Tech for Good, the Playstation problem, and leading with value

Authors: Shape History
  • Reading time: 5 min.
  • Posted on: January 19, 2021

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the troubling, and the ones to watch in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re looking at new funding opportunities for good causes, consumerism dominating the news cycle, and the case for pragmatic campaigning.

| NAILED IT: A new £1 million fund for charities’ digital development

To help not-for-profit organisations explore new approaches to their work, Comic Relief and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation have unveiled a brand new round of funding as part of their joint Tech for Good initiative. 

Dubbed ‘Build’, the programme aims to provide long-term support for up to 18 different digital projects based in the UK, from the national level all the way down to local initiatives, by helping them define, test and develop better ways to provide their services with technology.

While the application criteria are relatively open, the project must focus on at least one of Comic Relief’s four core issues to qualify: Children Survive and Thrive, Global Mental Health Matters, Fighting for Gender Justice, or A Safe Place to Be.

Having the right tools for the job has never been more important for charities than now. In the modern world, technology is vital to organisations like these adapting to match the requirements of their mission, and programmes like these can play a huge role in making sure it’s there.

To see a full breakdown (and apply), read the official Tech for Good briefing here.

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Choosing products over people

Now for a rather sobering statistic. According to a new report by Care International, the launch of Sony’s Playstation 5 received more news coverage than ‘10 humanitarian crises combined’ last year.

In a year where global events like the coronavirus pandemic, BLM and a bitterly divisive US election have dominated the headlines, many humanitarian stories are being left to vie for attention against  click-friendly, commercial stories — and they’re losing out all too often, with issues like famine and drought in Madagascar and Zambia, violence in Burundi and climate concerns in Malawi going massively underreported.

The problem means more than just a lack of public attention. With an estimated 235 million people expected to need humanitarian aid in 2021 — particularly among women and children — the lack of spotlight on crises like these often means they don’t secure the funding for the aid they need. 

Care urges governments to give journalists better access so they can report on those “forgotten crisis” stories, and is calling on the media to work closer with smaller, local organisations to amplify the voices in need — especially those of women and girls. 

While it can be easy to get distracted in the face of the unpleasantness that was 2020, we all have an obligation to keep people and humanitarianism at the heart of our outlook. Our media needs to do better.

| ONE TO WATCH: How to change the conversation

In the era of Brexit and a relatively hard-line Tory government, immigration campaigners are faced with a difficult question: How do you win support in the middle ground?

In an article for Free Movement, head of IMIX Emma Harrison argues that it might be a question of flipping the conversation around and taking a more pragmatic view.

That might even mean leaning into the government’s own messages. Instead of focusing only on hot-button issues like stopping deportations, we could be spending more time discussing the value and importance of citizenship, reframing the UK into an ideal for immigration as a point of genuine national pride once more — messages that might resonate better with disillusioned central voters.

As Harrison notes, we’ve already seen from organisations like Mind how a focus on collaboration, partnership and creating spaces where change can happen non-confrontationally can be effective at engaging people who might not share our agenda, and getting their message into the national consciousness.

Ultimately, creating real change means attacking the subject from a number of different angles, not only acting in defiance. What more could we achieve if we thought pragmatically about reaching our goals?