Report finds that charities are struggling to get to grips with digital marketing

Most small businesses nowadays are aware that they must do some online marketing to keep up with their competitors, even if it’s just a few social media posts. However, one type of small enterprise that isn’t coping so well with the takeover of digital marketing and advertising is the charity organisation.

A new report from Skills Platform has revealed that a surprising 50% of charities don’t have a digital strategy in place and just 9% have made an active move to digital transformation. A further 71% admitted that their board’s digital skills are low or could definitely be improved.
One of the main problems is a lack of skills and knowledge, but 52% of those surveyed said that funding was a major barrier. Other organisational challenges will always be given a greater priority in charitable organisations. When resources are stretched, 50% of charities will give more pressing issues their attention and put digital on the backburner.

Commenting on the findings and importance of the research, the Charity Commission’s Director of Policy and Communications, Sarah Atkinson, said:

“It is encouraging that most respondents to this survey recognise the difference strategic engagement with digital can make to their charities’ success. But there is clearly a gap between the awareness of charity professionals, and the skills and engagement of many charity boards. It is of concern that almost three quarters of respondents rate their trustees’ digital skills as low or having room for improvement; two thirds fear they will lose out on fundraising opportunities as a result.”

“All trustees – no matter how large or small their charity – should consider how they can use technology to better meet the needs of their beneficiaries, and how they can apply digital tools make their governance systems more effective.”

Ms Atkinson also pointed charities towards government guidance ‘Making digital work – 12 questions for trustees to consider’ if they are moving towards a change.

How important is digital marketing to charities?

Charities undoubtedly have many other priorities for their time and resources above digital marketing, but the report’s findings have shown just how important improving their online presence could be for charities. A huge 75% of those surveyed said that improving their digital skills could help to boost fundraising, while:

  • 69% believe it could help them deliver their strategy more effectively
  • 71% said it could provide opportunities to grow their network
  • 53% said a lack of digital presence could see them lose touch with their audience
  • 53% feel that poor digital skills could make their charity seem irrelevant or outdated

At present, charities with a lack of or weak digital strategy could be missing out on a huge amount in funding from donors. They could also be missing out on key talent and volunteers, as a massive 86% of respondents said that they want to work for a charity that is progressing in digital skills.

Do you work for a charity? If so, what challenges has your charity faced in getting online and reaching out to donors, supporters and new team members? Please feel free to share your experiences.

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