Charity Digital Skills Report 2024

This is a guest blog written by Eshe Kiama Zuri and Nissa Ramsay. In this post, we explain our focus on diversity, equality and inclusion in the 2024 Charity Digital Skills Report. We also outline our language, terms and approach to identifying specific groups and diverse communities. This is an updated version of the 2023 blog.

We recently launched the 2024 Charity Digital Skills Survey (complete it here). It is open to all UK social sector organisations. In the survey, you will see that we ask about digital in a very holistic way. We ask questions about specific digital skills and IT provision, along with board and leadership skills. 

One of the key aims of the survey is to identify what support and funding the sector needs in order to move forward with digital. To do this, we’d like to find out if some groups within the sector have experienced barriers to funding or support, so we can make the case for the help that is needed. This requires compelling data. 

Consultant Eshe Kiama Zuri (see helped us ask more about and renew our focus on diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI). Eshe participated in user testing and outreach and, in 2023, provided support on DEI and inclusivity. This post outlines our choices. We have updated it to reflect our approach in 2024. 

About The Charity Digital Skills Report 

Our report began way back in 2017, when Zoe Amar spotted that there was a gap in the market for a survey to track digital adoption across the charity sector. Our aim was – and continues to be – to gather data and insights about digital skills and adoption, funding and support needs across the sector, so we can help charities make the case for change. In partnership with The Workforce Development Trust, Zoe developed the survey and, as it grew in the years that followed, built a small but mighty team to develop and deliver the report.

The report has a high profile in the sector, but it is still run by a small team on a relatively tight budget. Zoe Amar Digital now has sole ownership of the report but it wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of everyone who helps make it happen. This consists of Nissa Ramsay, report co-author and founder at Think Social Tech, Zoe Amar, report co-author, Holly Cuthbert and Helen Vaux (who collectively work on digital comms across all our channels and proofreading), Jasmine Nehme (report website development), Janine Mitchell (PR), Eshe Kiama Zuri (inclusion consultant) and last but not least, Carla Adol, the report’s designer. We’re a project team who come together once a year to create the report. We juggle the report alongside many other projects we all work on separately across the sector and this means that we are able to bring diverse perspectives and insights to the report. 

Inclusion in The Charity Digital Skills Report

The social sector and the funding available needs to be more inclusive. 

Research and campaigns (such as Uncharitable, Ubele, CharitySoWhite, CharitySoStraight) highlight the impact of institutional racism, power and inequality. This is resulting in chronic underfunding for some groups and challenges with organisational development. 

There are funders working collectively to address these inequalities. Examples include the Funders for Race Equality Alliance and the DEI Data Standard. There are also funders looking to better support racial diversity, groups with lived experience, Black-led organisations and communities experiencing racial inequality.  

On the back of this, we chose to focus on a small number of specific groups for the survey. We chose these because they face barriers to accessing funding. We also tailored these based on user feedback and consultation with our consultant, Eshe Kiama Zuri. We did need to revise some of the language and terms we originally intended to use in order to make them accessible to those who may be unfamiliar. And this year we have added additional categories that align with the DEI data standard and to gain further insight.

We hope that these groups, as well as the language we use to describe them, will enable us to collect meaningful data. We want to make sure:

  • the language makes sense to participants
  • the groups make sense to participants
  • the groups will enable stakeholders to act on the survey findings  
  • we can collect enough data to analyse and report on (over 30 responses).

It’s important to note that no terms are perfect. We do not claim that these are the terms that should be used as the standard. We will continue to seek feedback on these with the intention that all respondents feel included and able to share their experiences in the survey.

Our language and terminology

In the survey, we have asked about the core purpose of the organisation to serve the following groups and whether the organisation is led by the following groups:

  • Our services are open to everyone
  • People with lived experience of the issue we address
  • Specific geographical population/s (e.g. residents in a town)
  • Black communities (Black / African / Caribbean / Black British / Black Mixed / Black Other)
  • Other racialised communities
  • Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants
  • Disabled or d/Deaf people
  • Neurodivergent people (and/or people with learning disabilities)
  • LGBTQIA+ people
  • Marginalised genders
  • Faith communities
  • Older people (65+)
  • Young people (16-25)
  • Children (under 16)
  • People who are educationally or economically disadvantaged
  • Another group not identified here.

When completing the survey, it is possible to tick multiple options. Using options that can overlap rather than exclusionary single options means that we can collate precise data on the communities that we are focusing on. These questions are mainly relevant to organisations providing frontline services. To this end, we included an option for those providing other types of services. This ensures responses are relevant.  

Black groups (Black / African / Caribbean / Black British / Black Mixed)

We have created a category for Black groups in addition to racialised communities, as whilst Black groups are also racialised communities, it is important to identify that Black groups experience both general racial oppression and targeted racial oppression (as anti-Blackness). Charity Commission data shows that Black people are poorly represented on charity boards and 92% of trustees are white, older and above-average income and education. Ubele and Centre Black also highlight how Black-led organisations operate in an environment of structural inequality. 

Due to the amalgamation of Black groups with all other racialised communities under the terms BAME/BME, there is a lack of data that is specific to Black communities and Black-led nonprofit organisations. Following the pledges that were made to Black communities in 2020 (after George Floyd was murdered), we want to see if there have been any changes to the access to digital support and funding, as well as the needs Black-led charities and charities focusing on supporting Black groups may have. This will require ongoing research to monitor trends and data and to see whether the support was continued or merely a temporary and performative act.

Other racialised communities

When we use the term other racialised communities we mean people who experience racial oppression. In using the term other racialised communities, we are trying to move away from BAME/BME, which is an increasingly outdated term. Other racialised communities allows more space for all people who are racialised to be included, as not everyone is comfortable with or is included under alternatives such as people of colour (POC).

We have a separate category for Black African, Black Caribbean or Black British descent. Whilst Black groups are also racialised communities, we are seeking specific data for Black groups. Please check both boxes if your charity focuses on Black groups and other racialised communities together.

For this year’s survey, we are not requiring data from specific groups other than Black groups or we would have made the appropriate distinctions. This may change for future surveys but currently data for other groups has not been requested of us.

Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants

An asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. An asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which they have submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will be recognised as a refugee. A refugee is someone unable to return to their home country and has been granted international protection. Migrants are people who have left their home country either by choice or who may have left for their own safety, but for whatever reason are not classed as asylum seekers or refugees in the UK.

Disabled or d/Deaf

We are using the term d/Deaf, which is a more inclusive term for people within the spectrums of d/Deafness. Lower case deaf is often seen as people who have significant hearing loss, are hard of hearing or may have other hearing loss. Upper case Deaf is often explained as culturally Deaf, with people who may have been born Deaf or who actively engage in the Deaf community. 

Disabled is used as an umbrella term for physical, mental and chronic disabilities – it can also overlap with the category neurodivergent people, including those with cognitive differences, learning disabilities and learning difficulties. Both formal or self diagnosis as disabled is valid. We understand that there are many factors that can prevent people from receiving a formal diagnosis, such as excessive waiting lists, medical racism, sexism and prejudice. 

Neurodivergent people, including those with cognitive differences, learning disabilities and learning difficulties

We use neurodivergent people, including those with cognitive differences, learning disabilities and learning difficulties to include the spectrum of neurodivergent identities. 

This is inclusive of people with developmental disabilities, cognitive disabilities, neurological disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and psychosocial disabilities, such as autism, ADHD, Tourettes, dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc. 

Neurodivergent also encompasses those who have cognitive differences, learning disabilities or learning difficulties. We have clarified that they are included in our framing.

We also include people with or without a formal diagnosis, because there are many factors that can prevent people from receiving a formal diagnosis, such as excessive waiting lists, medical racism, sexism and prejudice. 

We understand that ‘neurodivergent’ is a non-medical term, but we are using it as an umbrella term that is seen as inclusive to the expansive spectrum of neurodivergent communities and conditions. Thank you for the feedback from the 2023 survey that has allowed us to update and correct our language.

LGBTQIA+ people

We use the expanded term LGBTQIA+ that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and agender, plus all other identities that fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.

Marginalised genders

Under the umbrella term marginalised genders, we are including: 

  • cisgender, intersex and transgender women and girls
  • non-binary and agender people
  • intersex and transgender men
  • and anyone else who faces or has previously faced sexism or gender based oppression.

Rather than using the term women and girls, we promote using marginalised genders, as it looks at all people who experience sexism/gender-based inequality. We commonly see that intersex and transgender women or other non-cisgender women are not included when using the term women and girls. Non-binary people and intersex and transgender men also can currently or may previously have experienced sexism/gender-based inequality and are included with the terminology marginalised genders, whereas they would also be excluded by the use of women and girls. 

Focusing on small organisations

The Charity Digital Skills Report 2022 and 2023 highlighted that small UK charities face specific challenges around tech, digital and data. This year we have undertaken user testing with small groups to ensure our questions are inclusive of their experiences. We will continue to explore differences in digital skills according to size. 

Welsh charities

In 2023, we launched our first Cymraeg (Welsh) language version of the survey. We are happy to adhere to the legal right to Cymraeg (Welsh) language access and have a Cymraeg (Welsh) version available again for the 2024 survey. This has been made possible by additional support we will be receiving from Catalyst – diolch (thank you)! 

We hope to grow our responses across all countries in the UK and intend to provide further insights on any variations in digital skills between each country if we are able to achieve enough responses.

Providing support through the survey

We very much appreciate the time that participants put into the Charity Digital Skills Report. We also try to promote diversity and inclusion in the following ways:

  • We are offering the chance to enter into a prize draw to win one of five prizes of unrestricted funding of £500. Organisations with any level of income can enter. Three prizes are ring fenced for organisations with an income of up to £1 million. Catalyst will administer three prizes. Zoe Amar Ltd will administer two prizes, which are ring fenced for registered charities and will be made as charitable donations. 
  • We provide links to further support and guidance throughout the survey.
  • We have changed the questions to ensure they make sense to participants, based on user testing. We also used the Hemingway App to help make our writing bold and clear.

Help us do more 

Please complete the survey and/or share with other relevant UK-based organisations! Take the survey here. 

We hear anecdotally that the survey creates time to reflect and to think more about their digital approach. Some learn about new aspects of digital as a result. 

If you want to give feedback about the survey or how you have used the report, we do have an impact survey.

If you do have any feedback, or want to discuss this with us, please do get in touch.