Playing with the Charity Digital Code: Try, Test, Learn

By Michelle Hill
07 June 2019

I’m travelling home from a couple of days in London, full of a cold and tired. Not the best mood to be in to write a blog perhaps…

So why am I?

Well firstly, because I’m a good girl and I said I would! I recently completed a 4 day course on Digital Leadership, funded by DCMS. The course was run by the School of Social Entrepreneurs and Zoe Amar Associates and writing an end of course blog was one of the requirements for completion.

And… I’ve not done it yet. However, firstly, I don’t like not doing what I said I would, so I’m making myself write.

Secondly, because the other option was to submit a video and no one should be subjected to my red nose, streaming eyes and croaking voice at the moment.

Ok, thirdly, and most importantly, because somewhat surprisingly to me, I have totally embraced digital and wanted to share what I learnt.

The Third Sector Digital Leaders Course (or #3secdigi) was all about social leaders using digital for good. I went into the course nervous but excited. I’m not even sure I understood what digital was, never mind what mine (and our organisational) digital maturity was and not at all sure of my appetite for digital transformation.  

The pre-course exercise was to complete a digital maturity matrix and that cemented my belief that we could and should be doing more with digital, but at that point I had no idea what.

I came out of the 4 day course transformed and excited.

I realised I knew more than I thought I did and that I was better at digital than I expected.

I still don’t fully understand blockchain or bitcoin but I learnt the following:


1. Our digital strategy does not need to be a separate document but can be integrated throughout our organisational strategy and business plan.

This was key to us as we update our business plan annually and are just starting to write our next 3 year strategic plan. Incorporating digital throughout not only saved time, but made perfect sense. It means that digital is not a bolt on or a nice added extra but is key to everything we do. We write our strategic plan using a balanced scorecard methodology with equal focus on 4 segments of learning and growth, internal business processes, finance and client and customer focus and we are now weaving digital throughout all these segments.

2. We have lots of digital products and innovations already

We already have a website, use social media and have a Google Adwords account. We have a cloud-based case management system, a separate cloud-based HR system and a separate cloud based finance system. We are all on Office 365. But, we’ve not made the most of the systems we have, we’ve not integrated them and they don’t talk to each other. Meaning – that we don’t need mass investment at the moment but just time to take baby steps to make what we do have work better and smarter for us.

3. That although I’m still no digital expert I now know the right questions to ask and have some pretty amazing digital bods in my team.

Our digital transformation taskforce was born very quickly after my return to the office and although talks of apps and Artificial Intelligence were exciting, we decided to focus on making everything we already have the very best it can be before moving onto the next new thing. We have masses and masses of data – on how people find out about us, how they engage with us and the impact our services have. But we’ve not yet joined that data up to understand our user insights. We’re doing that now (well I say we, and I mean our amazing digital transformation taskforce team are)!

4. There are so many resources out there already to help us.

The Charity Digital Code was a brilliant starting point. It told me what we were doing well, where we could stretch ourselves and what we’d not even thought of yet. It will be our blueprint for the next few years. 


5. That a “try, test, learn” approach means nothing is too scary because you never fail too big or too hard.

That means we can try things and have a bit of fun as we go. I’ve persuaded our Marketing and Comms Manager to have a go at paid for Facebook adverts. Will it work? Who knows, but it was worth a try as long as we commit to learning from it.


And that was perhaps my biggest lesson of all.

Try, learn and try again.

That’s pretty much my approach to leadership.

To motherhood.

To life.

Try, learn, try again and… have fun doing it.


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