds UK Business Digital Index in 2016 reported that digitally literate charities are 28% more likely to report increased turnover or funding than less digitally minded charities, as well as 52% of charities reporting cost savings from being online.
HOW TO IMPROVE CHARITY DIGITAL LITERACY & PRESENCE
There are ways to greatly improve your digital presence without spending a fortune. One of the easiest ways for charities to increase their digital presence, raise funds, promote events and more is the Google Ad Grant. Google offers a $10,000 a month grant to registered charities, allowing them to advertise on the Google Search Network. This can bring in an extra 165 clicks to your site each day and the only cost to you is the time spent managing the account. Whilst digital strategy should be treated holistically, Search Engine Marketing is a vital piece of the digital puzzle and is one that should not be ignored. For more information on the Google Ad Grant, eligibility guidelines and a step by step guide on how to apply for the Ad Grant, please see my previous blog.
In addition, you can set up Google Analytics for free to track all sorts of data relating to you site and your Ad Grant Account. This can give you invaluable information that you can use to optimise your site and really improve the user experience, and so increase awareness and engagement with your site. According to the Charity Digital Skills Report, 26% of charities don’t know how their audience is using digital. With Google Analytics you can know exactly how all users of your site are interacting with it, which will help you in making effective strategic decisions.
There are also a number of product available, all for free, for charities enrolled in the Google for Nonprofit programme. The Nonprofit programme is now the new home of the Ad Grant, as well as YouTube For Nonprofits, Google One Today, Google Earth Outreach and G Suite for Nonprofits. All these tools are free and only require someone to utilise them, and they can have a far-reaching yet immediate impact on your charity.
If you’d like more information on ways we can can help your charity improve digitally, or you would like help applying for a Google Ad Grant or Google for Nonprofits programme, please get in touch.