COVID-19 digital checklist for charity trustees and leaders

The coronavirus crisis has created a huge challenge for the sector. We’ve created this checklist to help charity boards and leaders with the decisions they need to make about digital during the crisis.

During the Coronavirus crisis, many charities will be grappling with loss of income, closure of face to face services and staff absence, whilst simultaneously accelerating remote working, digital service delivery, and digital fundraising. 

We know that this is an exceptionally difficult period for the sector and its leaders. Yet it may also be a chance to think differently about what your charity does and how it delivers its mission. Digital is more than a channel. Leveraging its potential could position your charity for the opportunities that arise in the future once the crisis ends. 

We’ve created this checklist to help charity boards and leaders with the decisions they need to make about digital during the crisis, and to get them thinking about what they’d like their charities to achieve during this time. 

This list is a starting point to get charity trustees and leaders thinking, and is not exhaustive. We will be adding to it as we gain more user insights about how charities are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. 

How to use the checklist

The checklist aims to help charity trustees and leaders do the following during the crisis:

  • Make the right decisions about digital 
  • Review view digital progress made so far 
  • Create a shared understanding of your charity’s digital goals 

As charities increase their use of digital there is a lot to think through. This can be made manageable by:

  • Choosing only the most relevant topics  from the checklist - you don’t have to use the whole resource. Pick one topic that’s most important to your charity right now and discuss at your next board meeting 
  • The executive team, or a working group, could review progress against the checklist and report this to the board

You can either read the checklist below, or download it as a PDF.

If you’re new to digital see NCVO’s introductory guide.

D'Arcy Myers, Chair of Trustees for the Association of Charitable Organisations, one of the early testers of the checklist says: 

Many charity trustees are put off by the word 'digital' and it is often tempting to leave decisions about digital activity to other board members if you don't feel confident about your own knowledge and skills. To govern successfully we need collective decision making at Board level and this applies to digital strategy too. The great thing about this new checklist is that it's accessible to everyone. It is a tool which can bring an understanding of digital to the entire Board, giving them everything they need to understand what they should be aiming to achieve and how to go about it.”

Get started with the checklist

Further reading

For more COVID-19 digital resources for charities take a look at the Catalyst site. 

For further guidance on digital best practice see the principles and resources in The Charity Digital Code of Practice

For guidance on running your charity during the Coronavirus crisis see The Charity Commission’s guidance.

Where the checklist comes from

We’ve based it on the charity user needs identified by The Catalyst’s COVID-19 digital research.

This checklist draws on best practice in The Charity Digital Code of Practice and was inspired by Making Digital Work, the Charity Commission’s digital guidance for trustees. 

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    Gillian Murray_2019

    "I took the 7 principles onto the next board meeting. Then I set up a digital working group- me, 2 staff members, 2 board members and an external stakeholder. We met up several times to look at what we can do about it. We landed on 3 buckets: strategy, data and culture. We also looked at how we could promote it to members. We also got our trustees on WhatsApp! . "

    Gillian Murray, CEO, Pilotlight and Code Champion

    The Code in 7 Weeks

    If you want to help your charity use digital to increase its impact, persuade your leadership team to support digital or understand how your charity can follow best practice, why not sign up to a weekly e-mail for the next 7 weeks to help you get started with the Code?


    “Like any organisation, charities can learn a lot about what they do, who they serve and the impact they have, by drawing on their data."


    Giselle Cory

    Executive Director, DataKind UK and Code Champion

    “It’s no longer good enough as a Chief Executive to say:
    ‘I don’t do digital’.”


    James Blake

    CEO, YHA (England and Wales) and Code Champion