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£840,000 digital fund for charities opens for applications

18 Nov 2020 News

An £840,000 fund looking to improve charities’ digital services has opened for applications.

The Sector Challenge Programme will award grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 to charities working in four different cause areas: early years, mental health and wellbeing, sexual abuse and domestic violence, and financial wellbeing.

Funding comes from Catalyst, a network aiming to grow the sector’s digital capabilities, and from a partnership between the The National Lottery Community Fund and Centre for The Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST).

The initiative is part of the £5m digital fund for charities announced by the three organisations in September.

Charities in the programme will be invited to form “clusters” – groups of three charities working in the same areas looking to address a specific issue. For example, one cluster will be looking at how to remotely support people who need to claim Universal Credit, while another one will aim to create a supportive online environment for staff and volunteers working at mental health charities.

Improving resilience

Charities will work in partnership with digital agencies that will help them create the solutions they develop, and findings will be shared with the wider sector. Design charity Shift and digital cooperative DOT PROJECT will provide support to two cause areas each.

Grants are meant to pay for the staff time charities devote to the work. Charities of any size can apply as long as they have at least one paid member of staff. 

Applications opened on Monday on the Catalyst website and will be accepted until 27 November. Clusters will then work on their issues between 11 January and 26 March.

Dan Sutch, chief executive of CAST, said: “The way in which we respond to this crisis is part of creating the new infrastructure that will help our sector become more responsive and resilient in the future. Digital, data and design are key parts of this, but so are the ways in which we organise ourselves to harness that potential to support our communities to thrive.

“I'm really excited about the collective ambitions within the Sector Challenge Programme and how we can work best together to address shared challenges.”

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