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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Digital skills gap in charities remains a challenge


New report highlights work still needing to be done to improve services.

A new report has warned that many of the digital skills gaps which were present in the Third Sector prior to the Covid-19 pandemic continue, amid calls for organisations to take action. 

The Charity Digital Skills Report 2023, published this week, outlines the key points that charities large and small should consider when moving forward with digital improvements. 

The report, carried out by researchers Zoe Amar and Nissa Ramsay, has brought together views from experts in the sector since 2017. 

However, this year’s findings show that while some progress has been made, many of the issues first highlighted in 2017 remain today. 

A series of 10 calls to action were published alongside the report, with the report’s authors outlining what needs to be tackled in the sector. 

These include funding and support for charities as the cost of living crisis rages on, work on the development of artificial intelligence, and addressing the “significant digital skills gap on boards”.

Tree Hall, chief executive officer of Charity IT Leaders, said: “The 2023 report comes at a time when we are facing enormous challenges in our sector, and the impact of these is highlighted in the findings.

“Unsurprisingly, many charities, particularly smaller organisations, report being significantly impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. 

“As a sector we have always been stronger together, and one of our greatest strengths is collaboration and partnership. For me, one of the clearest messages in this year’s report is the need for us to continue to work together to find solutions to these sector-wide challenges, and to elevate all organisations to deliver more and better for their beneficiaries.”

This year’s report featured a representative sample from Scotland for the first time, with 49 respondents north of the border. 

In Scotland, 57% are delivering digital services, while amid the cost of living crisis, 42% are responding by exploring how to work more effectively using digital. 

However, more than half did add that the cost of living crisis has affected their capacity and

indicate the impact on their digital progress.

John Fitzgerald, digital evolution manager at SCVO, said: “We’re delighted to see the latest Charity Digital Skills report, including a representative sample from Scotland for the first time. 

“I’m particularly struck by the fact that 82% of Scottish charities who responded said that digital is a greater or much greater priority for them this year. This shows why we are still seeing such sustained demand for digital advice and support.

“We know that the cost of living crisis represents a very difficult context for charities, and it’s no surprise to see that 53% of respondents to this survey said that cost of living pressures are affecting their capacity and their ability to make progress with digital. This aligns with our own sector-wide research, which showed that rising running costs and inflation is the top challenge facing charities in Scotland.

“It’s clear that there is no ‘done’ with digital. That can feel challenging, but also inspiring: it means that the best practice we see today could become a default tomorrow. Although the voluntary sector adapted rapidly in the pandemic, we still need to keep prioritising digital and working on it strategically.”



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