Helping nonprofit CEOs and senior leaders understand digital

We're helping leaders use digital and design to improve organisational strategy and governance

What is The Digital Fellowship?

(This programme is now closed.)

Our Digital Fellowship is a comprehensive learning programme for nonprofit leaders. We help senior staff develop a better understanding and use of tech and digital innovation, supporting them to become leaders of their organisation’s – and the sector’s – digital development.

“Without effective knowledge in the sector, the cost of consultants is prohibitive and digital fear is a real barrier so we tend to shy away from exploring digital options. CAST has given me the framework and ability to understand - the confidence to know what can be done and just as importantly what cannot be done. “The techniques we are given make me feel able to engage in the digital agenda in a way we couldn’t do before. I would recommend forward thinking charities to get on board with the digital agenda and can think of no better organisation that CAST to be their guide.”

So far, 21 charities have been through our Digital Fellowship. Here's the latest cohort:

How does it work?

Fellows attend eight half-day action learning workshops led by digital domain experts. They learn methodologies and tools that can be applied immediately in an organisation to improve service delivery, reduce costs and free up staff time.

The Fellowship culminates in an in-house design workshop and sprint, which we run with social-impact coding academy, Founders & Coders. This helps Fellows build their teams’ digital capacity, putting learnings directly into practise on a tangible digital project.

What you’ll be doing

The Digital Fellowship is split into three main components:

Core learning programme

For leaders (+1 day of trustee attendance)
Key activities
  • Eight expert-led sessions in inspiring tech for good spaces, including:
  • Introduction to digital trends
  • Strategies for leading organisational change
  • Lean and agile methodologies
  • Uses and correct handling of data
  • Designing user-centred digital services
  • Digital business models
  • Working with tech talent
  • Evaluation and scaling.
Main outputs
  • Strategy, leadership and governance support
  • A good grasp of the processes of digital innovation and design
  • Strong network of other nonprofit leaders
  • Connections to key organisations in the tech for good community.

Design workshop

For product owners identified at the design workshop
Key activities
  • Fellows receive pre-workshop training in how to carry out effective user research
  • CAST and Founders & Coders lead a one-day workshop, held in the nonprofit’s offices
  • Fellows are supported to share their learnings with colleagues
  • Together the team identifies and unpacks a beneficiary or organisational need that might be supported with tech.
Main outputs
  • Creative innovation exercises from the digital design process
  • Engagement and buy-in from team
  • Knowledge of tools and techniques for user-led, test-driven development
  • Understanding of roles required in a ‘design sprint’
  • Set of requirements for Founders & Coders’ development team to build a digital proof of concept.

Design sprint

For product owners identified at the design workshop
Key activities
  • Product owners turn requirements into a set of features
  • They manage a team of developers over a five-day ‘sprint’
  • Development team creates proof of concept
  • Roadmap, testing and integration session for Fellows.
Main outputs
  • Training in product ownership
  • Training in GitHub code repository used by programmers
  • Experience designing and building a new digital product or service
  • Practice working with a development team on short sprints of work, following an agile methodology
  • Direct access to tech experts and supporters
  • Fellows gain increased reputation as a sector digital leader.

Fellows have the option to then continue with a follow-on digital project tailored to their organisation, which is designed to encourage more immediate in-depth application of the learnings. This is flexible to suit the needs of each Fellow: it could be a technical build sprint, a design deep-dive or a piece of tailored digital strategy work.

All Fellows enjoy ongoing support and recognition as part of our alumni community once the programme has ended.

Fellows' stories


MAC-UK is an award-winning mental health charity working with and alongside young people to help them overcome the health, social and economic inequalities they face. As a team of just 25 with limited resource, they needed to make careful decisions about how best to share their tried-and-tested, psychologically informed approach with others to scale their impact. But this often led to paralysis when digital technology was involved. The Fellowship helped them be braver about testing digital assumptions, ideas and tools, and seeing digital as part of the overall plan for enabling their strategy. “Having less of the 'everything has to be perfect' mentality and being specific about what we know, what we think we know and what we don't know has taken the fear out of thinking about what's possible. We’re now more confident in talking about ourselves as an agile and digitally-principled charity.” - Sinem Cakir, CEO and Digital Fellow.

Lancashire Women's Centres

Lancashire Women's Centres supports over 4,000 women and their families each year across Lancashire to achieve their potential. The charity was keen to use digital to innovate and continually improve its services but didn’t know where to start. Staff felt a real confidence barrier as they were not ‘experts’ in digital, and were wary of committing time and resources to new things. The Fellowship helped them realise how digital tools and approaches could underpin all their work, and that strategic use of digital encompasses much more than ‘shiny new websites’. “Had I not done the programme, I’d have written a separate digital strategy, and not seen it as something embedded across everything we do from services and marketing to fundraising and recruitment. Now I understand that digital permeates everything.” - Liz Islam, Business Development Manager and Digital Fellow.

Listen to our 2016 Fellows' thoughts on the programme

Interested in the Digital Fellowship?

We are hoping to run another Digital Fellowship cohort again soon, and we’ll announce the details through our newsletter.