Innovation In Giving


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

Innovation in Giving


Philip Colligan – 01.06.2012

The search is on for more potentially game-changing innovations in giving.  Last week (29 May) we launched the second open call for ideas for the Innovations in Giving Fund.

You can find details of the call here, including a short note with some reflections and feedback on what happened in the first open call at the end of last year.

Why publish feedback in this way?  We had two objectives.

The first was to share our experience and reflections with innovators that might be thinking about applying to the Fund.  We received 448 applications to the last call for ideas, which involved a huge amount of effort by the people who applied as well as the Nesta team that had to sift, score and select them.  In that process, lots of knowledge was generated. Rather than attempt to give feedback to all those that didn’t make the shortlist individually, we decided to try to pull together common themes and messages and share those more widely.

If you’re thinking of applying to the Fund, I hope that you find the note useful.  Please let us know either way.

The second reason is a more general shift towards openness – or perhaps more accurately, legibility – which we’re trying to make in the work of the Lab.  The excellent Bryan Boyer from our Finnish sister organisation Sitra puts it far more eloquently than me in his blog post on the subject, but it’s about going beyond openness and sharing what we do in a way that can be understood, interrogated and improved by others.

Our work to support social innovation is necessarily emergent and evolving.  This is still a relatively young field and often, we’re designing entirely new ways to find and support innovators through our programmes and funds.  Wherever we can, we build on experience and knowledge – both our own and from others.  We want others to do the same and that puts a responsibility on us to be legible. 

It also relates to another change that we’ve made to our approach to programmes recently.  When you apply for a Nesta programme now – you’re likely to be asked to do so in public – whether through a video or summary of your idea posted online.  I know that some people have found that difficult, but generating and orchestrating knowledge is one of main ways in which we think we add value to the world.  Getting innovators to share their ideas helps build a body of knowledge about where the energy and focus is in a field, as well as inspiring others and leading to new collaborations. 

It also means that we have to work harder to explain how and why we take decisions to back one idea and not another.  That has to be a good thing.

Click here for more information on the Innovation In Giving Fund


Posted by carrina on June 7, 2012