Earlier this week we held the second event for Digital Discovery, our new community to help charity leaders explore opportunities in digital in partnership with the Charity Commission, Grant Thornton UK and Green Park.

You might remember that last year we co-wrote the Charity Commission’s digital guidance for charity boards, Making Digital Work,  along with Grant Thornton UK. There was a lot of interest in the guidance and we realised that there was a need for regular events which form a safe place for charity leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges they are facing in digital, and to get the guidance and support that they need, by hearing from experts and talking to peers.

At the first event charity leaders told us that funding was a major issue in getting the most out of technology, so our event this week focused on that.


We asked three experts in the field, David McNeill, Digital Director at SCVO, Jamie Ward-Smith, CEO at Do It, and Dan Sutch, Director at CAST, to present about how funders and charities can collaborate more effectively on digital projects. We’re really grateful to David, Jamie and Dan for being so generous with their time and ideas.



We then had a great discussion with both funders and charities sharing candid views about where they are at with digital and how the sector could move forward with it. I went home feeling hopeful that things in the sector are starting to change, albeit slowly. And there is definite appetite to do things differently. Whether we all like it or not, digital is fundamentally altering how charities work and I expect that the traditional funder/charity relationship will have to evolve as well if charities are to stay relevant and sustainable.

We were really pleased to see that so many of the charity leaders who came found it useful.




I was really interested to get a second opinion about the issues we’d discussed at the event from the other funders in my network, so put a call out on social media, asking them how they are using digital and what they found useful about it. I got some really good responses. Emma Beeston, UK Grants Advisor at Comic Relief for the South West, told me that:


Harriet Stranks, Director of Grant Making North at Lloyds Bank Foundation, shared her thoughts on how funders can use digital to do due diligence on grant applicants and to support grantees:


Meanwhile, Andrea Clarke, Communities and Engagement Manager at the Big Lottery, thinks funders need to take an integrated approach to digital:


All in all, it feels as if the conventional charity and funder relationship is another area which is ripe for disruption as digital gathers pace.

We’re already planning the next event (in May- date TBC) which will feature live case studies from charities with digital transformation success stories. The events are fairly small and intimate and by invitation only- we restrict numbers so that everyone who comes has a chance to raise the issues they are facing in digital. If you are interested in attending, please drop me a line on