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Why charity finance leaders are holding the key to digital success

Zoe Amar, one of the charity sector's leading digital experts, launches The Charity Digital Code of Practice consultation and tells us why a good leader is a digital leader.

Post byGuest blogger

I recently had an eye opening conversation with a charity finance director following a session at a recent CFG conference. After attending a workshop there, he said that he needed to get more involved with digital. At his charity he’d sat in on the meetings about digital projects, talked to the team, and read the papers, but he hadn’t fully engaged. The reason for this change? He realised that digital wasn’t just about digital. It was about what the future of his charity looked like, and how digital could make it more resilient and sustainable. He was energised by the possibilities and he wanted to be part of it.

A good leader is a digital leader, as we argue in The Charity Digital Code of Practice which opened for consultation last week.  Everyone has a role to play in digital change regardless of the team they lead. I think finance leaders have a particularly important job here.

Digital may sit under the finance team in organisational structure, whilst in digitally mature organisations digital may either be a well resourced department in its own right, or have diffused into most teams across the organisation. In any of these scenarios the finance leader can offer invaluable insights. Why? Because of the pivotal role they play. When I worked for a charity for 5 years our finance director was the person who knew what was really going on.  It helped that she was my boss and we had a good working relationship! I knew that her take on strategy and the charity’s long term sustainability was always worth hearing. Equally, she wanted to know how digital could help shape the organisation’s future.  

That’s why CFG are on the steering group for The Charity Digital Code of Practice, which aims to solve one of the big challenges facing the sector at the moment: what does digital success look like? The Code has been developed by a group of organisations including CFG, the Charity Commission, Office for Civil Society, DCMS’ Digital Enterprise Delivery Taskforce, ACEVO, NCVO, SCVO and more, and has been funded by Lloyds Banking Group and the Co-Op Foundation.

I’m really keen that we hear from more finance leaders as part of the consultation, especially CFG’s members. The Code is aimed at charity leaders and has been designed to increase charities’ digital skills, improve uptake of digital in charities, and create a level playing field for all organisations by increasing digital motivation and confidence. Many have commented that the framework is crafted in a language that is familiar to charity leaders and trustees, and it’s true that we based it on the Charity Governance Code so that the two documents can be read alongside each other. I think that this principle works both ways though; the Code should make it easy for finance leaders to have the conversation with the digital team, and vice versa.

We would love to hear what you think of The Charity Digital Code of Practice. Please get involved and help us shape how the charity sector uses digital.

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