Charity Digital – Themes – The success of a charity depends on digital maturity


Digitally mature organizations are the most successful. This has been evident for quite a long time, with the phrase ‘digital transformation’ being pronounced in the charitable sector for years. And now, the latest research from Blackbaud Europe has demonstrated a clear link between charitable success and digital maturity.

The Status of the UK 2021 Fundraising Benchmark Report, released in October, is a must-read research set based on responses from more than 1,000 nonprofit professionals to questions about charitable income, supports, fundraising during COVID-19, and digital transformation.

This is the report’s fourth year, and the 2021 findings are more interesting and insightful than ever, after a particularly difficult time.

The search follows an earlier search, The future of work, which found that 64% of charities plan to invest in more technology as a direct result of the pandemic and 42% of charity leaders plan to launch a digital transformation project. The results of this research set the focus of the UK fundraising status survey questions – and Blackbaud naturally decided to focus on digital.

Charitable professionals were asked to give themselves a score out of 10 to assess their digital maturity. A score of 10 would indicate a fully digitally mature organization, in which digital tools and technology are integrated into all of its parts. The report found that:

    • Industry ranks 5 out of 10 for digital maturity
    • 79% of respondents said it was important for organizations to develop their digital maturity
    • Most respondents agree that technology is used to improve the way the organization operates (63%), digital transformation is essential for success (63%) and that data is used to improve performance ( 62%)

By asking respondents to rate themselves, we found that there are four distinct categories when it comes to advancing the digital maturity journey of nonprofits:

    1. Digital skeptics: Digitally immature charities that don’t believe digital transformation matters
    2. Digital recruits: Digitally Immature Charities That Think Digital Transformation Is Important
    3. Digital adopters: Organizations in full digital maturity that rank 6 or 7 out of 10
    4. Digital experts: Numerically mature organizations.

Only 12% of nonprofits said they saw themselves as digitally mature, and interestingly, throughout the survey, the same organizations were the ones that also told us they knew about success in all areas we asked about.

The report found that Digital experts have similarities, such as the ability to:

    • Design fundraising and digital strategies in collaboration with the entire organization
    • Track the overall effectiveness of their fundraising
    • Gain more supporters than they lose
    • Keep the hope that they will reach new audiences

The last point seems particularly important. 71% of Digital experts indicated that they are optimistic that their organizations will meet fundraising goals in the next 12-18 months, compared to just 42% of Digital skeptics.

The report also found that there is a correlation between digital maturity and revenue growth and decline. Almost half (49%) of our Digital recruits said their incomes had fallen from just one-third of Digital adopters and Digital experts (34%).

The survey results also show that organizations that use CRM systems are more successful in acquiring followers, with those using CRM software being more likely to say they gain more followers than they lose (43% vs. 38% of those who do not ‘do not use a CRM system).

For the 39% of organizations that consider themselves Digital adopters and are almost there with their digital transformation, but are struggling with the home stretch, and the 35% of Digital beginner nonprofits, who haven’t started their journey yet but understand the power of digital – the message is, keep it up! It is an investment that pays off and will bring countless rewards for your organization.

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