Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration to Support Charity Digital Transformation

digital trustees march event 2024 (1)

100% Digital Leeds shares how cross-sector collaboration can support businesses to implement their Corporate Social Responsibility offers and increase the digital capacity of charitable organisations.

In today’s digital age, charities face new challenges and opportunities that require them to adapt to the changing landscape of technology, but many charities are not equipped to drive digital transformation.

To address this issue representatives from the city’s tech sector, 100% Digital LeedsLeeds Community Foundation, and Voluntary Action Leeds have come together to form Leeds Digital Volunteering Partnership (LDVP). With initiatives like their upcoming Digital Trustees Matchmaking Event, LDVP fosters cross-sector collaboration, supporting businesses to implement their Corporate Social Responsibility offers and learn from communities, and harnessing tech sector support to increase the digital capacity of charitable organisations.

The Challenge: Leeds charities’ digital skills and capacity

Leeds’s charitable sector is made up of over 3,000 highly valued organisations that tackle inequalities and promote self-improvement at grassroots level. It is diverse in its activities and reaches across the city into most neighbourhoods and communities.

The pandemic and cost of living crisis have had a huge impact on the sector. Funding and capacity have fallen as the need for support has increased dramatically for communities experiencing the greatest health, social, and economic inequalities. According to the latest State of the Third Sector in Leeds report the sector saw a £33 million drop in funding between 2020 and 2023, a decline that is sure to worsen in the current financial crisis. Over the same period the sector has seen a 34% drop in paid staff, a 25% drop in volunteers, and a 7% drop in Trustees.

Where charities have digitally confident staff, Trustees, and volunteers, digital transformation has helped to increase fundraising efforts, improve service delivery, expand trust and transparency, enhance marketing and communications, and create more efficient day-to-day operations. According to the 2023 Charity Digital Skills Report 78% of charities say digital is now more of a priority and 66% are interested in making use of emerging technology. However, 73% say they don’t feel prepared to respond to the opportunities and challenges it brings, with fewer than half having a strategy to focus their approach to digital transformation.

Responding to the challenge

LDVP fosters cross-sector partnerships that enable tech businesses and their employees to support much needed third sector digital transformation. Companies who have already volunteered their time report that supporting a charity is a rewarding experience. As well as being an opportunity for volunteers to develop their own skills, they know their energy has made a real difference for the communities of Leeds.

KPMG has supported Gipsil, a charity working with people in the most disadvantaged communities in Leeds to realise their potential, to move their digital strategy towards more cloud-based products away from on-premise virtual desktop technologies, improving collaboration and information flow.

“Working with GIPSIL has been really rewarding and it has been a privilege to contribute to their digital evolution.”

Simon, Principal Software Engineer, KPMG.

Accenture has supported Burmantofts Community Friends, a charity improving quality of life for older people in the neighbourhood with the lowest average household income in Leeds, to build the digital skills and confidence of its service users, so they can live independently for longer.

“It’s a really nice way of doing something for local communities and I find it super rewarding. When you work in an IT company you can just be behind a desk all day and you might do important work, but you don’t get to meet people who use it and see the benefits of it. Volunteering gives our engineers insight into the things they need to think about when designing systems. Part of our audience have got absolutely no experience of using digital and we need to be mindful of that, otherwise we’re potentially losing a whole lot of users. I just love going down there and meeting all the people. I find it uplifting to help the members.”

Tim, Full Stack Engineering Associate Manager, Accenture.

Get involved: Support a charity’s digital transformation by volunteering as a Digital Trustee

Leeds Digital Volunteering Partnership is working with Third Sector Lab to host a Digital Trustees Matchmaking Event  that will connect professionals from tech, data, design, IT and other digital backgrounds with charities looking for support with digital transformation.

Digital Trustees are individuals with experience in digital, data or design who volunteer their time to sit on the Board of a charity and offer their expertise to help charities improve their digital strategy and capabilities. They provide guidance to the organisation around how they can make best use of digital as well as insight into best digital practices, helping the charity adapt to the changing landscape of technology. It is estimated that there are currently over 100,000 Trustee vacancies across the charitable sector.

Volunteering to support a charity as a Digital Trustee helps individuals develop their leadership skills, make a real impact on the future of a cause they care about, and feel connected to the city. Charities that recruit volunteers with digital skills to their Board of Trustees can tap into their expertise to develop effective digital strategies, enhance their digital presence, and ultimately achieve their goals more efficiently.

An experienced marketer working in technology for over a decade, Rachel Mcelroy, is Marketing Director for advanced digital delivery consultancy Axiologik, based in Leeds. She utilises the four volunteering days a year Axiologik offers staff to use outside of work for causes they care about to volunteer as a Board Trustee for Fareshare Yorkshire, as a Board member for Boycott Your Bed, and as part of the Yorkshire board of the Certified Institute of Marketing (CIM) as vice chair of events. She recently wrote a blog for Voluntary Action Leeds sharing her thoughts on why becoming a trustee will bring you happiness.

“Becoming a trustee is a great way of contributing to good causes you care about, learn new skills, and give you a real sense of purpose — outside of your day job… It is critical to attract people that can add value, from diverse backgrounds and experiences. They bring a fresh perspective and support for initiatives that will underpin the foundations of the charity far into the future. At a time when demand on charities is at an all-time high, trustees are a critical part of their operational strategy.”

Rachel Mcelroy, Marketing Director for advanced digital delivery consultancy Axiologik and charity Trustee.

If you’re interested in supporting a local charity as a Digital Trustee join Leeds Digital Volunteering Partnership at the Digital Trustees Matchmaking Event taking place Thursday 28th March 2024 10:00am – 11:30am, online.

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