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Tech for good’s Cast awarded £1m to give charities digital aid

The Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (Cast) has been awarded £1.12m by the Big Lottery Fund to help charities build digital solutions

The Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (Cast), the tech for good organisation, has been awarded £1.12m by the Big Lottery Fund to help build digital solutions for charities.

Cast received the funding to help charities across the UK grow their services using digital technologies such as mobile applications and digital payment services.

Dan Sutch, co-founder and director of Cast, explained that not-for-profits often lack the funding, tools or skills to utilise digital technologies, and so get left behind.

He said: “The digital revolution isn’t about apps and websites; it’s about a fundamental change in the way we find information, people and support. At the heart of great digital development is a shift to user-led, test-driven design, working closely with people and their communities to create effective and empowering services.”

Digital dozen

Cast will use its funding to create an accelerator programme to help 12 charities build digital services over the next three years.

Applications for the digital accelerator will open in late 2016, and the first two charities will begin their sprint in 2017.

Cast will be providing a team of designers, developers and business experts to help them develop bespoke solutions.

The funding will also be used to design and produce a number of documents, templates and learning tools, accessible on and offline, to help charities create digital products and share their experiences.

Credited to Cast

Using similar business models to technology startups and digital agencies, Cast has already developed a number of digital products for charities. They include Becca (an app to support breast cancer patients), QuidsIn (a digital payments plugin that puts a small percentage of cash into savings each time a user makes a purchase) and Centrebot (a chatbot that collects data about young homeless people through Facebook and advises them about safe places to stay).

Over the past year Cast has run Fuse, a programme funded by Comic Relief that aims to incorporate lean and agile processes in a framework that will help charities innovate and run user-centric digital projects.

Many charities fall behind in implementing digital technology, usually because of lack of funding. Many also miss out on investment funding because there is a lack of confidence that charities will grow and scale, or a lack of trust that they will remain not-for-profit organisations.

In an increasingly digital environment, with consumers of all types expecting all organisations to have at least a responsive website, as well as the ability to donate online and interact with brands on social media, charities can suffer if they lack a digital footprint.

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In some cases tech companies have volunteered their expertise to give charities the skills or the tech they need to create digital solutions and stay in line with the growing mobile and online expectations of the public.

Read more on IT for charity organisations