Why are we doing this?
Millions of people in the UK give significant amounts of time and resources to help others. Unfortunately, the number of these people is declining. Over the past 12 months, household giving has plummeted by 30 per cent. Charities and volunteer groups are working with scarce resources and are finding it increasingly hard to attract support and funding.
Despite this, there is a huge amount of creativity and innovation being focused on how to increase giving, driven in part by the imaginative use of digital technologies and the reinvention of ideas of sharing and reciprocity. Giving helps to build communities and lessens the impact of some of society’s biggest problems. People who give also tend to live longer, happier, healthier lives.
What are we doing?
Through a £10m fund from the Cabinet Office, Nesta has been working on ways to increase the numbers of people who give.
We set out to find and support the most exciting innovators; to help them bring their ideas to life; and to help the most promising ideas and organisations grow their impact and reach many more people.
We also wanted to encourage established charities and public services to embrace these new ways of giving.
Here’s a look at what this means in practice:
- Through two open calls we have conducted a nationwide search for the best and most radical ideas for new ways to support and encourage giving, reviewing almost 1,000 ideas, interviewing well over 100 teams of innovators and ultimately awarding grants and non-financial support to 56 innovations. You can find the full portfolio of open call awardees here, along with their contact details and video pitches.
- In a bid to engage more charities with new innovations in giving, Nesta set up The Open Innovation Programme, which engaged with 60 established charities with national reach to test their appetite to source ideas from beyond their organisational boundaries. In December 2012, we selected ten charities to find, adopt and scale innovations in giving that showed the potential to solve some of their biggest challenges.
- The UK’s volunteering infrastructure has faced some serious challenges in the last 18 months, and there is a clear need to work with Volunteer Centres specifically to increase their impact and financial sustainability. As part of the fund, in early 2013 Nesta launched the Volunteer Centre Programme. We engaged with 90 local infrastructure organisations through regional events and ultimately selected eight for intensive support to develop their ideas and to encourage them to think about innovation as a deliberate strategy for increasing the impact of their work.
- In February 2013, we launched our work to support impact volunteering in hospitals with a partnership with King’s College Hospital to dramatically expand their ‘King’s Volunteers’ model within the hospital, and piloting a new initiative to support patients once back at home. A deeper impact evaluation of this work has begun and Nesta will be creating a Play Book, or ‘how to guide’, for any hospital wanting to set up their own successful volunteer programme.
Meet the innovators in giving
Read about all the projects we've backed on our Innovation in Giving Fund website
This blog series covers insights from our work with 10 major charities to test new ways to increase giving