Why be a digital trustee in the charity sector?

By Anna Doyle
14 Mar 2019

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We’ve set up the BIMA Charities Council to help connect incredible charities with best-in-class private sector organisations. We want every charity to become more digital, regardless of their size, reach or income. We believe true digital transformation fundamentally rewrites an organisation’s DNA, changing its ways of working, mindset and culture.

One route for charities to support their digital transformation journey is to recruit a Digital Trustee onto their board. At BIMA we believe this not only brings a wealth of digital expertise into charity organisations, but also provides a valuable experience for digital practitioners. So, through the BIMA Charities Council and through BIMA Scotland, we’re keen to support all the work being done to define what a digital trustee should be and to source industry professionals into these roles.

We’ve received a lot of interest from the BIMA membership to get involved as trustees and much of the interest people have cited has been based on a desire to give back, learn more and meet new people. As well as the career boost that comes with extending their professional networks, and gaining new skills and experience.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, Reach Volunteering in the UK are working hard to match digital capabilities into Third Sector organisations and you can find out more about what they do here 

At the other end of the spectrum, understanding the importance of digital within an organisational strategy, and identifying the skills required to deliver that strategy, is crucial to a charity’s success. This is where a digital board member can add huge value. Reach Volunteering write more about this here 

Meanwhile, North of Hadrian’s Wall, The Third Sector Lab and SCVO have combined manpower and knowledge to create a digitally confident third sector in Scotland. They published their Call to Action 2 years ago.  This was to encourage third sector organisations to explore, adapt, invest and collaborate to create a more digitally confident third sector in Scotland. It was recognised that the change required would be different for every organisation, but there were 5 overarching themes to focus on:

Effective leadership

Digital culture

Service delivery

Data driven

Flexible technology 

In Q4 2018, after listening to more than 80 senior leaders on their digital journeys, they published a follow up Call to Action to review progress and provide practical examples of how charity organisations are adapting and evolving in the digital world. You can read the full report here. It includes a list of top 15 actions to undertake to help your charity digitally evolve. (page 19). 

Of course it needs to be very clear what a Digital Trustee is and isn’t, and based on where charity is on their digital transformation what kind of trustee are they looking for. What are the specific skills and focus required? Does the Digital Trustee understand the challenges and opportunities for the charity? Zoe Amar, Janet Thorne, Sally Dyson and Ellie Hale have worked together to create an easy to use infographic to help charities think through this process.

It would also work as a questioning resource for anyone who’s considering becoming a Digital Trustee, and wants to make sure they’re connecting with the right organisation for them.

If you’re interested in being a Digital Trustee you can view current roles at Reach Volunteering and Do It

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Digital Trustee and how BIMA can help, contact annadoyle@bima.co.uk

Supporting Digital Trustees is just one way the BIMA Charities Council will drive practical digital transformation advice and guidance across the charity sector. For organisations of all shapes and sizes.

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