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NetHope’'s Center for the Digital Nonprofit Releases Digital Nonprofit Skills White Paper

NetHope's Center for the Digital Nonprofit released The Digital Nonprofit Skills (DNS) Assessment white paper today.

NetHope Communications Team

NetHope’'s Center for the Digital Nonprofit released The Digital Nonprofit Skills (DNS) Assessment white paper today, revealing opportunities and challenges for the NGO sector as it navigates and endeavors to innovate in a rapidly changing digital environment.

Respondent organizations and individuals indicated they are more than halfway to being skilled and 80 percent of respondent organizations agreed they share ideas and information with others to help solve complex problems. In addition to the expected need for technical skills development, the survey revealed needs in three key areas:

  • to protect beneficiaries in a digital world against the risks, biases, and limitations of data and digital tools, which is a part of their digital responsibility (only 31 percent of organizations agreed or strongly agreed they had these skills);
  • to nurture highly adaptive and collaborative teams that feel empowered to change direction quickly as new digital possibilities become available (less than half of organizations feel empowered to adapt or adopt new approaches); and
  • to foster a culture of entrepreneurial spirit, one that accepts higher levels of risk-tolerance and potential failure (only 33 percent of organizations agree it’s OK to fail when trying something big.)

Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope, announced the release during her keynote at the NetHope Global Summit 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. NetHope is a consortium of nearly 60 leading global nonprofits that deliver over 60 percent of all annual, international, non-governmental aid.

“The journey toward digital transformation starts with people changing the way they work made possible by technology, which is why The Center has three areas of focus – people, process, and technology. The DNS Assessment represents an exciting milestone in the people category and clearly demonstrates that for digital transformation to truly happen, we need to start a revolution of LEARNING within the nonprofit sector,” explained Woodman. “For the first time, we have an industry standard for digital skills across the global nonprofit sector, and we have insights into the opportunities and challenges of transforming the nonprofit sector. This has implications for how the sector advances and how we can engage our already committed technology and funding partners, and new ones to improve the world we share.”

Digital Nonprofit Skills Assessment Sponsors

The Digital Nonprofit Skills Assessment survey was designed and fielded in collaboration with Humentum and sponsored by #Impact Cloud members, including:, DocuSign, IMPACT Foundation, Okta, Oracle NetSuite,, Splunk, Tableau Foundation,, and Workplace by Facebook.

#ImpactCloud is a coalition of impact-oriented technology companies working together to help accelerate digital transformation and impact for humanitarian and disaster relief organizations. This DNS research represents a great mechanism to enable our companies to collaborate and bring more of our expertise to the humanitarian sector,“ said Bryan Breckenridge, Executive Director of, on behalf of #ImpactCloud.

Background on the DNS Assessment

The Digital Nonprofit Skills (DNS) assessment is a tool to assist organizations to:

  • determine their portfolio of digital skills;
  • measure performance against sector benchmarks; and
  • provide insights on relative strengths and weaknesses across six categories: Technical Literacy, Highly Adaptive Collaboration, Complex Problem Solving, Digital Responsibility, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Creativity & Innovation. (These follow the structure of NetHope’'s Digital Skills Framework.)

The DNS Assessment responded to findings from a previous white paper released by The Center for the Digital Nonprofit in April 2018, The Digital Nonprofit Ability (DNA) Assessment, which measured the general readiness of NGOs for digital transformation. This assessment identified that the people and process categories were, on average, hindering NGO digital transformation.

To provide a broad assessment of skills, both across the sector and within organizations, the DNS survey was taken by over 300 people from 49 nonprofits (37 of which are NetHope members) representing $20.6 billion of annual aid, covering seven job functions and six categories of humanitarian organizations, and representing every geographical region of the world except Australia.

Respondents answered 18 questions in six categories which represent the structure of NetHope’'s Digital Skills Framework that is based upon research into technology trends, existing frameworks, and digital skills needed for success. Respondents answered each question twice: once on behalf of their organization according to their beliefs about the organization as a whole (the organization score), and a second time answering strictly on their own behalf as they would rate themselves (the individual score).

About NetHope and The Center for the Digital Nonprofit

NetHope empowers committed organizations to change the world through the power of technology. NetHope, a consortium of nearly 60 leading global nonprofits, unites with technology companies and funding partners to design, fund, implement, adapt, and scale innovative approaches to solve development, humanitarian, and conservation challenges. Together, the NetHope community strives to transform the world, building a platform of hope for those who receive aid and those who deliver it.

In fall 2017, NetHope launched The Center for the Digital Nonprofit, an initiative that pulls the future forward so that international nonprofits can “Do good better.” Through innovation and collaboration, The Center brings together the expertise of the technology sector with the on-the-ground experience of global nonprofits to create a network for committed, forward-looking organizations to improve the world we share. By providing the guidance, resources and tools, and grantmaking needed for digital transformation, The Center helps nonprofits achieve the promise of tomorrow today.

NetHope’s Center for the Digital Nonprofit is supported by its committed founding partners: Microsoft, Okta, Blackbaud, Box, NetSuite, and Avanade. They play a strategic and practical role in the activities of The Center, investing money, products, and expertise to address some of the world’s toughest humanitarian, development, and conservation challenges.

NetHope Members

Accion, ActionAid, Americares, Ashoka, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, ChildFund International, Children International, Christian Aid, Compassion International, Concern Worldwide, DanChurchAid, Danish Refugee Council, Direct Relief, FHI360, Global Communities, GOAL, Grameen Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International, HIAS, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Management Sciences for Health, Marie Stopes International, Medair, Médecins Sans Frontières, Medical Teams International, Mennonite Central Committee, Mercy Corps, Mercy Ships, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Pact, PATH, Plan International, Pro Mujer, Relief International, Samaritan’s Purse, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages International, Team Rubicon Global, The Carter Center, The Nature Conservancy, Trócaire, VSO, WaterAid, Welthungerhilfe, Wildlife Conservation Society, Winrock International, Women for Women International, World Vision, WWF International

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