78% of adults in the UK now use the internet every day, and over half - 56% - use the internet for banking. The internet has changed the way we interact and is a core part of everyday life for most of us. That is why the Commission is going digital.
We want to use the internet to become more responsive, more accessible and communicate directly with trustees.
The Commission is already putting more of our services online in a way that is better focussed on the customer, like our new registration service. Eventually each charity will have its own self-service portal where it can update its own information. We also hope to communicate better online using different tools such as live-streaming, video and webinars.
What will this mean for charities, for their regulation, and the public?
1) Charities will be able to self-serve on more issues and get a faster service from us when required
Charities will register and manage their affairs digitally, just as they already do with the annual return. In future, charities will be able to change their names, update trustee details and much more through a single log in, often without any intervention from the Commission as our systems will have the right checks and balances built in. This makes for a much better customer experience, freeing up charities to get on and do what they do best. We will still provide assistance when people run into difficulties.
It also means we will have better, up-to-date data on charities.
2) We will reach more trustees and charities with the information they need to know
We know that a lot of trustees still don’t know enough about their duties, and that not enough are aware of the guidance that is relevant to them and that will help them fulfil their duties.
We want to use our data in a more sophisticated manner to get through to trustees with the information they need. For example new trustees should get emailed The Essential Trustee when they first become trustees so they know what their duties are and are able to govern charities effectively. And trustees should get notifications when our guidance changes.
Digital communication with charities should also help us reach far more charities and trustees than before, whether that’s through live-streaming events, as we did for the first time last month at our public meeting in Southampton or using video to communicate key points to charities in a different way.
All in all, we will be adopting a more nuanced and targeted method of communicating with what is a large and diverse sector – providing the information that you need to know.
3) We will open our information to the public
In a digital age, accountability and transparency are paramount. We plan to make more information about charities public over the next few years, and more searchable, making it easier for the public to find out about the charities they support. It may also help third parties to develop apps or information services for charities or the public to make use of data they find interesting.
4) We will concentrate on the work the public values
More streamlined, automated digital processes on our low risk work will take our people out of routine work. Instead, they will be able to concentrate on the more complicated work that needs the attention of our expert staff. This will be work such as monitoring charities in difficulty, using our powers in difficult cases or complex registration cases. This is the work the public expects us to do well and will ensure more resource can go towards it.
We’re part of the way through a journey to deliver a digitally focussed Commission that meets the needs of charities. Keep us posted with your thoughts and ideas of things you would like to see and how we can do it better.
So what would we like you to do now? If you’re a charity trustee, make sure you’ve given us your email so you can get updates from us four times a year, and watch this space for more!