The charity sector urgently needs digital innovation. Charities know this, as revealed in NPC’s State of the Sector research and the thousands of charities that have taken part in Media Trust’s digital skills training initiatives over the past few years. Yet as charities step up to meet the increasing and more complex needs created by Covid-19, confidence to use digital approaches is lagging. At a time when digital skills are most vital, there is a vast divide between those who are able to operate in the digital space and those who aren’t.

Coronavirus has accelerated the pace of innovation in some areas. Transformation that might otherwise have taken years has been achieved in a few months. Many charities have successfully adapted to delivering services digitally. Some funders have demonstrated they can work collaboratively and respond quickly. Businesses are leaning in to provide the tools and support. The government is coordinating initiatives to strengthen digital capabilities.

However, many charities don’t have the skills, resources or confidence to embrace the digital approaches that are being encouraged. Digital poverty at the grassroots level is also a major challenge, with many charities finding that their users aren’t able to engage with digital services. The government’s ‘digital first’ response won’t help the many people who don’t have, can’t afford and can’t cope with digital engagement.

To bridge the divide, companies are helping through the supply of equipment and training. Funders like the Paul Hamlyn Foundation are helping charities get their beneficiaries online, by providing onward funding for broadband and equipment.

How can funders and government help bridge the digital divide?

  • Invest in capacity building
  • Support innovation and build the resilience of the sector
  • Collaborate

Read the full article about innovation in the social sector by  Michelle Man at NPC.