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Martha Lane Fox: Charities should put technology at the heart of their work

Third Sector Online, 16 February 2011

Martha Lane Fox

Martha Lane Fox

The UK's 'digital champion' believes the third sector needs to be making smarter use of IT

Today’s radically changed funding environment means it has never been more urgent for charities to put technology at the heart of their organisations. 

Smart use of technology can help you make the most of your time and your people, fundraise better, communicate your impact more powerfully and to more people, and operate and deliver services more effectively, accessibly and cheaply. All of which will ultimately help you help more people.

Many UK charities and funders are already reaping the rewards of ‘thinking internet first’. Today, with the help of our partners, such as New Philanthropy Capital, the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, we’re publishing this casebook to showcase a few of the best examples.

Some, like Comic Relief, have made big investments in this area. Others, like the relatively small charity Street League, have exploited low or no-cost tools and/or pro-bono advice agencies such as CTT and iT4Communities to dramatic effect. Street League saves £50,000 a year through online tools - £15,000 of which comes from making digital its default publishing channel.

We founded the Race Online 2012 programme from a profound conviction that technology unlocks opportunities for society’s most vulnerable groups - four million of whom have never used the internet.

It offers people who’ve had bad experiences of education a route back into learning, it increases work-readiness among the unemployed, it can chip away at the chronic levels of loneliness experienced by our older population, and must now run through how we unlock society’s most pressing social problems, from health outcomes to social isolation.

Worrying about technology might seem like a distraction in the current environment. But we have a real opportunity right now to leverage technology for social good - charities must now modernise to survive and to help us seize this chance to build a truly networked nation here in the UK.

Please read these charities’ stories, contact the agencies listed for advice tailored to your organisation, or get in touch to share your story of how technology is helping your organisation do more. To find out more about our campaign, to sign up and to access the cheap technology offers we are developing with our partners, please go to Race Online 2012.  

Read the case studies

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