Social-good technology initiative begins

Social design charity Shift was commissioned to find ways of improving the grant-funding landscape for developing social technology

A new initiative has begun to help charities and funders develop technology that is used specifically for social good.

It comes after research highlighted the difficulties many not-for-profits encounter when they seek funding to develop new social technology products, such as apps designed specifically for social purposes.

The social design charity Shift was commissioned by various funders, including the Big Lottery Fund, to find ways of creating a better grant-funding landscape for developing social technology.

Shift spoke to more than 100 not-for-profits, grant-makers and investors and found there was a "wilderness period" between a partly proven prototype and an established product that funders were reluctant to support.

"While there are a number of opportunities to access early stage social innovation funding – to come up with an initial idea and develop and test it – it is far more challenging to access the level and type of funding needed to move through the middle stages of development," says the report, which is called Driving Continuous Improvement.

The report's other insights include:

- Funders do not collaborate enough to support ongoing cycles of design through many stages.

- Most organisations lack the skills for developing products.

- The grant-making process is inefficient for the design and development phases of new products.

- Traditional funding partnerships are ill-suited to developing social products.

The report introduces a new model, called Progressively, which provides a framework for not-for-profits and funders that want to develop social technology.

Naomi Stoll, research manager at Shift, said Progressively offered organisations key markers they could use as milestones en route to developing better social tech products.

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