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Covid-19 has Pushed Charities to Embrace Digital

Covid-19 has accelerated a digital evolution with the charity sector, according to a report published today.

The 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report provides insights into how UK charities have adapted to Covid-19.

Between March and May, the authors heard from 429 charity professionals about how they are using digital and what this means for trends around skills, governance, leadership and strategy across the sector.

This year’s report finds that the pandemic is the biggest cause of digital disruption in the sector this year. Covid-19 has pushed charities to “embrace digital with the aim of staying relevant, helping more people, developing new ways of working, fundraising and delivering service offerings”.

Before Covid-19, 30% felt that a lack of understanding and buy-in for digital from trustees was one of their biggest internal barriers. For those responding post-Covid-19, this had decreased to 15% of respondents.

Post-Covid-19 is defined as 20 March 2020 onwards, as that was when the government announced the closure of schools and shops.

More than half of charities do not have a digital strategy
The report finds that just over half of the charities that responded, 51%, still do not have a digital strategy. However, 39% have an organisational strategy that includes digital, or a digital strategy, and it’s a priority for them.

Half of the charities cited lack of funding as the biggest barrier they face to digital progress, and 48% of respondents said that their charities have not accessed any digital funding over the last year.

Most charities, 66%, rate their board’s digital skills as low or having room for improvement, down 2% from 2019. Only 4% are investing in digital training for trustees, down from 7% last year.

Baroness Barran, minister for civil society, said: “The annual Charity Digital Skills report continues to provide invaluable insights into the sector’s evolving uptake and engagement with the opportunities that digital provides – something that nearly all of us have experienced recently. Coronavirus has fundamentally transformed charities’ daily operations and the need to offer digital alternatives for everything from services to fundraising, which has proven important now, more than ever.

“Over the last few months, charities and wider civil society have worked tirelessly in their efforts to support vulnerable people and communities, and the sector has proven to be one of our greatest strengths. Boosting digital skills and capability will be central in bolstering the resilience of the sector through recovery as civil society continues to play a vital role in helping tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Read the full Civil Society article by clicking here.

Source: Civil Society

How to Run Your Own Charity Webinars

As more and more charities start to deliver their services digitally and find virtual ways to communicate with donors, the webinar can be a trusty tool in any charity’s arsenal. 

The hardest part of embarking any new program or initiative is starting. It’s easy to get bogged down in the specifics and over-do planning meetings. There are only 4 things you need to get going:

1. An audience
As with any content, your audience is key to success. They can help you determine your topic, time and platform. It’s essential to make sure there’s interest in a webinar programme before you put in action. Speak to your audience, find out if they’re interested and if so, what is the best time, best platform and key topics or services they’d like to hear about?

2. A topic
If your webinars are for donors, then ask them what they’d like to hear about. Lockdown has shown that donors can be charity’s most creative assets for content creation. They’ll not be short of an idea or two- be it a discussion with a service user who benefited from a donation or a seminar on what happens with a donation.

3. A time
Ask your audience what their time preferences are. This is a tough one, especially where services are concerned. Try and find the balance between flexibility and regularity. This might mean running 3 sessions a day at different times to be fully inclusive.

In our recent webinar with Thirtyone:Eight, they shared how they’d moved webinar training sessions to the evening to be more accessible and available to their service users. Similarly, for a donor audience we’ve found routine works best to increase engagement. If your survey comes back with a definitive time and date then stick to it until otherwise informed. Your audience will follow suit and start building into the daily, weekly or monthly routine

Read the full article by clicking here.

Source: Charity Digital News

Coronavirus Sees Two-Thirds of Charities Change How They Communicate With Supporters

Lockdown has seen two-thirds (67%) of charities surveyed by Rapidata change the way they communicate with supporters, with use of digital rising sharply and 49% saying they expect to continue using channels they hadn’t used before in the future.

The findings are among those revealed in a new report from Rapidata, released today during Fundraising Convention.

For the report, Rapidata questioned charities on their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic, specifically around regular giving and how they had adapted their fundraising.

It found that, among the charities surveyed, communications saw a general shift from donor acquisition to supporter stewardship, with a big rise in the use of digital, and increased impact reporting and thanking.

Key survey findings:

  • 67% of charity respondents changed how they communicate with regular giving supporters during lockdown.
    Use of digital: 71% increased their use of social media, followed by email (62%), online advertising and online virtual events (both 46%). The latter also saw the biggest increase in first time use, at 16% of respondents.
  • A quarter (24%) increased their use of the telephone to thank supporters and reinvigorate relationships.
    Social media, additional impact reporting and thank you mailings were the top three activities used to tackle attrition.
  • Almost a quarter of charities (24%) pre-empted cancellations by offering payment options such as skipping a month, taking a holiday or reducing their gift.
  • The most successful channels for recruiting regular supporters during lockdown were social media, email and online advertising,
  • The most successful channels for stewardship were email, direct mail, and telephone.
  • Almost half (49%) expect to continue using channels they hadn’t used before lockdown.
    75% expect to continue their increased use of digital.
  • Barriers to digital uptake remain: 23% would like to make more use of digital but lack the skills or resources, while 17% are impeded by lack of budget.

Survey responses were received from 87 charities of all sizes. The highest proportion came from London and the South East, followed by Midlands and South West, with causes ranging from children and young people, to hospices, religious causes, animal welfare, and the environment.

As well as asking participants to share how they reacted to lockdown, and to the initial recovery phase of lockdown easing, Rapidata also asked about the strategies implemented to drive donations, mitigate attrition and protect regular giving income, and for their thoughts on the future of regular giving.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Source: UK Fundraising

Ray Lock: There’s A Lot The Charity Sector Can Learn From Military Charities About Data

It’s times like these you give and give again. Foo Fighter’s lyricist Dave Grohl’s song about ‘love and hope and compassion’ is an apt description for a sector whose heart is defined by a desire to help people lead better lives. When it comes to my own sub-sector (Armed Forces charities), rather too often we’re perceived as being in competition and uncollaborative.

Both accusations are unfair, and our pandemic response might even offer an example to other sub-sectors.

At the heart of our sub-sector lies Cobseo – the Confederation of Service Charities. A membership organisation of some 300 charities with a board of permanent and elected members (such as SSAFA, The Soldiers’ Charity, Help for Heroes), it compares in some ways to the United Nations. It has no executive authority, but gains its strength from the willingness of its members to subordinate their own individual concerns for the greater good of the whole. It helps that the chair is a distinguished retired officer, used to dealing with devious and obfuscating political leaders (abroad of course) and therefore well able to take uncomfortable truths to the Whitehall corridors of power. Like the United Nations, it has been tested in times of crisis.

When, in common with all charities, those supporting the Armed Forces community were faced with an overnight fall in voluntary income at the start of lockdown, Cobseo was able to use the research that we (Forces in Mind Trust) had commissioned from the Directory of Social Change over a period of seven years.

To read the full Charity Times article click here.

Source: Charity Times

Why More Charities Should be Using LinkedIn

Charity Digital News examines why engaging with LinkedIn’s audience of conscientious professionals should be part of all charities’ social media strategy.

LinkedIn is an effective social media platform for the voluntary sector. But too often it is being ignored by charity marketers in favour of more familiar platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Even when LinkedIn is used, it can be seen as an afterthought, with content for other, more personal style social platforms merely copy and pasted in.

But it is a mistake to ignore LinkedIn’s engaged and professional focused audience and the distinct social media marketing advantages it offers.

Here we will examine the benefits of using LinkedIn for charities and how it can help in their wider social media strategy.

Understanding LinkedIn

According to research cited by LinkedIn, almost all (96 per cent) of UK business to business (B2B) marketers use the platform for content and six out of ten describe it as “highly effective”. Around eight out of ten of all their leads for new business come from LinkedIn.

Knowing more about LinkedIn, its audience and functions are key for charities in harnessing this marketing power.

The platform is primarily used for professional networking, which means its user base is highly engaged, keen to network and receptive to social media marketing campaigns. They are a B2B group of professionals who want to see relevant content for their job and are eager to learn from other professionals across a wide range of sectors.

The right content

Creating strong content that appeals to this professional user base is key. This includes recruitment announcements, such as board appointees and new hires. Promoting the work of your volunteers and firms that are volunteering or fundraising for your good causes is also effective.

Blog posts used on charity websites can also be repositioned for a LinkedIn audience.
Links to interesting, professional articles, that will assist a wide range of people in their job, are also of interest.

Be warned though. This audience is not interested in personal content. So, while a cute picture of your CEO’s dogs may work Instagram, it is less likely to appeal to LinkedIn’ users.

In addition, political news that is not relevant to people’s working life is not welcome by this audience. Such issues can also be divisive in the workplace. Treat them as such on LinkedIn.

Instead, LinkedIn users are looking for content that can help in their job and working life. This is why recruitment opportunities can be so appealing.

The quality of LinkedIn’s audience is clear, but the platform also has the quantity of audience to back up its use in marketing. As of May 2020, it boasted more than 690 million users, across 150 countries. Around half are regular, active users each month.

Source: Charity Digital News

McKinsey 7-S Framework

Making Every Part of Your Organization Work in Harmony.

Do you know how well your organization is positioned to achieve its goals? Or what elements influence its ability to implement change successfully?

Models of organizational effectiveness go in and out of fashion, but the McKinsey 7-S framework has stood the test of time.

The model was developed in the late 1970s by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, former consultants at McKinsey & Company. They identified seven internal elements of an organization that need to align for it to be successful.

In this article, you can explore the seven elements in detail, and learn how to improve performance or manage change in your organization by ensuring that they all work in harmony.

When to Use the McKinsey 7-S Model
You can use the 7-S model in a wide variety of situations where it’s useful to examine how the various parts of your organization work together.

For example, it can help you to improve the performance of your organization, or to determine the best way to implement a proposed strategy.

The framework can be used to examine the likely effects of future changes in the organization, or to align departments and processes during a merger or acquisition. You can also apply the McKinsey 7-S model to elements of a team or a project.

To read the full Mind article click here.

Source: Mind Tools

Scenario Planning

What is scenario planning?
Scenario planning is used to help assess uncertainties in your external environment which allows you to open choices for the future. It involves making assumptions on what the future is going to be and how your operating environment will change over time.

Scenario planning helps you stimulate new thinking and explore uncertainties. Instead of focusing just on what you do know, you invest time on what you don’t know. Often, as a result, you end up being more certain about the future.

It can be used when you need to make sense of your future operating environment. This may be as part of a strategy exercise (see for example Brook’s use of scenarios), but is also helpful when something changes and the organisation faces a challenge or barrier.

Why use scenario planning?
Scenario planning can be used both to look generally at what might happen in the environment – eg the economy – and to help think specifically about how an organisation might fare within that particular environment.

Developing scenarios can help you understand the dynamics of change and makes the future more tangible and less frightening. When an organisation understands possible changes, and can put them in context, it is in a far better position to protect itself against possible threats.

Steps for scenario planning
There are three steps and some questions which can help you develop and plan scenarios for your organisation. NCVO have also listed considerations for any organisation embarking on scenario planning.

1. Mapping the environment
What is our objective, what do we want to achieve?
What are we most uncertain about in the future, what obstacles stand in our way?
What information do we have which can help inform our thinking on these uncertainties?
How significantly might these uncertainties impact on our work or organisation, how likely is this to happen? Remember this impact might be positive as well as negative.

2. Identifying scenarios
Identify a set of scenarios based on your mapping and decide some key timeframes, eg six months; one, three, five years.

How many scenarios you pick and the timeframe you decide to plan for will depend on your situation. Remember: perfect is the enemy of good. This is not an exact science, try and keep the number of scenarios manageable.

Try to avoid just picking the most likely outcomes, consider also mapping those which will have the most significant impact.

For each of your scenarios consider the impact on:

  • beneficiates and the work we do
  • staff and volunteers
  • income and investments
  • suppliers and funders
  • partners and other key stakeholders.

To read the full NCVO article click here.

Source: NCVO



New Online Tool Launched to Help Charity Leaders and trustees Improve Digital Skills

A new online tool has been launched to help charity trustees and leaders touch up on their digital skills.

The tool comprises a digital checklist, developed by experts from across the sector, and is designed to help support leaders in making effective decisions about digital during the coronavirus crisis – and beyond.

The free-to-access service includes best practice advice to encourage ongoing improvement in digital activity for charities.

Trustees and leaders will be able to refer to the checklist for tips on developing digital services, setting up remote working and people management systems, optimising digital fundraising platforms, digitalising governance processes, incorporating digital activity into strategy and making the most of resources.

The launch of the checklist follows the publication of the Charity Digital Code of Practice, which was launched in November 2018 and received sector-wide praise.

A need for the Code was recognised following the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2017, which showed only 48 per cent of charities have full basic digital skills, and 50 per cent of charity leaders lack confidence in introducing digital change.

It’s managed by a steering group of representatives from across the sector and chaired by independent digital expert Zoe Amar.

The steering group said it was inspired to develop the digital checklist in response to the increased pressure on all charities due to the current climate.

It added that while many charities have long recognised the need to be more digitally ambitious, the effects of Covid-19 have meant many charities have had to adapt their business models to make greater use of digital an urgent priority.

Earlier this month, findings from the Charity Digital Skills Report survey revealed that during the pandemic, one in three charities has cancelled services due to a lack of digital skills.

“The last two months have been extremely challenging for the charity sector and it’s crucial that digital activity is prioritised if we are going to adapt and respond to the ‘new normal’,” chair of the Digital Code of Practice Steering Group, Zoe Amar said.

“Upskilling charity organisations of all sizes must include our charity trustees and advisors so they have a clear understanding of the threats and opportunities facing their organisations.

“I’m delighted that we can share this checklist as part of the wider Charity Digital Code of Practice to help boards tackle this challenging environment and inspire them to embrace digital activity. This ultimately will not just benefit the charities they support but also the service users and beneficiaries who rely on them.”

Charity trustees and leaders from organisations of all sizes can access the checklist here.

Source: Charity Times

Get Creative or Lose Supporters, Charities Warned

UK charities risk losing vital supporters if they don’t ‘get creative’ and allow donors to have more creative freedom, fundraising experts have warned.

Studio Republic, the designers behind the 2.6 Challenge – which was launched to replace the postponed London Marathon in April – and fundraising experts, Funraisin, have urged charities to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and allow supporters to be involved in fundraising in a more creative way.

The comments come as part of a white paper on the future of fundraising, which was launched this week to demonstrate why creative methods of fundraising such as the 2.6 Challenge, which raised £10m for 3,000 charities, are vital for the sector to combat ‘donor fatigue’.

Fundraising has taken a hit over the past few months as major events have been cancelled and charities have been forced into finding new ways to raise much-needed money.

Captain Tom Moore – a 100-year old veteran who raised millions for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden – demonstrated how the general public are increasingly drawn to more creative ways of raising funds.

Studio Republic and Funraisin said collectively, they’re aiming to ‘break-down the current conditioning of limitations’.

“Once the dust settles, the new normal will be a hyper-congested market and an economy under immense pressure,” Funraisin COO, Keith Williams said.

“Charities will not just be competing as a sector for donations, but will be competing with every other consumer good or service. Charities are the pillar and essential for every corner of the community.

“The 2.6 Challenge and other campaigns during the pandemic have proved that creativity & technology effectively engage fundraisers. Where the world has redefined what matters, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the world better.”

Studio Republic director, Fleurie Forbes-Martin added: “Fundraisers have seen and experienced a more flexible way of supporting causes close to their heart and they won’t want to revert back to the rigidity of traditional methods.

“Now it’s up to charities to meet these new fundraiser expectations head-on. The second half of 2020 is an opportune time to invest in the sophistication of planned events and campaigns.”

Source: Charity Times

National Cyber Security Centre Guides for Working at Home

FSI in partnership at the National Cyber Security Centre have lots of excellent guidance for keeping your charity and your people safe from cyber attacks and crime.

Check out their new guidance on working from home and their Small Charity Cyber Security Guide with simple and low-cost tips by clicking on the links below.

Home working: preparing your organisation and staff – How to make sure your organisation is prepared for an increase in home working, and advice on spotting coronavirus (COVID-19) scam emails  –

Cyber Security Small Charity Guide can be downloaded by clicking here.

For advice on helping your users to spot coronavirus scam emails, please refer to their guidance on dealing with suspicious messages.

NCSC’s new cyber security training for staff now available –

Tips for spotting tell-tale signs of phishing:

Spotting a phishing email is becoming increasingly difficult, and many scams will even trick computer experts. However, there are some common signs to look out for:

  • Authority – Is the sender claiming to be from someone official (like your bank, doctor, a solicitor, government department)? Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you into doing what they want.
  • Urgency – Are you told you have a limited time to respond (like in 24 hours or immediately)? Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.
  • Emotion – Does the message make you panic, fearful, hopeful or curious? Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support, or tease you into wanting to find out more.
  • Scarcity – Is the message offering something in short supply (like concert tickets, money or a cure for medical conditions)? Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.
  • Current events – Are you expecting to see a message like this? Criminals often exploit current news stories, big events or specific times of year (like tax reporting) to make their scam seem more relevant to you.

Source: FSI

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