Twenty charities have received £8.6m from The National Lottery Community Fund to improve and scale their digital services.
The charities operate in a range of different sectors, from mental health to sports to children and family support, and will be able to use the funds to either start new digital projects or increase the impact of existing ones.
How the fund works
Charities have been awarded up to £500,000 each through the fund and will also receive support from a dedicated “eco-system” of tech charities, coaches and mentors.
Among established charities which were awarded funds to modernise their services are Refugee Action, Samaritans, Parkinson’s UK and Citizen’s Advice.
Refugee Action will build a digital network of more than 150 refugee support organisations, allowing them to better coordinate and to target their services.
Pascale Gayford, good practice and partnerships manager at Refugee Action, said: “Thanks to this funding, we’ll be able to use digital tools to fundamentally re-think how refugee and asylum services can be delivered in the digital age.
“We’ll work with peer organisations to develop good practice across the sector – and in turn we anticipate learning more about the root causes of crises among refugees and people seeking asylum.”
Newer organisations that had already launched digital-based services and will use the funds to grow them include Mental Health Innovations (MHI).
MHI operates Shout, the UK’s first 24/7 text message-based mental health support service, which will now become available for other mental health charities to use.
Victoria Hornby, chief executive, MHI, said: “We know there is a huge demand for mental health support services, and at Shout, we are using technology to meet that demand at scale, helping people connect by text to trained and supervised Crisis Volunteers, at moments when they need support.”
Learnings will be shared with the wider sector
Grantees have committed to share what they learn with the rest of the sector, which The National Lottery Community Fund said was “a key aim” in setting up the fund in the first place.
Some of the charities who received the grants directly provide services to other charities, such as the NCVO, which will use the funds to start a new technology strategy and help other charities set up their digital services.
Cassie Robinson, head of digital grant making, National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We're delighted to be able to support this diverse set of organisations as they harness digital technology in creative and forward-thinking ways, to both transform the way they operate, and the way that services are delivered across the voluntary sector over the long-term.
“Now, thanks to National Lottery players, these organisations can increase their digital capacity to have a greater impact in communities and support our sector to thrive in the digital age.”