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Not-for-profits struggling with digital skills shortage

While not-for-profits are getting better at adopting technology, many are still struggling to keep up with the digital world through a lack of skills, knowledge and resources.

That's according to a new national report released by Infoxchange, Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand.

The annual Digital Technology in the Not-for-Profit Sector provides a comprehensive look at not-for-profit technology use across Australia and New Zealand.

The report found that 64% of not-for-profit organisations are less than satisfied with the way they use technology, and that 54% of staff are not confident or only a bit confident when using new technology. Youth services are particularly struggling, scoring the lowest on average across skills, satisfaction and approach to technology.

And despite half of the 492 organisations surveyed identifying staff capability as one of their biggest challenges when it comes to technology, 40% said there were not currently offering their staff any opportunities to improve their digital skills.

Now in its fourth year, this is the first report released since Infoxchange, Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand officially joined forces in November 2018.

The report surveyed not-for-profit organisations from a broad range of service areas across Australia and New Zealand, and covers topics such as information systems, infrastructure, staff capability, online presence and emerging technologies.

Infoxchange Group CEO David Spriggs says the report provides a valuable snapshot on how the sector is performing, while also providing a benchmark for organisations to check themselves against.

"It's vital for our sector to understand where the opportunities are to improve, so we can ensure no one is left behind and we're all reaping the full benefits that our digital world has to offer," Spriggs says. 

"Our sector is under increasing pressure to do more with less, but we know that not-for-profits that put in the time and effort now to develop staff capability and improve systems will see enormous benefits to their service delivery and impact in the future," he explains.

The report found that:

  • Youth services had the lowest average score across three key areas of technology use: organisational approach, staff capability and overall satisfaction. Employment services ranked the highest.
  • Forty-one percent of not-for-profits said their current approach to technology is challenged or basic.
  • Not-for-profits spend an average of 6% of their operating budget on technology, which is on par with small to medium businesses across the region. However, disability services spend 50% less than the average.
  • More not-for-profits are moving to the cloud than ever before 43% have already made the move, up from 35% in 2018.
  • Most not-for-profits (89%) are now using at least one social media platform, with 87% using Facebook followed by 33% using Instagram.
  • Not-for-profits are embracing new and emerging technology, with 48% using tools such as mobile apps, assistive technology, data-driven solutions and artificial intelligence.

Spriggs says that the reports findings are important because technology is a vital part of any modern organisation, and not-for-profits are no exception.

"We know that having the right technology means that organisations can save time and money, deliver their services more effectively and better understand the impact they're having," he says.

"The success of any not-for-profit in the future is going to be largely dependent on how well they are able to embrace technology."