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Digital Fund Weeknotes 16 (25th — 1st March)

A few snippets of related news first.

I’m going to be at TICTec (MySociety’s Civic Tech conference) in Paris later this month, on a panel with Stacy from Luminate and James from Bloomberg Philanthropies, talking about funding. The whole day this year is focussed on “the impact that civic technology and digital democracy are having upon citizens, decision makers and governments around the world.”

The brilliant team at 360Giving have launched a new Insights Platform. It brings 360Giving, Charity Commission and Companies House data together to help give new insights into UK funding.

This week I also did an interview with Kip Wainscott who’s a Fellow in Lucy’s team at the Standford’s Digital Civil Society Lab. I’m on the Advisory Board for their research programme looking at the policy infrastructure of digital civil society. It has international focus that includes the UK — so I’m hoping there will be insights to help the policy agenda here too, especially in gearing up the social sector to be more future-focussed and aware of how technology is changing society.

Lastly, I finally had a long outstanding call with David at the World Economic Forum about the work they launched earlier this year. It explored important questions looking at areas like:

  • How civil society has begun using digital and emerging technologies

The full report can be found here, and I’m looking forward to getting involved as they develop strands of work and further enquiry.

What we are doing

This week we have finished all the calls (well almost,we realised 3 have been rearranged for next week) but still… we are nearly there! I did my last call at 4pm on Thursday and did have a mini celebration whilst in a remote cottage in Wales. I also sent out 7 packages to each member of the team, from an equally remote welsh Post Office, to mark the occasion.

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A medal, some party poppers, a gushing thank you card (not pictured) and some Celebration chocolates!

Although we have finished the calls we still have 76 Call Logs to discuss as a team and make a decision about but by the middle of next week this phase of the Digital Fund will be done and I think we’re all looking forward to feeling a renewed sense of energy for the next phase.

What we are learning

The events I announced last week are all full, apart from the Belfast and Cardiff ones, which are nearly there! All the tickets for the London one went in 1.5 hours and so we’ll definitely put on some second dates. It shows their is such an appetite from the sector to learn about and engage with digital.

Last week was the deadline for proposals from organisations wanting to take on the support contract for the Digital Fund. The support involved is something we are offering to both Strand 1 and Strand 2 applications if they are successfully funded. It’s been interesting to work out how to commission support when a) you don’t yet know what number of applications will need support and b) what kinds of support they will need.

Broadly with Strand 1 we are looking to provide the kind of support we think organisations going through ambitious transition need — so people who can provide coaching, who can hold the hands of trustee boards, who understand organisational redesign and that digital is just a trojan horse for all kinds of other change. A support team who can help with recruiting new types of people and skills, and perhaps help with ending or stopping doing things. And because Strand 1 organisations need to have greater collective awareness of their role in the wider ecosystem, and a commitment to strengthening that, we are also looking for the support team to provide some guidance around that — what I would call Ecosystem Design.

And for Strand 2, because the organisations already have good digital practices at their core, we are looking for the support to be more about business models, legal issues, procurement, selling, partnerships and so forth.

With both Strands we are also keen to ensure organisations are thinking about ethics and responsibility in how they provide and grow their digital services and products. With public money, there definitely comes public responsibility in ensuring we’re thinking not only about the opportunities of tech, but the potential consequences too.

And I’ll be especially keen that the support partner(s) we work with help gather data and stories that document the change narratives being created through our funding, as well as feed into an overarching strategic narrative about the Digital Fund as a whole.

We’ll be announcing the support partner(s) later in March.

What we’re celebrating

This is the 16th Weeknote, which I started a week in to my new job, and a week after the Digital Fund first opened, and it does feel like a huge mark in the sand that 4 months later we’ve got through 1200 applications, 270 phone calls, and can now shift gear for a new phase. Well done Team Digital Fund. And thank you.

It also seemed oddly fitting that I spent yesterday afternoon in Stroud with Tom, who alongside John, set up the Digital Fund and paved the way for it. And who knew Tom was a scone maker and baker!

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View of the house in Wales.

Run UK Portfolio at National Lottery Community Fund, Co-founder of the Point People, Policy Fellow IIPP, Founder Stewarding Loss, International Futures Forum.

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