Innovation In Giving

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Innovation in Giving

IIG Christmas Party

Helen Goulden

Monday night saw the gathering of nearly 200 people involved in the Innovation in Giving Fund.  We celebrated the participants who are going through to the next Phase of the Open Innovation Programme, and Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd, trailed our new work in the field of business giving and how we will be supporting innovative new approaches to creating greater impact and sustainability within volunteer centres.

It was great to see how much energy there is for all participants across the fund to engage with each other. Charities large and small, small start-ups, businesses, social enterprises – all working toward a collective goal to increase giving in huge variety of ways.  The Year of Giving blog sets out a little the plans for next year, and there will be much more to say about this in early 2013.

As 2013 comes to a close, a huge, enormous thanks to everyone who has made the Fund work. Our tireless selection panel who have often gone above and beyond the call of duty to support the fund, the Cabinet Office for making it possible of course and all the fund’s awardees, who are showing us just exactly what  Innovations in Giving look like.

See you all in 2013

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Innovation in Giving

The Case for Slow Volunteering…

Helen Goulden

One of the assumptions that are lot of us make when thinking about ways of encouraging more people to volunteer is that people don’t have enough time to get involved. That the pressures of a 21st Century life mean that we are time poor; with jam-packed lives that squeeze out certain kinds of activities.

As someone who shuttles daily between work, the school gate, and suffers the 1950’s gravitational pull of family household chores and a background hum of guilt about not doing – or being – more, I can sympathise with this point of view.

The response to this belief about time poverty in a volunteering context has been to think about designing short, sharp volunteering opportunities; micro-volunteering that might only take a few minutes, or one-off opportunities that might just take an hour or so.  There are a number of initiatives which focus on flexible volunteering and micro-volunteering emerging, and of course technology allows us to accelerate this idea of micro-volunteering either through offering more opportunities online, on phones or as a route to identifying slivers of need out there in the real world.

Through this fund, we’re interested in knowing more about the potential impact of micro-volunteering, hence supporting research by the Institute for Volunteering Research to explore just this issue.

But is this assumption right, that people don’t volunteer because they don’t have the time? I wonder. I’ve been thinking that maybe we are colluding with this idea of time poverty and that the only answer is to break things up into bite size chunks, create opportunities that can be squeezed into the nooks and crannies of every day life as a route to getting more, new people into the habit of volunteering.

Let’s get off that trip momentarily and make a case for Slow Volunteering. A nod toward the Slow Movement and what it stands for…

A recent research report from the Association from Psychological Science claims that giving time away, volunteering to help others actually increases the sense of having more time. Research from Volunteering England suggests that volunteering is good for your health and according to the American Psychological Association it could actually lengthen your life – so not just that it feels like you have more time, but you actually have more time.

Being a Games Maker was a fairly hefty commitment of time. Volunteering at Kings College Hospital requires a serious commitment; one year minimum and a minimum number of hours per week – and both (and many other more intensive volunteering opportunities like the Samaritans) have turned large numbers of people away due to over-subscription.  Time poverty, in these examples, doesn’t seem to present a problem.

And at its heart it’s because these experiences foster feelings of quite deep connection with other people, an increased sense of purpose, of being needed and a more expansive view of care; care beyond our pitiful selves and quiet concerns about our own well-being, toward greater compassion toward others. That takes time. Could micro-volunteering take you to that place? I don’t know.

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Posted by Lynette on December 5, 2012

Innovation in Giving

Award-winning innovations – brief reflections from the inaugural digital fundraising awards

Nicolle Wilkinson

Last week I attended the inaugural Blackbaud’s Digital Fundraising Awards in association with UK Fundraising. The awards are designed to specifically recognise and celebrate the people / organisations that are using digital tools to fundraise in the most effective way with awardees being decided by a combination of expert panel reviews and public voting – with over 8,000 people submitting their votes. From an Innovation in Giving Fund perspective, we were delighted that a number of the innovations that the fund is backing were recognised and short-listed.

Timto, Pennies and Blue Dot were all recognised in the ‘Most Promising Digital Tool’ category and we were delighted that Timto won the overall award, with Blue Dot being highly commended. Although, all three of these innovations are focused upon different areas of giving – gifting, micro-donations and  alternative currencies for positive social action – what they have in common is the ability to embed giving deeper into everyday life through tapping into different motivations.  

In Timto’s case, it seeks to tap into the established motivation of giving and gifting to celebrate special occasions, whilst Pennies enables customers to donate small sums seamlessly as part of everyday transactions and Blue Dot incentivises giving through reward and recognition.  Indeed, embedding giving into everyday activity was a theme, with a number of awards being made for innovations that facilitate this, for example Acorns and Aston Villa Football Club’s Text to Donate campaign.  

The other clear theme to emerge from the awards was a strong reminder of the importance of holistic integration of technology with other aspects of strategic planning, product development, marketing, and communications in maximising the impact of digital giving innovations.

The importance of this was further highlighted in Visceral Business’ Social Charity 100 report which was presented at the awards and provides a comprehensive overview of social charities in the UK. It presents the clear take away that effective performance depends upon picking the right portfolio of platforms, tools, offline support and technologies to suit organisational brand and personality.  

This is an area that we really recognise and are constantly striving to support the innovations that are backed through the Innovation in Giving Fund to cultivate and grow through tailored non-financial support, networking / partnership development and possible follow-on funding for promising innovations.

In addition, through the Open Innovation Programme we have bought together 28 well-known charities with a number of giving innovations (many of which are backed through other strands  of the Innovation in Giving Fund) and it has been fascinating to observe how partnerships come together and witness, first hand, how organisational focus, values and long-term objectives have influenced charities decisions regarding who to partner with and how in order to develop their proposed solutions for their organisational giving challenges. As phase one of the programme has just ended, we look forward to supporting some of these partnerships grow and develop in phase two.

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Posted by Lynette on October 24, 2012