01 Dec The best #techforgood of 2017.
Around this time last year I wrote a blog about the best tech for good of 2016, and I thought it would be a good idea to do it again for this year because in 2016 it was so much fun looking at all the amazing things the sector had been doing with digital.
That’s what I thought. And it was only when I started writing this year’s blog that I also remembered how difficult it was to narrow down all of the many many fantastic things charities have been doing this year and pick my favourites! Luckily for me, this process, as last year, is not at all scientific. It’s just my opinion!
And, as last year, I first want to say, wow. This sector of ours is totally amazing 🤩. There is so much fantastic work being done! If you think there is something I’ve missed from this list, do let me know in the comments below, I always like hearing about how nonprofits are using digital and tech for good.
And now on with the list – here’s my picks for the best app, digital fundraising, social media, and video of 2017:
Best app of 2017: For Me, Childline
My choice for the best app of 2017 is Childline’s For Me. The app allows young people to keep track of their mood, make a note of thoughts and feelings, find advice on topics like bullying, and, most significantly, it enables them to speak directly with a counsellor via their smartphone. I love this because it’s making use of things people already have, i.e. smartphones, to enable them to access the things they need, i.e. confidential advice and support. And, what’s even better about the app is that it was created by four young people.
There were other great apps this year too, right the way back in January, Oxfam launched their new app ‘My Oxfam’ which aims to give supporters of the organisation more control over their donations. You can increase or decrease the amount you give just by selecting an amount from a sliding scale, you can select an amount to give as a one-off donation, you can keep up to date with how your donation is making a difference, you can update your communication preferences, you can shop online, and you can stay up to date with what Oxfam are doing and how you can help when disaster strikes. The hope was to improve the relationship between supporter and charity, and I think it is great, especially in the context of decreasing trust in charities and calls for more transparency. By creating this app Oxfam have signalled that supporters are a priority for them, they care about the relationship with their donors, and for me that intention warrants a mention in this list.
Best digital fundraising of 2017: Contactless donation boxes, DONATE
This year has seen a ton of discussion on contactless donations. The growth in online shopping and increasing use of contactless technology for payments, people just aren’t carrying cash like they used to. At the beginning of this year, research by Barclaycard found that charities might be missing out on as much as £80 million in donations by only accepting cash, and one in seven people said they had walked away from a donation opportunity at least once in the last year because they couldn’t use their card. Throughout the year charities have done a lot of work in this area, including eleven national charities trailing the use of contactless donation boxes with “overwhelmingly positive” results, Cancer Research UK’s ‘smart benches’, Blue Cross’ increasing use of ‘Tap Dogs’, Stand up to Cancer’s contactless car, and the Church of England trailing the use of contactless collection plates. All leading up to September, when mobile donation charity DONATE announced the launch of contactless donations boxes, which became available in the UK on 23rd October. These boxes get my vote for the best digital fundraising of 2017, because they are a practical solution to a problem, a way for charities to still be able to collect small donations when people are carrying less cash. And for that reason I think they’ll have a big impact, even if a new type of donation box isn’t the most exciting development in fundraising this year!
Before I move on from fundraising though, I do also want to mention two platforms that have created new ways for people to donate to charity. First, Don’t Send Me a Card encourages people to send ecards to their friends and family and give the money they would have spent on printed cards to charity instead. It’s genius! Saving paper and making a donation to charity, whilst still being able to show friends and family that you’re thinking of them during the holidays – what more could you ask for? The second platform I want to mention is For Good Causes which allows people to donate their unused loyalty points to charity. As a holder of many a loyalty card, I think this is a great idea, I love platforms like this that allow individuals to donate to charity without it directly costing them anything, it’s a win-win for everyone! And potentially a big win, since research suggests that there is over £7 billion of unused rewards available in the UK! Unfortunately, it’s not actually available yet, the For Good Causes website says that they will be launching later this year, so for now we’ll just have to keep an eye out for news.
Best social media of 2017: #dogsatpollingstations and ‘Paw-ing stations’, Dog’s Trust
Last year, the #FirstFiver campaign (which encouraged people to donate their first new £5 note to charity) was started by a single tweet and ended up generating an outstanding £12.5m for charities! And this year, social media continued this trend with #PoundForPound (in response to the roll out of the new £1 coin, this campaign encouraged people to donate their old pound coins to charity), #FinalFiver (which encouraged people to donate their old £5 notes to charity as they were about to go out of circulation), and #FirstTenner (which was like #FirstFiver but with the new £10 note). Yes, this year, changes in currency have really created a lot of good social media opportunities for charities. But, my favourite use of social media this year, is slightly more silly.
Anyone who is a true Twitter fan will know that there are some Twitter specific ways of marking important events, like tweeting about #DogsAtPollingStations on election days. Who knows who started it, but somehow, without explicitly talking about it, we’ve all agreed to tweet cute pictures of dogs at polling stations every election day! This year, Dog’s Trust made the most of this trend and linked up with Twitter to encourage polling stations to become ‘paw-ing stations’ (i.e. dog friendly) and share tips on how to take care of your dog while you’re voting. It’s a simple thing, but so effective, since everyone is talking about dogs on election day anyway (obviously, I mean, what else would we be talking about?!). I love #dogsatpollingstations, it’s one of the best bits of elections now, so I think it is really clever for Dogs Trust to use that as an opportunity to remind everyone how to take the best care of their furry friends.
Best video of 2017: Unmute – Ask Him, Movember
In September, Movember launched a series of videos for a new suicide-prevention campaign, like ‘You don’t have to be a fisherman to master this simple survival skill’ which appears to show a man demonstrating how to make a simple fishing line out of an old soft drink can. But, when the sound is turned on, you can hear that actually he is saying that he’s having a rough time and asking for help. Towards the beginning of the video, text appears saying “Sometimes, men can hide how they’re feeling. So un-mute to hear what he’s really saying”, and at the end saying “Now we need you to un-mute again and ask a man if he’s doing alright”. It’s a simple video, which could have been made with very little budget, and that’s what I love about it. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than this, it’s a great video because of its simplicity, the message comes across so clearly. I also really like that it’s built around the idea of unmuting, the videos were predominantly shared on social media where it has become ubiquitous for videos to auto-play without sound. Even a few years ago this wouldn’t have made sense in the way that it does now. They’re short, coming in at less than a minute long, but they get right to the point, and that is why, for me, they are the best videos of 2017.
But I couldn’t talk about great video of 2017, without also mentioning ‘One Day at GOSH’ the campaign from Great Ormand Street Hospital. It is achingly beautiful, sweet and sad in equal measure, you’ll feel so many things watching this video. The whole One Day campaign was great too, as well as posting the whole video online GOSH tweeted on the hour throughout the day for 24 hours, posting images and clips from the video to give a real sense of what is happening when at the Hospital. It really does give an insight into how GOSH works and what’s done there.
So that’s it, those are my picks for the best #techforgood of 2017
As I said at the beginning, this is my list of the best of charity digital this year, but I’d also love to hear from you on this. What do you think of my choices? Are there any you agree or disagree on? Are there examples I’ve missed? Let me know what you think in the comments.
p.s. one more thing…
Last year I named Sea Hero Quest from Alzheimer’s Research UK as the best game of 2016, so I thought it was worth mentioning that this year the game got an upgrade and is now a VR experience. Like the original, on the face of it Sea Hero Quest VR is a game in which you charge about in a boat, collecting treasure and chasing sea creatures, but it’s more than just a game, it’s also crowdsourcing data to help scientists conduct research. In fact, playing Sea Hero Quest for two minutes generates the same amount of data that it would take scientists five hours to collect! It’s been a year, but I still love this game, I strongly recommend checking it out!
David Hobbs, Third Sector (16th March 2017) Children can find counselling through Childline app
Kirsty Weakley, Civil Society (9th January 2017) Oxfam creates app to give supporters more control
Charity Digital News (31st January) Charities miss out on more than £80m a year by only accepting cash donations
Third Sector (21st September 2017) Will contactless be king?
Alice Sharman, Civil Society (29th September 2017) DONATE launches UK charity contactless boxes
Austin Clark, Charity Digital New (13th September 2017) Over 100 UK charities jump on board ecard platform
Austin Clark, Charity Digital News (29th September 2017) Initiative to turn in unused loyalty points into donations turns to crowdfunding
BBC Trending (26th September 2016) First fiver: How a single tweet kick-started a fundraising campaign
Third Sector (30th March) Digital campaign: Charities quick to pick up #poundforpound campaign
Kirsty Weakley, Civil Society (2nd May) How charities are urging people to donate with #FinalFiver
Howard Lake (14th September 2017) #Firsttenner: charities fundraise from new £10 note
David Hobbs, Third Sector (8th June 2017) Dogs Trust makes the most of #dogsatpollingstations
David Hobbs, Third Sector (8th September 2017) Digital Campaign: Movember asks men to ‘unmute’ for new video campaign
David Hobbs, Third Sector (5th April 2017) Digital campaign: One day at GOSH
Digital Agenda (29th August 2017) VR game for good spots dementia