What we’ve learned from a year of digital checkups
At SCVO we’ve been running an online digital health check and follow-up for
support for over a year. About 200 charities have taken the self-assessment, and over 60 of these have had
follow-up support via a one-to-one phone call. What have we learned from talking to charities across Scotland
about their digital capability? Here are seven key trends we spotted.
Smaller charities are often weaker in some areas
- Smaller charities tend to have less technical capability, and are using a smaller range of
digital tools and equipment. This is not surprising since they have smaller budgets and lack dedicated digital
- Smaller organisations completing the checkup often scored better for leadership and
culture than larger organisations. This is probably because smaller organisations are able to embrace
change quickly as a whole team rather than cascading new ways of working across a larger organisation. Smaller
organisations may be less invested in legacy IT systems, too.
- Smaller organisations were
often much less cyber resilient,lacking the tools and expertise to protect themselves against cyber
risks. This insight helped us plan and develop our Cyber Essentials grants programme in partnership with the
What makes charities evolve digitally?
- People are key: organisations which are progressing well on digital evolution either
have highly skilled key staff, engaged CEOs, or both. Conversely, many organisations that are ‘stuck’ are being
held back by a lack of expertise. A new staff member starting can often provide extra impetus for digital
change. Related to this, having the right suppliers makes a big difference. Charities who have good IT suppliers
are likely to be more digitally mature. The reverse can also be true – a number of ‘stuck’ charities are held
back by legacy contracts.
- Growth and organisational change is often a key driver: for a
number of small organisations, anticipating a period of growth is a key moment to try to move digital capability
to a higher level. Larger organisations often tackle major digital change projects during or following a
- A combination of scalable, flexible tech (e.g. cloud-based systems) and a
positive change culture can be a winning combination in driving change forward.
Digital evolution is a long-term project
- An ad hoc approach to digital change can lead to two kinds of problem:
and firefighting: many ‘small and stuck’ charities are stuck in firefighting mode – they’re aware that lots of
things need to be improved, but finding it hard to prioritise and shift to longer-term planning and
- Unfocused dabbling: Some charities are stuck at the ‘dabbling’ stage –
trying out a wide range of tools without committing to any strategic changes. This means digital remains a ‘nice
to do’ rather than a core part of the way these organisations are run.
In response to these trends, we have
You can take the checkup.