New initiative to help charities close the digital divide

Deloitte is launching a new programme to help charities close the digital divide. ‘Deloitte Digital Connect’ will be delivered in collaboration with CAST, a charity helping organisations use digital for social good. The programme will bring together up to 50 charities, including Deloitte’s 5 Million Futures existing charity partners, and connect them with expertise, advice, and a network to support their digital development.

Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said: “New technologies are rapidly changing how charities need to operate and there’s a growing digital skills gap that threatens their future. The pandemic has inflicted huge disruption to fundraising and volunteering and through our 5 Million Futures strategy we want to share our knowledge and resources to ensure that no charity is left behind.”

Deloitte’s 5 Million Futures team and CAST will be gathering information from all the charities to assess their digital needs and identify the most useful interventions to assist them. In addition, the charities will have access to a variety of mentors, workshops and one-to-one support from teams across Deloitte from tech and digital to law. Deloitte will also be offering pro bono business support.

Research from the ‘Charity Digital Skills report’ showed how charities have been impacted by COVID-19. It found that 78% of charities have deployed digital to speak to new audiences and 83% of charities changed their services in response to demand.

Deloitte’s Black Action Plan charity partner Blueprint for All’s chief executive, Sonia Watson OBE, commented on what this new initiative will mean for her charity: “This will be transformational for us and timely, demand has never been higher for our work and digital delivery is paramount. I have just appointed a digital leader!”

Dan Sutch, co-founder and director at CAST, said: “The pandemic has shown how critical it is that charities have digital capabilities and capacity for service delivery, fundraising and how they operate.  Over two-thirds of organisations see digital as a priority yet less than half, 42%, of charities have someone leading on digital as part of their role. Together with Deloitte, we are here to connect charities with expertise, advice and knowledge sharing – and to support charities to grow their influence and impact.”

Deloitte is committed to building the skills needed to close the digital divide. Responding to the urgent need to get computers into the homes of children who were unable to access online lessons during lockdowns, Deloitte pledged 7,500 laptops to UK schools, charities and families. Deloitte is also one of the founding partners of Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, providing a range of support from curriculum design and business strategy to coaching and hackathons to students, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, aiming to provide the best opportunities to launch their technology careers.

The Prince’s Trust has been a 5 Million Futures’ charity partner for five years and the digital era has created new challenges for The Trust’s mission. Deloitte worked with The Trust to transition all their traditionally face-to-face interactions online. Now for the first time, a young person can search The Prince’s Trust website, find the right programme to suit their needs and take part virtually. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations were hit by disruption, however, The Trust was able to use the digital opportunities identified by Deloitte to rapidly adapt its services, including virtually supporting 2,900 young people to start their own business.

Jonathan Townsend, UK Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust, added: “The digital expertise and connections offered by Deloitte have ensured we are now in a stronger position to implement a clear strategy for the future direction of The Trust’s virtual offer to young people.  The initial phase of work with Deloitte put us in an incredibly strong position for our digital response to the pandemic, continuing to support young people when they needed us most.”

A key outcome of the programme will be providing best practice advice more broadly across the sector.

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