Five charities in the pandemic using tech for good
Too often in the media, charities can be painted as rigid, traditional organisations who don’t always adopt new, innovative practices. Ourselves and many others who work with charities to use technology for good, however, see a different story.
COVID-19 has stolen control from the hands of charities in the ways they fundraise, communicate, engage, and most importantly, support their service users. And now, how charities have reacted over the past two months – and continue to do so into the future – is key to their survival.
During such a difficult time, it’s important we think differently.
Charities that have their finger on the pulse and know how to respond to what their communities are looking for during this time are paving the way for positive change.
Some charities that have stood out over the past few months are those who recognised a need to change. They moved quickly, recognised what’s still within their power, and have proven themselves to be flexible and agile. Here are five amazing examples of charities using tech for good…
Marie Stopes is a UK charity that provides NHS-funded abortion and vasectomy care across the UK.
To ensure their essential service can continue, they’ve had to rapidly adapt, offering telephone consultations and providing termination pills for collection or through the post.
Before the pandemic, posting of termination pills would have been illegal. But the government has temporarily relaxed the laws to ensure women still have the freedom of choice and do not have to put themselves at risk of catching coronavirus to terminate an unintended pregnancy.
With such heavy restrictions on their normal operations, Marie Stopes has moved quickly to keep providing the care and support they’ve prided themselves on for the past forty years.
They’re now investigating other ways to make their service more accessible and approachable. This includes embracing digital more within key points of the user journey. For example, they’re looking at how their clients can get in touch without having to speak over the phone, since at the moment people may be confined to their house and not want partners or family members to overhear them.
When the news about schools closing hit the public, we could all sense the furrowed brows of parents wondering how much screen time rules could be bent or how long little Sophia could realistically be entertained by that cardboard box.
Luckily, Scouts heard the news and took action. They wanted to help parents and carers across the UK inspire and excite their children, all within the confines of The Great Indoors, which also happens to be the name of their COVID-inspired campaign. They’re arming parents with over one hundred activities to try at home while isolating themselves.
Something we’ve suggested in the Digital Fundraising in a Hurry handbook, is, if relevant to the work you do, create a COVID-campaign. The Scouts’ Great Indoors campaign is a wonderful way of continuing to engage with your audience even if you can’t deliver the normal face-to-face activities you would like.
Based on the feedback from parents in our team, these suggestions have been a lifesaver. Thanks, Scouts!
Marie Curie provides vital care and support to those suffering from terminal illnesses. To secure the essential funding they need to ensure Marie Curie nurses and frontline staff can continue to provide end-of-life care to those in need, they released a powerful TV and radio advert.
They tap into the collective consciousness of the nation, highlighting what we’re all thinking about and missing most. This is followed by an urgent call and reminder that despite all we’ve had to put on hold, people are still dying and we still need to help them.
Instead of sticking to their usual messaging style, they’ve incorporated everything that’s happening right now to reach a wider audience, achieve a greater impact, and elicit a more emotional response from their viewers. This advert provides an important dose of perspective for a lot of us. While we might miss the Premier League or feel annoyed we’re not sunning ourselves in Spain there are still greater losses at play and Marie Curie have played a key role in reminding us of that.
Being cooped up at home can be difficult at any age. But Young Minds is using tech for good, putting together extensive online resources and research to keep supporting younger people who might be struggling during this time.
On their website and blog, there’s a ton of valuable information, insight, and advice to help normalise discussions of mental health. Young Minds provides helpful tips on navigating such a tough time and offer support for parents who might struggle to understand their children’s headspace.
They’ve taken into account everything that’s going on to produce valuable information that discusses issues specific to COVID-19, like increased anxiety, navigating eating disorders in lockdown, or the benefits of mindfulness on our mental health.
It’s a free resource that helps protect the mental health of parents who are juggling working from home, childcare, and a new ‘teacher’ role. There are two branches of guidance: ‘help with difficult behaviour’ and ‘help with negative emotions’.
As well as written advice, each tip has a corresponding animated video. It’s another example of harnessing the power of digital to provide value with refreshing and engaging ways of communicating what are otherwise considered tough topics.
And the rest!
This is just a selection of the charities who are adapting to the current situation we find ourselves in, providing value in the most unexpected of circumstances. But there are a few more we at least want to give an honourable mention.
Whether it’s Age UK putting together a page of COVID-19 related advice and resources or Liberty providing human rights and criminal justice advice around coronavirus, we’re impressed at how fast this relevant content has been popping up online. And finally, there’s Cronkshaw Farm, who are getting creative and making the most of the lockdown by offering goats as a guest for your next Zoom call. Whilst this started as a bit of a joke, it (obviously) took off! Now the farm is using the money they raise through the £5 Zoom goats to invest in sustainable equipment that’s better for the environment. Amazing work!
Being keen to adapt and grow with the times will benefit your teams and skill sets long-term, throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond into whatever the future might look like.
Listening to the needs of your communities, moving quickly, and using tech for good is a positive thing, pandemic or no pandemic.