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The transformative power of digital

Zoe Amar, Chair of The Charity Digital Code of Practice is bringing together key organisations to develop The Charity Digital Code of Practice which aims to improve digital skills and increase the take up of digital activity in charities. This will help organisations deliver on their charitable purpose in an increasingly digital age.

At the time of writing, we're hard at work planning the launch of the consultation for The Charity Digital Code of Practice in July of this year. If you haven't heard of this before, don't panic. It's a joint initiative between The Charity Commission, ACEVO, The Co-Op Foundation and other leading organisations across the sector, who have come together to create a framework that aims to develop digital skills and shape good practice.

Why are we doing this? It's because digital can change the fortunes of charities. The latest Lloyds Business Digital Index, which tracks the performance of the sector in digital, revealed that highly digitally capable charities are twice as likely to save time, and ten times as likely to save money. Meanwhile, it also showed that digitally confident charities are also twice as likely to see an increase in donations.

Read UK Business Digital Index 2017

Here are some great resources from organisations that have used digital to ramp up their impact.

NAVCA were recently shortlisted for a Charity Governance 'Embracing Digital' Award on the strength of their work in digital. In this blog, they discuss how their trustees played a critical role, having given the executive the green light to become a digitally savvy organisation.

Read NAVCA - Embracing digital - and reaping the benefits

But this wasn't about buying a load of new smartphones and investing in flash new tools for their own sake. The NAVCA team travel up and down the country frequently to see members across the UK, as well as meeting key stakeholders in London, and they realised that digital was essential to help them be productive (e.g. by enabling remote working and collaboration). Their challenge was to achieve all of this on a tight budget with a small team. They have saved over 50% of their office costs and reduced their IT budget by using tools such as Microsoft Office 365, Delve (an app which shows what other members of the team are working on and which documents are being most used) and Breathe HR, an online tool which helps them store personnel records, manage staff leave and track performance management. It's free for UK registered charities so well worth a look.

Cambridge CVS share how their stakeholders use digital. Doing digital well shouldn't just be an option for large, well-resourced charities. This excellent video from Cambridge CVS is a jargon-free explanation of the benefits of digital, and how charities can use these platforms to do things better, cheaper and more effectively. Charities such as CHS Group and North Cambridge Community Partnership also share how digital has helped them reach more people and spread the word about what they do, using websites and social media. Michelle Davis, Manager of Railway House, talks about how they were able to win a new corporate partnership and attract fundraisers for a sponsored sleep out, just by using digital channels. Digital is vital to helping charities do more with less, stretching their resources further.

Read CCVS - Why should your organisation embrace digital?

Digital is changing expectations of funders. CAST (Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology) work closely with funders such as Big Lottery and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. It's well worth following their blog on Medium which includes plenty of advice for how funders and charities can collaborate more effectively. For example in this piece they discuss how digital is disrupting the traditional charity and funder relationship, with grantees hungry for expertise and support as much as funding. Comic Relief's Tech v Abuse programme is a great case study on how charities can benefit from advice on digital product and service development, helping everyone involved achieve a much better result.

Read Medium - Supporting charity digital development through savvy grant funding

I hope you'll get involved in the consultation for The Charity Digital Code of Practice by sharing your views. We're building the microsite for the Code as we speak so keep an eye on my Twitter feed @zoeamar for more information. You can also email me on zoe@zoeamar.com

Zoe Amar is Chair of The Charity Digital Code of Practice. She also leads a social enterprise, Zoe Amar Digital, which helps charities lead digital change more effectively.