Published: 28 January 2010

In the excitement about digital, don’t forget the people

To do well at digital, you need the staff to take on the work. Conivo's Jim Raymond explains how charities usually increase their digital team

The digital world is full of exciting opportunities for charities to connect with supporters and achieve real change for good in society.

Whether it’s social networking, Twitter, mobile apps or the next big thing, every day brings new ideas and ways of going digital.  Now, I’m a passionate believer in the transformative power that digital technology brings to charities and spend my days helping clients become ever more digitally led in their communications activities. 

Four stages 

But increasingly one of my roles as a consultant is to help those responsible for digital in charities to focus on the people in their organisation, to ensure the right skills and right level of resource is in place. Very often the starting point for charities who want to raise their game online is to focus on changing the technology based on the assumption that it’s not possible or necessary to change the people. 

But good technology is irrelevant if there's no-one to get the most from it.  Even bad technology can deliver spectacular results in the hands of a skilled and creative person.In our experience, charities seem to go through four stages of development with resourcing their digital activity. 

They will appoint staff in the following stages:

Stage 1: Volunteer – maybe a volunteer or staff member with other responsibilities.

Stage 2: Webmaster – often a part or full time technical resource with or without a content management system.

Stage 3: Web Editor – usually with a content management system and they'll have started to employ other team members.

Stage 4: Head of new media – leading a team of different disciplines.How far the organisation’s progressed through these different stages often depends on: the size and cause of the charity, the scale of the audience you're reaching online, the priority given to digital, potential returns from digital and length of time the organisation has been investing in digital.

Each stage has its pros and cons and a charity may well stay at any given stage indefinitely. We’ve been able to help charities make significant progress with digital by moving up a stage or by scaling up within a stage.Searching on the web, there’s lots of information about technology, but there’s much less information to help charities of any size determine what sort of skills they need to support their digital activities. 

It’s also hard to find information to help those responsible for websites to make the business case for increasing resources dedicated to digital communications.I’m always looking for feedback from people in charities as to what digital skills work well, what types of digital team structure are successful and how to scale up. 


Jim Raymond, operations director, Convio

Convio is a leading provider of integrated marketing software and services for charities in the UK.