Charity Digital Skills Report 2023: 5 Things You Need To Know

Robyn Barclay

Robyn Barclay

12 July 2023 | Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Charity Digital Skills Report is written in black on a green background. Below, it says download now. There is also a list of sponsors, including Catalyst, Zoe Amar Digital and Think Social Tech.

The Charity Digital Skills Report 2023 went live this morning. Since its inception in 2017, this annual report has become a barometer of digital needs and trends in the third sector. We’ve put together a condensed list of 5 themes from this year’s report.

  1.  Digital Strategy

The report states that 78% charities cite digital as a priority for their organisation. However, just under a third of charities don’t have anyone in charge of leading their digital progress, which is an increase from 22% in 2022.

Last year 56% of charities had a strategic approach to digital, which has decreased to 48% this year. It seems clear that although most charities recognise digital as a priority, they’re not always sure how to structure their approach.¬†

2. The Cost of Living Crisis 

The global pandemic loomed over digital progress in 2022, 2021 and 2022. However, in 2023, the big concern for most charities is the cost of living crisis.

  • “3 out of 10 are spending less money on digital tools,
  • 17% are spending less on up-skilling staff and volunteers
  • 10% are shelving internal digital projects”

However, it’s important to remember that digital does not just cost money, it saves money too.¬†Close to 4 out of 10 charities are exploring how to use digital to work more efficiently.

3. The Rise of AI 

The beginning of 2023 witnessed the boom of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Google Bard and Microsoft Copilot. How has the charity sector interacted with these new digital tools?

  • 27% are already using AI, 26% aren’t yet but plan to.
  • 78% of charities agree that AI is relevant and could be transformative, but 73% don’t feel prepared to use it.
  • 64% of large charities have strategic plans to use AI in day-to-day operations – however for small charities, this number is only 44%.

It seems clear that guidance on AI is needed in order to empower third sector employees to use it. Scaremongering in the media has made AI a hot topic in many workplaces: when it comes to AI, 52% are constrained by time while 42% struggle to engage their colleagues.

More examples are clearly needed to demonstrate how AI can save charities both time and money. Especially for smaller charities, AI has the potential to make a big impact. If only larger charities use this new tool to its full advantage, smaller organisations risk being left behind.

4. Digital Priorities 

8 out of 10 charities see improving their website, digital and social media presence as the greatest priority for the year ahead.

Data is a key priority, with 59% wanting to use data and insights to improve their services or operations. In line with last year’s report, this remains in the top three priorities selected.

Digital skills and confidence continues to be a similar level of priority for charities to 2022, with just over half (54%) keen to grow skills amongst staff and volunteers.

5. Funding Challenges 

Especially in the midst of the cost of living crisis, charities are struggling to fund digital progress.

The biggest challenge facing charities is funding. Nearly half of charities (49%) urgently need funds for devices, software and infrastructure. This has risen from 40% last year.

The biggest funding issue¬† to come out of this year’s report was the need for¬† time and support to develop a strategic approach to digital. Almost half of all organisations cited this as a need, a vast increase from 38% in 2022.

Conclusions

A big thanks is in order to Zoe Amar Digital, Catalyst and Think Social Tech for this year’s Charity Digital Skills Report. It’s a fantastic resources for organisations like third Sector Lab to understand the needs of the sector. Read the full 2023 Report.¬†

Digital strategy has emerged as a key theme from this year’s report. Especially in the midst of the cost of living crisis, charities simply need more time and money to spend on it.

Third Sector Lab facilitates fully-funded digital training through our initiative, The Curve. The most recent one was on digital strategy Рwatch it on YouTube. 

We’d love to provide more guidance on how to use tools like AI to their greatest advantage. Let us know in the comments – what questions do you have about AI?¬†

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