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  • thirdsectorleaders

Digital Transformation and Digital Leadership

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The relentless pace of digital tech adoption shows no signs of stopping. For TSOs, digital represents both a huge opportunity and a challenge that needs to be tackled to stay relevant and drive their impact. However, the latest Charity Digital Skills Report found that 58% of charities rate their digital leadership skills as fair to low, despite 64% wishing that they would offer a better digital strategy. Carol Rudge, Global and UK Head of Non-profit at Grant Thornton UK, argues that: "People are at the heart of successfully utilising digital: getting the right skills, the right leadership and the right governance in place is vital and should be seen as a long-term investment in the foundations of a successful organisation." Help is at hand. Here are the top resources and networking opportunities available for non-profit and charity leaders in the UK to learn and develop their digital leadership skills (Charity Digital, 2019).



In their study on Digital Transformation of Non-Profit Organisations and the Impact on Their Project Performance, Saidoun and Bodea (2021) discuss how digital transformation in NPOs substantially improve project performance and coordination between NPO leaders. The study describes the positive impacts of digital transformation as “increase[ing] the correctness of data, accuracy of status reports and forecasts and transparency of data, customer/stakeholder satisfaction, project control, better team satisfaction and [enables the] receiving [of] the right information with a single button click (Saidoun & Bodea, 2021:34).”


However, the study emphasised the realisation that the positive impacts of digital transformation can only be exhibited when digital transformation is implemented by project leaders. Moreover, the study addressed the fact that while digital transformation increases the efficiency and productivity of project leaders, these digital tools need to be used correctly in order to avoid “misunderstandings, delays, budget-overrun and reduc[tion in] stakeholder satisfaction (Saidoun & Bodea, 2021:34).”


Digital leadership is the most essential component for driving digital transformation. Charity leaders, from trustees and CEOs to senior management teams, must be brave, bold, open to change and enthusiastic about taking risks. They must be forward-thinking, understand how digital can help the charity achieve its goals and not be afraid to make changes to achieve this (CharityComms, 2018).


A report by Azets argues that if digital is going to be fundamental to the future of the third sector, then necessarily digital leadership will be essential for an organisation. Whichever way a TSO decides to balance leadership of digital, the overarching aim has to be that both the board and the senior management team feel confident and engaged in implementing digital strategies to achieve their aims and objectives and improve long-term performance. Ultimately, technical skill levels aside, digital leadership requires an open minded, digitally curious, passionate individual to open the doors to digital transformation.


References

1. Azets.co.uk. 2021. Digital In the Third Sector. Available from: https://www.azets.co.uk/media/bkfdhefe/digital-in-the-third-sector-issue-2.pdf (Accessed 4 November 2021).

2. CharityComms. (2018). The digital age: digital leadership to pave the way for culture change. Available from: https://www.charitycomms.org.uk/events/heads-of-digital-october-2018 (Accessed 4 November 2021).

3. Charity Digital Editorial. (2019). The best digital leadership resources for non-profits in the UK. Available from: https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/the-best-digital-leadership-resources-for-non-profits-in-the-uk-6039 (Accessed 4 November 2021).

4. Saidoun, A. & Bodea. C. (2021). Digital Transformation of Non-Profit Organisations and the Impact on Their Project Performance. 9th Scientific Conference with International Participation All about People: Digital Transformation in Science, Education and Arts. Organized by Alma Mater Europaea. Maribor:30-38. Available from: http://press.almamater.si/index.php/amp.

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