Charity Digital Code: The seven principles of digital success - Thorne Widgery

In the second blog of our Charity Digital Code series, we’ll be looking at the seven principles which define best digital practice in the sector.

While we will be delving deeper into each principle in blogs to come, we would like to start by introducing the areas of focus for the code.

The code, funded by Lloyd Banking Group and Co-op Foundation and developed by a sector-wide group, believes that each of the seven values shows how digital “touches much of what a charity does” and “how it will need to be considered accordingly”.

So, let’s jump straight in.

1) Leadership

In the code, leaders in particular are asked to “lead on digital” as a way of helping their charities be relevant and sustainable. Specifically, how digital could help realise their vision for their charity. The report points to digital as a platform for offering leadership opportunities, as well as a chance to build networks and collaborate with like-minded organisations through platforms such as Slack, WhatsApp and other social media.

2) User Led

Defined as prioritising the needs and behaviours of beneficiaries and other stakeholders as the starting point for everything a charity does digitally, a user led charity is more likely to engage with their audience and increase impact. According to the latest data, 88 per cent of adults now have internet access at home, offering an opportunity to reach a massive number of interested parties through digital content.

3) Culture

According to the code, charities’ values, behaviours and ways of working should create the right environment for digital success. Specifically, the people who volunteer or work for charities should be led to a position whereby they feel confident in trying new things and contributing to how the organisation can achieve its goals through digital offerings. A digital culture could be achieved through additional training and digital workshops.

4) Strategy

What exactly does a digital strategy look like? The code suggests that charities should be ambitious about how they can use digital to achieve their vision and mission, thinking creatively to raise impact and sustainability. A successful strategy, for example, could enable charities to invest time and other resources more effectively.

5) Skills

Digital skills are important at all levels of an organisation. The report suggests that digital skills are as equally important in a charity as ‘soft skills’, such as questioning, persuading and influencing. Therefore, leaders should identify gaps in technical skills and plan to close them with the aim of equipping volunteers and workers with a range of high level digital knowledge.

6) Managing Risks and Ethics

While digital technology promises to improve all areas of the charity sector, it also poses risks. Social media, for example, poses a risk to a charity’s reputation if false or inappropriate content is distributed across various social platforms. This could be avoided by having the relevant safeguards in place, such as limiting posting permissions to just one responsible team member. Cybersecurity is also a massive factor, especially with the introduction of GDPR last year.

7) Adaptability

According to the code, organisations that do not consider how they adapt to the digital age will lose relevance and engagement. Therefore, it is important that charities take an “agile approach” to digital strategy, regularly reviewing the “key trends in digital” and the accompanying opportunities and risks.

So there they are, the seven principles to digital success. In next week’s blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at leadership and how leading with technology can elevate your charity.

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