Making sense of what digital maturity means in the charity sector

Making sense of what ‘digital maturity’ means in the charity sector

Innovation Unboxed worked with Think Social Tech and CAST between May to June 2019 to build a picture of the shape and nature of digital maturity frameworks across the charity sector. We analysed their content and identified consistent patterns in how they describe what digital maturity should look like.    What surprised us most is that despite the ‘noise’ surrounding digital maturity, there is little shared vision as to what best practice looks like. The breadth and diversity of tools and advice demonstrate that the sector is maturing and suggests that there are increasing levels of interest and a desire from organisations to better understand how they should be thinking about using digital and how they might need to think about its use to help them develop. 

See our medium blog for our reflections.

Whilst the evidence base for these tools remains limited suggesting there is a substantial amount of work to be done in the sector. The milestones of progress are for example often poorly defined. As a result, it is incredibly challenging to identify the most appropriate pathways organisations could follow when taking the next steps in digital.    We did, however, find that the tools that exist focus on a broad cross-section of issues, 19 areas of digital maturity in total. Most focusing on an average of 7 and are based on the priorities or intuitive practices of the author. Whilst we recommended 8 of these tools the signposting to the steps organisations should take to develop their digital maturity is at best, inconsistent and at worst, contradictory. 

We hope that the resources we have put together help to fill the gap in knowledge of what exists and good practice. We developed the following resources to support organisations interested in developing their digital capabilities:

  • A guide to digital maturity frameworks: Intended to support those in charities to navigate the landscape of digital maturity frameworks and diagnostic tools. It recommends and describes 8 key frameworks, as well as signposting to other frameworks relevant to specific topics or types of organisations. 
  • A public map of digital maturity frameworks: This gives an overview of the tools on offer, listing the 50 unique frameworks, with details about the host organisation, date, target audience, description, use case, evidence base and focus areas. 
  • A slide deck detailing all of our findings, with further reflections on the pros and cons of digital maturity frameworks and our recommendations. 
  • A poster summarising our research

Longer-term, we believe a shared understanding of digital maturity and best practice in describing this is needed in the social sector to help tool developers enhance their work.