In a world where the vast abyss of the internet and rapidly developing technology can so easily do more harm than good, and where people are becoming increasingly aware of the perils of social media, it is ever more important to realise what an incredible force for good technology can be. Below CEO Today gets the lowdown from Ed Cox, co-founder of Reason Digital, on using technology for philanthropic ventures.
Despite the above, those most in need of technological advancements are often those who have the least access to it. Charities and third-sector organisations endure a constant funding struggle, and although private companies make a huge contribution to these businesses, enhancing their technological or digital presence is often overlooked. So, should those of us with the skills in this area not regard it as a priority to – where possible – help those in need? Utilising innovative new technology and the abilities of talented web and app developers, user experience designers and animators are some of the ways businesses can put technology at the forefront of philanthropy and help charities create a force for change in such a fast-moving world.
There’s no doubt that technology can offer a solution to many problems, whilst improving people’s lives in the process. In 2018, we can safely say there is a website or an app for almost everything. Smartphones can identify songs from the radio, virtual reality can enable remarkable experiences without leaving the comfort of your own home, while sleep patterns and personal health can be monitored using apps and wearable devices. According to Statista, there were 197 billion app downloads last year, expected to rise to a colossal 352 billion by 2021. So why not exploit technology for all it’s worth, and use it to address problems that are bigger than our own?
Gone for Good is an app that does just that, pioneering a new method of donating goods to charity shops all over the UK. With huge sites such as eBay allowing people to easily sell their unwanted goods, it is increasingly important for charities to keep pace with technological advancements in order to compete and encourage people to donate, rather than sell. The app allows users to upload any item they want to dispose of and select a charity. If the charity is able to accept the donation, it will be collected from the donator’s home. This not only benefits the charity by making the process of donating large items more convenient, but also helps the environment by stopping non-biodegradable items going to landfill.
For businesses looking to further develop their corporate social responsibility (CSR), utilising technology is a relatively simple way of having a tangible and long-term positive impact on a designated charity. Since apps and well-optimised websites facilitate information sharing and encourage both volunteering and donations, the impact of having one of these can be much greater than receiving a single financial offering. But using tech for good isn’t necessarily synonymous with heavy investment for private businesses, it is about assessing your own skillset or business contacts and considering what you can realistically offer. This results in a more meaningful philanthropic approach with a more sustainable outcome.
Taking this attitude beyond the realm of apps, wildlife conservation charity the Lindbergh Foundation is working with evolving drone technology to allow them to utilise night vision equipment for identifying poachers and, subsequently, mobilising rangers to apprehend them. This is undoubtedly a ground-breaking and innovative solution to one of conservation’s most important and pressing issues. It is a perfect demonstration of how such fascinating technology can be used for something more than aerial photography to contribute to conservation efforts on the world stage.
The point to be made is that technology is an incredibly beneficial tool to have at our disposal – a tool that is continuously evolving, thus helping businesses in every sector to boost productivity, overcome issues and increase their bottom line. We’ve mentioned just a few examples of how technology is being used in aid of the greater good, and is already providing a tremendous force for positive change within the third-sector. By placing technology at the forefront of philanthropy, private businesses have the potential to create widely accessible solutions to prominent societal concerns, from homelessness to dementia; the possibilities are endless. With this in mind, while planning their CSR initiatives it’s important that business leaders recognise that technology offers huge potential as a force for good.