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Small voluntary organisations’ use of tech in response to Covid crisis explored in report

Melanie May | 1 June 2021 | News

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A report showing how small voluntary organisations are using technology to respond to Covid-19 is published today, from the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) in partnership with CAST.

The report, Response to change: How small voluntary organisations are using tech provides insight into how four small voluntary organisations (SVOs), Integrate, Chilli Studios, RASASC and Saving Lives, responded to change and supported communities during the pandemic by using tech, and what their peers and funders can learn about its role in the sector.

It also aims to support SVOs thinking about what they need to do to embed it within their organisation, whilst also providing starting points for funders to think about for updating their approach to funding digital and tech in the future.


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The three key themes are:

  1. Covid-19 has forced small voluntary organisations to respond to change by using tech.
  2. Everything now includes a digital or tech element – and many SVOs are leading the way.
  3. We know digital is not always inclusive – how can we start to change that?

Through the four case studies, the IVAR and CAST report explores a range of topics – such as blended service
models; responding to user needs and repurposing existing tech – and advises on what the next steps
may be for small voluntary organisations inspired by these examples. There is also a supporting webpage.

Annie Caffyn, Senior Researcher at IVAR and Ellie Hale, Capacity and Communities lead at
CAST, commented:

“We believe these granular insights into how small voluntary organisations have embraced
digital tech over the last 18 months complement broader work on how digital tools and
approaches are used by the sector. We hope this supports both voluntary organisations’
and funders’ thinking about the role of technology – for their own organisations and the
sector as a whole.”

This report is a follow up study from another joint project between IVAR and CAST: Start Somewhere, which is the basis of the Response to Change research.

It will be promoted via the hashtag #ResponseToChange with IVAR and CAST asking small charities to share their stories by tweeting over the next three weeks about how they have used technology during Covid-19.