When you hear the word digital, do you automatically think communications and social media? It is a common assumption. However, even though there are more efficient ways to communicate with supporters, there are two areas of digital that often get neglected: internal operations and delivering your mission to beneficiaries. This blog demonstrates how charities and social enterprises have used digital to deliver better solutions and not just improve how they talk to supporters. It's not about using technology for the sake of it but acknowledging that digital solutions can improve your impact to beneficiaries.
We Farm was set up to help rural farmers around the world access vital information to help them improve their crops and livestock. It does this through an online community of farmers, who may be in the UK, Kenya or Malaysia. Each farmer who has a question to a problem that they are facing can send an SMS to the We Farm number. We Farm then messages the question to the relevant people within the online community. When someone has an answer, We Farm replies by SMS to the farmer with the problem. Being rural and without internet isn't an issue and isolated farmers can access information to improve their farming, despite not having access to traditional markets, agricultural inputs and finance.
Breast Cancer Care discovered that their beneficiaries needed support post treatment as they were getting back to life without cancer. To provide this support, they created an app, called Becca. The app provides information, support and inspiration to post-cancer patients, on an interface designed as flashcards. The app is accessible to those who have smart phones and those who don't, via a web app.
I Got Garbage is an intiative setting out to improve the livelihoods of waste pickers in Bengaluru, India by helping them enter into the mainstream market. Waste pickers are victims of high socio-economic inequality and I Got Garbage connects them into social business franchises where they can work as recycling managers, improving the environment around them. They can additionally access social security and in addition less landfills exist, which improves the environment.
This is all done through a digital platform, which operates as an online marketplace. Here recycling managers are connected to buyer communities (homes and offices) where waste management services are accessed.
Southern Sudanese teachers are given tablets by the charity to improve learning for their classes. They can access teaching exercises, current lesson plans which are updated by supervisors every month. Teachers also gain training regularly that enables them to teach children in child-centred, participatory and inclusive ways. The clever thing is that it isn't reliant on daily internet but speeds up the learning process and improves the quality of the education, as well as empowering teachers with relevant training and resources.
Utilising digital to improve your projects
If you aren't currently utilising digital capabilities for your beneficiaries, maybe it is time to assess how. Sometimes, it is easier to make small changes to existing projects, which improve your mission impact. You don't always have to start something new. However, assessing where changes can be made is the first step. Get in touch with us at PlanLab to discuss how to go about this. A free coffee chat is on us!