My daughter’s got a new kitten. It’s the cutest ever.
It’s still only a bairn. Too small to go outside, but old enough to run around and tear up the house.
Everytime the back door opens it sprints to the doorstep.
It can smell the garden. It knows it’s different and its interested in the outdoor world’s possibilities.
But when it get to the doorstep it pauses, looks around for my daughter, then runs back inside.
It runs back into the known and familiar.
Stepping back from the unknown is normal
Now I don’t know if this is normal behaviour for a kitten but I know from experience that it’s normal behaviour for a traditional funder faced with the exciting, but daunting, possibilities of funding tech for good.
Let me explain.
You, the funder, are the kitten. Inside is your safe world of familiar grant making, confident strategies and conventional funding programmes.
Outside, beyond the doorstep, is the new world of tech for good grant making (or digital innovation if you want to use more funder familiar language). Its full of potential like a spring morning. You can smell it. And you hear its call because as a funder you do believe in innovation and risk. Only this feels like a bigger, riskier unknown than you’re used to.
But the doorstep is filling up
That back doorstep is getting ever more crowded. It’s getting busier because:
Outside you can see the new kittens on the block, making digital innovation grants to charities and social enterprise startups. These are kits like Nesta, Nominet Trust, and Comic Relief.
These kits are calling you. You may be the older, less adventurous members of the litter, and these kits may not look like your other traditional bro’s and sisters. But they have more in common with you than other tech funders, and they have lots to share.
Behind you in the living room you can see some of the older trusts curled up on the sofa. They steer clear of innovation and aren’t interested in the new world outside.
We need some funders to take risks and others to stay indoors
It’s ok that they stay on the sofa. Because there’s plenty of charities that need their funding. Charities that provide conventional, reliable risk-free services to folk. That’s sensible. The sector needs a mix of different funding programmes.
But in between, on the threshold and queuing up in the porch behind you are other traditional trusts who know they need to venture outside. Like you they are curious. But they don’t yet feel safe enough to make the jump, to answer the Tech for Good call and start funding tech projects.
What’ll help you step into the unknown?
What’ll it take to help you make that first tech for good funding step?
A bit more confidence in what you’re doing?
A way to take baby kit steps without reworking your grant making approach?
Spending time with other funder kits who are managing the risks and doing it?
A hand to hold as your paws get wet on the dewy lawn?
Either way, tech for good is growing and it needs you. It needs more tech grants making to charities and social enterprises.
My daughter’s kitten has her to help
Fortunately my daughter’s kitten has her to hold its paw. She can look after him as he steps out for the first time. If you’re a funder who’s holding your hand?
Sign up here if you’d like to be part of Tech for Good 2018’s funder support work.