GetWired – The Report
Back in early November 2015, as part of Trustee Week, Peridot Partners and The Social Change Agency brought a range of charity and tech/digital leaders together to discuss issues around tech/digital and governance.
Knowing that the future would always be digital regardless of which sector you operate in, we wanted to know why there was a specific shortage of digital and tech strategy skills on charity boards. We wanted to explore with practitioners what the sector could do about it and generate some very practical suggestions to help.
We came up with this report as a result of this piece of work.
GetWired – The Event
We had over 50 people attend our event held at tech investor Balderton Capital. What followed was a lively discussion both around the barriers of getting tech/digital people onto charity boards, and a very thorough debate around recommendations that both the tech/digital and the charity sectors could adopt to remove these barriers. We promised – and we are proud to be – launching the full report of the discussions and recommendations here.
With mobile accounting for over 50% of traffic to charities and digital fundraising increasing by a factor of 10 over the past decade, charities have had no option but to embrace digital if they want to thrive in the future. It became apparent during the event was that there is a huge gap between organisations embracing tech/digital at a strategic level and those who outsource digital support for their organisations. Luckily, it was also apparent that both sectors are very passionate about creating a positive social impact, but had just never sat down to discuss how that might look beyond the client / supplier relationship. What started off as a discussion around the barriers for change, evolved into discussions around a need for transformative action at a strategic level from both sectors to enable both sides to get the best out of each other.
Increasing Digital Capacity on Trustee Boards – the barriers
The strongest point to emerge was the culture clash between tech / digital and charity governance practice. There is a very real tension between the speed of business and pace of change in charities compared to high-pace / fast change tech and digital cultures, and these people don’t quite ‘get’ the legal and compliance elements of governance. It was no surprise then that we found that the perceptions of bureaucratic and rigid processes in the charity sector ‘turn-off’ people working with innovation in tech / digital environments.
Furthermore, it was evident that charities don’t understand the diversity of skills and people in the digital/tech space. They tend to lump all these people together and underestimate the potential impact of recruiting such Trustees. There needs to be more recognition of both the value of recruiting new types of digital/tech savvy people to boards and consideration to the right type of skills that are needed.
Rather worryingly the Trustee role is not clearly understood by people in the tech/digital space and people wanting to volunteer in the charity sector don’t know how to access the opportunities. (We suspect this isn’t just restricted just to this particular sector but it came out very strongly in discussions).
And finally, charities often fail to set out clearly the expectations and anticipated impact of new Trustees, which is detrimental to people who are carefully choosing where to give their time. They want to be assured that if they volunteer their time, they can have an impact and add real value to the charity.
The good news is, as the event clearly demonstrated, that these barriers are not insurmountable. GetWired enabled us to develop a range of recommendations for organisations, charities and individuals to create change. Considering the huge range of tech/digital talent in the UK, and the high need for robust governance to steer organisations through the choppy waters of change, developing digital/tech skills and understanding on boards will be critical to the future success of all charities.
The report is free for all as Peridot Partners and The Social Change Agency are committed to improving governance, encouraging innovation and striving to bring new and exciting talent into the charity sector. We hope that reading the report is your first step in helping you on your digital governance journey – either as an organisation or as a potential trustee.
Keep your eyes peeled for the follow up to our GetWired event where the focus will be on attracting talented senior fundraisers to Trustee Boards.
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Finally, the event enabled us to generate a great pool of over senior 20 digital / tech professionals wanting to become Trustees.
If you are looking for such people please contact Grant Taylor: Grant@peridotpartners.co.uk or 07958 690 184.
Grant Taylor, Managing Director of Peridot Partners Ltd. @GrantAtPeridot
Esther Foreman, Chief Exec of The Social Change Agency. @socialchangeag