A second year of funding has been agreed for the UK's first Charity Digital Code of Practice.
The Code, which was created to provide charities with practical advice on using digital to increase impact, sustainability and skills, was launched in November 2018 following an extensive consultation and input from across the sector.
New funders - Cisco and Charity IT Leaders have joined the Code's founding funders Lloyds Banking Group and the Co-op Foundation, with support from the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST) - to pledge combined support of £140,000 to continue and expand on the resource to help all charities improve their digital activity, connect with their online audiences and secure their own futures.
The new funding will be used to expand and develop the existing code and support more charities to be increasingly resilient and responsive to the changes in the needs, behaviours and expectations of the communities they support.
The enthusiasm with which the charity sector has responded to the Code's first year, and the willingness to follow its best practice advice to increase digital skills has been very positive. The Code's site has had 7,530 unique users since it's launch in November and 444 participants from 370 charities have downloaded World Vision UK's free self-assessment tool which is part of The Code's suite of resources.
Last week's Charity Digital Skills Report 2019 showed that a lot of charities still have a long way to go when it comes to their digital activity. Despite this, it was encouraging to see that more and more charities are beginning to see the crucial value in digital and that 43% of respondents say they are now using The Code to help them improve in this area.
Kevin O'Brien, Digital Programme Board Chair, CLIC Sargent said:
"We were early adopters of the Code and I'm delighted to say that it has been extremely beneficial to CLIC Sargent's work. It has given us assurance that we were on the right track, but, it has also highlighted gaps in our digital practice. We now have a digital strategic plan that is built around The Code's principles and we assess ourselves against it's criteria. Since using The Code we have expanded our digital activity by recruiting a Board member with strong experience in digital, established a digital innovation forum and we now focus much more on data-led evaluation of our work."
The Code is voluntary and free to access for all charities. It has been managed by a steering group of representatives from across the sector and chaired by independent digital expert Zoe Amar. It includes best practice advice relating to leadership, beneficiaries and other stakeholders, culture, strategy, skills, adaptability and managing risks and ethics. It aims to support charities of all sizes by providing resources, 'how-to' guides and advice from peers to enable all charities to increase and improve their digital activity, alongside evaluating success to continually learn about what works for them as an organisation.
A version of the Code has been produced for small charities and the announcement of this funding, which coincides with Small Charity Week, will come as welcome news to the thousands of small charities across the UK which have ambitions to improve their digital activity to help their vital work.
Michelle Hill CEO of relationships charity TLC: Talk, Listen, Change said:
"The Charity Digital Code of Practice has been brilliant for us. It showed us what we were doing well, where we could stretch ourselves and what we'd not even thought of yet. From making the most of the digital systems we have to using our data to understand user insights, we have made improvements across our organisation thanks to advice and resources from the Code.
"Our digital activity is now integrated throughout our organisational strategy and business plan. We now see digital not as a bolt on or a nice added extra but as key to everything we do. It will be our blueprint for the next few years."
The next phase of The Code will include the implementation of user testing and feedback mechanisms to make it a more responsive resource, increasing awareness and adoption of The Code and working towards making it sustainable and therefore ensuring the long-term digital confidence of the charity sector.
The Co-op Foundation, a founding funder of the Charity Digital Code, has invested £50,000 into the year two development. Jamie Ward-Smith, Chair of the Co-op Foundation said:
"The Charity Digital Code of Practice has been well received across the sector and we're delighted that so many organisations have taken on the seven key principles to help improve their digital engagement and secure their futures.
"Funding for year two will build on this success, enabling charities to feedback further on improvements so the Code can be as relevant and responsive as possible.
"We look forward to working with our fellow funders and the Charity Digital Code Steering Group to build a resource that will help charities of all sizes embed effective stakeholder-led digital strategies and practices into all aspects of their work and culture."
Charities can access The Charity Digital Code of Practice code by visiting charitydigitalcode.org and join the conversation about the Code by using the hashtag #CharityDigitalCode