BRIDGE Insights – What makes charities confident in their digital engagement skills during COVID-19?

Tereza Litsa
Digital Engagement Manager
29 Jul 2020

During uncertain times, charities are looking for new ways to survive and provide crucial services to their beneficiaries.

There is no question anymore of the need to be digital. However, there is still the challenge of finding the resources and the time to upskill your organisation.

We are happy to announce the launch of the second cohort responding to COVID-19 in partnership with GlobalGiving and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Right after the successful launch of the first cohort in May, we are committed to helping more charities all over the world to survive and thrive during the current crisis.

It is important for us to tailor the BRIDGE programme to their needs, so we’ve asked the participating charities to self-rate their confidence in their digital engagement skills and what they want to improve on.

Here’s a closer look at the findings and what we can learn from them.

Charities rate their level of confidence in their digital engagement skills

It’s interesting to see that 70% of the respondents are fairly confident in their digital skills (rating them 3 and 4 out of 5). Only 3.5% of them reported low confidence in their digital skills while just 7% of them graded their digital skills as perfect.

What we can learn from these is that:

  • Most participating nonprofits have already tried in one way or another to embrace digital even by simply having an active presence
  • Only a few of them feel that there are not many things that they can improve, which is promoting a learning culture in the longer term

Top reasons that make charities confident in their digital skills during COVID-19

What makes a charity confident in their digital engagement skills? Here are the most popular responses from our BRIDGE participants:

  • Good social media presence (many saw progress lately)
  • Team members digitally savvy or help from volunteers
  • Active on social media platforms or know the basics
  • Happy with quality and engagement in content
  • Digital marketing as part of everything they do
  • Changed engagement and fundraising strategies due to COVID-19
  • Good response from online donors
  • Moved training online and learned using Zoom
  • Already building digital capacity before COVID-19
  • Committed to learning more about digital tools
  • Executive Director’s vision for the organisation to be more digital
  • Currently working on digital strategy
  • Clear vision in line with the mission

Every organisation is at a different stage in their digital journey. Thus, the idea of self-rating their confidence in their digital engagement skills is about getting them to review where they are and what they can improve on.

It is the starting point in their BRIDGE journey where we help them with training, tools, and support to build on what currently works for them.

It’s encouraging to see that many organisations had an improved social media engagement over the last few months. As more activities are moving online, charities realised the need to be digital and we’re excited that we are supporting them at a very crucial time.

What do charities want to improve, to increase confidence in their digital skills?

Many charities are not yet fully confident in their digital skills or they simply feel there are more things that they can do.

Here are the main areas that our BRIDGE participants want to improve in their digital presence to be more confident:

  • Learn more to be better (things change fast and there is room for growth)
  • Improved engagement
  • Gain more reach
  • Grow visibility and awareness online
  • More resources
  • Create a strategy (take the organisation to the next level)
  • Gain more followers
  • Be more effective in digital fundraising – turn followers into donors
  • Learn to integrate digital into their programme and activities
  • Set the foundation for building a strong digital team going forward
  • Be more consistent with digital
  • Establish a system of tracking social media engagement
  • Problem with the community not having good digital access
  • Improve storytelling
  • Include a new COVID project in the existing digital identity
  • Make the most of the BRIDGE programme to sharpen their digital skills

Every organisation is facing different difficulties that prevent them from improving their digital presence. However, we know that barriers such as the lack of resources, time, and skills are common for many charities.

For some organisations, the problem lies in the bigger picture and the lack of strategic planning. For others, the reduced confidence comes from practical struggles, such as not having the desired engagement or number of followers.

Either way, it’s important to have a starting point on the things that they can do as part of the BRIDGE programme. We are actually working on a new feature (ssh!) in our social media platform that will make it easier for charities to track their progress towards meeting their set objectives.

What do charities want to learn the most during the BRIDGE programme?

Our digital capacity building programme is all about equipping charities with the skills and the support that they need to improve their digital presence.

We’ve asked the participating charities in the new BRIDGE cohort to share their top priorities of what they want to learn during the programme.

The most popular responses were:

  • Increase audience reach 32%
  • Improve fundraising strategy 20%
  • Increase efficiency when using digital tools 17%
  • Improved ability to share stories on digital platforms 10%
  • Increased knowledge around digital tools 7%
  • Increase confidence in using digital tools 3.5%

It’s not surprising that audience growth, fundraising, and digital efficiency are in the Top 3 of the charities’ priorities.

During turbulent times, it’s more important than ever to use digital tools as effectively as possible to reach your goals.

What’s next

We’re only getting started with our new BRIDGE cohort and we’ll make sure we share all our learnings and stories that we discover throughout the way.

Our takeaway, for now, is that adversities can highlight hidden opportunities. COVID-19 has pushed many charities to be more digital to survive a period of uncertainty. It may not look like it, but it can be a blessing in disguise.

As charities uncover the opportunities and the challenges in the current situation, we are ready to work closely with all of them to provide the skills, the support, and the technology to boost their digital presence.

Stay tuned for more!

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