Why did we do 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. In the 12 months leading up to the launch of the project, household giving plummeted by 30 per cent. Charities and volunteer groups were working with scarce resources and finding it increasingly hard to attract support and funding.
Despite this, there was 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 did we do?
Through a £10m fund from the Cabinet Office, Nesta began 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 aimed to encourage established charities and public services to embrace these new ways of giving.
What this means in practice
- Through two open calls, we 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.
- 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.
- 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 a new initiative to support patients once back at home.
- Over the course of the Innovation in Giving Fund, the organisations we backed engaged 225,402 volunteers and raised £5,583,312 in donations.
- Some of the most interesting, fresh and creative ideas we supported came from beyond the charitable sector from areas such as the digital social entrepreneur space.
- Initial seed funding is key to supporting innovation intelligently.
- Technology has the power to transform how people give, but we need to invest in and support innovations in order to make the most of this rapidly evolving sector.
- Crowdfunding is a growing area of technology that has a great deal of potential, allowing givers to become investors in the things they support.
- Digital innovations also have the power to allow organisations to target givers like never before, for instance in the same way the advertising industry does.
- While sharing and lending are clearly already happening, technology has the potential to amplify the peer–to–peer sharing of time, skills and resources.
Read the full report for more information.