Comic Relief has always believed in funding projects that deliver the best services to people in need. In the past few years, we have started to actively support those developing digital products and services to do this.
Technology plays an increasingly important role in modern life and we feel that the charity sector has only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to leveraging the power of digital products to deliver change.
The challenge many organisations face is the capacity to "think digitally" and into the future at a time of increasing demand on their services and reduced resources. In response to this changing environment for the sector, coupled with the developments in digital innovation over recent years, we have set up focused 'Tech for Good' initiatives to provide funding and support from digital experts.
Whilst Comic Relief has always funded not-for-profit digital initiatives, this specific funding programme allows us to really unleash the potential that digital technology has to drive positive change and help us achieve our vision of 'a just world free from poverty' in which everyone is safe, healthy, educated and empowered.
We held our first specific UK Tech for Good grants programme in 2015, offering funding and support that also linked projects up with external digital experts and industry leaders. All projects involved delivered great results, including Wayfindr (a practical method backed up by a fixed standard that helps visually impaired people to move around difficult areas such as tube and train stations) and an initiative by National Ugly Mugs (the National Network of Sex Work Projects) who developed and rolled out their personal safety app where sex workers can leave details on dangerous individuals to avoid physical harm and sexual assault. Both are great examples of how charities can make use of mobile technologies in new ways to help empower people to access services and facilities.
Since then, we have grown a rich tapestry of Tech for Good projects. Another great example is with SafeLives. Alongside Microsoft, we are helping to fund the creation of a new social platform for professionals working in the areas of domestic violence and abuse to facilitate better communications, which will in turn ultimately help improve the care and support given to those affected by domestic violence.
While we have lots going on in the UK - we also fund some significant international Tech for Good projects too. From tech hubs to apps for educational use, it's clear to see funding digital innovation is incredibly important in helping charities to best deliver the services people need.
So where next?
The continued success and proven impact of these initiatives has ensured that 'Tech for Good' will continue to be central to the new Comic Relief grant-making strategy which launched on 19th May 2016. The new strategy has been developed to allow us to respond to an ever-changing world in which we have seen a range of developments. These are not only incredible life-saving and changing digital innovations that we see with Tech for Good, but changes including extreme surges in mass movement of people, the introduction of the universal Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the reality faced by charities in the UK which are having to meet greater and increasingly complex need, often with declining resources.
Our revised grants strategy will enable us to respond faster to the complex world we live in and maximize the impact we make here in the UK and overseas. The strategy puts people at the heart of our grant-making approach, working in greater partnership with the organisations we fund on the ground to co-create solutions.
Funding programmes that support Tech for Good will play a central role in helping us ensure we achieve the greatest possible impact around the world. We have already seen the impact technology has had on modern life and how harnessing this influence can really deliver 'tech for good'. As these developments continue to evolve, we're excited to see where Tech for Good will take us over the next few years and see its life-changing potential help disadvantaged people here in the UK and around the world.
For more information, visit www.comicrelief.com
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