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10 points I learned about developing ‘Tech for Good’

Howard Lake | 22 October 2014 | Blogs

I attended Nesta’s #techforgood event for UK Fundraising last week, which addressed how to engender digital innovation in charities. First up, here are two points about this blog:

So, here are the 10 key points I learned at the event:

  1. The ceo is often entrepreneurial in spirit, but this spirit is swamped by the length of their own to-do list. It’s therefore key to persuade the rest of the senior team of the importance of the work.
  2. Trustees of charities – particularly larger ones – are often risk averse, they meet infrequently, and yet they have to sign off on tech decisions. This is a bad fit for technological innovation in particular.
  3. The key trick is to get Trustees to a position where they’re comfortable with what is proposed.
  4. Often the senior person within a charity who has sign-off doesn’t really understand the project or what is needed. This can lead to poor commissioning.
  5. If you don’t have someone whose dedicated role is digital work, then there is a chance it will be swept away by ‘normal charity business’. This can lead them to working out of hours on the digital side, which is unsustainable.
  6. In order to impress the powers that be, “show them cool stuff that works” – this is the Trojan horse metaphor: the important thing is that it works not that it is clever.
  7. In order to develop good products we need to iterate – build something small, prototype it, and test it. Then test it again. And again.
  8. We need to collaborate more – in particular sharing what went wrong. Let’s blog about our challenges.
  9. Just digitising what we’re already doing almost always doesn’t work. We need to have someone in the room that understands the true possibilities of technology.
  10. And finally, there was an astonishing number of men in checked shirts in the room. It was only a few moments after noticing this that I realised I was one of them…

Richard Sved runs 3rdSectorMissionControl which works with charities to bring better performance and greater focus to their work, so they can deliver their missions more effectively.


An introduction to AI for charity professionals by Ross Angus