Every ending is also a beginning.
And so it is as the 2018 cohort of Tech for Good projects near their grant ends and a new programme rises up. We expect to see record number of applicants this year. If you want to know more about applying click here.
“Never feel like you can’t change direction”
Most funding programmes don’t look favourably on a project changing focus or direction. Funders will tolerate it to a degree, but only if you can show a solid rationale. This doesn’t encourage grantees to explore whether their approach is the best one or to implement what they learn.
The Tech for Good programme is different. There’s an expectation that you’ll be pursuing a problem, trialling solutions and learning how best to meet user needs. This can mean changing direction a little, or a lot.
In the startup world changing direction is called ‘pivoting’. Though charities aren’t startups the programme encourages them to think like one and to use what they learn to pivot. So far, 60% of the projects we’ve talked to pivoted moderately or significantly.
“The support is amazing”
Many funding programmes use light-touch monitoring. So does the Tech for Good programme. But it also comes with a large dose of support and mentoring, provided by CAST. This year’s projects found the following helpful:
- Conversations with experts: to talk through challenges and get support with problems e.g. when one grantee needed a day’s access to a data structure expert they had quick, accurate support to find one
- Access to online tools: Fusebox, CAST’s online tracking and support application was useful.
- Meetups: to meet their programme peers, share support and hear their stories. Nihara Krause from Stem4 explained how helpful it was hearing how one project had put right a problem with their tech partner.
“I haven’t seen any fund as flexible, that has from the beginning said ‘the concept you put forward now needn’t necessarily be the one that comes out at grant end’. There aren’t many open to that outcome.”
“There’s extra budget for unexpected needs”
In such a discovery led project, where direction can change, it’s difficult to know what resources you’ll need later on. So the programme offers a small extra pot for projects to use during their mid to end-stages. This time round that money got spent on business case development, specialist e-learning modules for volunteers, specialist data structure support and a range of other sustainability and troubleshooting needs.
The Tech for Good programme is open for applications until March 25th. Read more.