The Charity Digital Code: What does a ‘user-led’ charity look like? - Thorne Widgery

In the third part of our Charity Digital Code series, we’ll be looking at the first defining principle of digital best practice: user-led technology.

If you missed any of our previous blogs in this series, catch up using our newsfeed or social media pages.

So, what is user-led technology and how can charities put it into practice?

According to the code, charities should make the “needs and behaviours” of beneficiaries and other stakeholders the “starting point for everything they do digitally”.

This means building the organisation’s strategy, services and functions around stakeholders, and how digital will make them more likely to engage with the charity.

Technology and more specifically the internet is now relevant to all age groups. The latest statistics estimate that 88 per cent of adults now have internet access in their homes, though reach is predictably greater among a younger audience. But don’t let this dissuade you from reaching out to the older generation through technology – some 43 per cent of over-74s are regular internet users.

Charities should also look out for innovative opportunities to reach new donors and beneficiaries. This could include, for example, creating apps for smart devices.

Additionally, an important part of creating a user-led experience is understanding your audience and accessibility.

According to the code, “using the data from free tools such as Google Analytics and social media analytics, alongside insights from staff who work closely with beneficiaries and other supporters, will maximise the impact of digital activities”.

“These insights”, it says, “can be used to plan further digital activities, looking at how to improve performance each time. For example, this could involve testing ideas for a new email fundraising campaign, learning from the data and changing it accordingly.”

Where accessibility is concerned, charities should be aware of their core audience and implement the necessary tools for their needs. For starters, charities should consider the W3C guidance and how it could boost accessibility among your audience.

So, what does user-led success look like? Well, according to the code, “stakeholders’ needs will be factored into all digital activities from the outset, with key assumptions tested against data. Learnings will then be factored into continuously improving digital services and other work, and also used to inform wider questions about the charity’s strategic direction.”

And that concludes this part of our Charity Digital Code Series. 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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