Note: In June of 2019, Tech Trust changed its name to Charity Digital.
Tech Trust, a United Kingdom organization run in partnership with TechSoup, is celebrating as the savings it has helped to realize topped the £200 million mark (about $270 million).
Tech Trust was set up over 16 years ago to explore ways that charities could embrace new technologies for social good and now serves 32,000 charities. The organization, which provides donated products from the likes of Adobe, Cisco, Microsoft, and Symantec, has passed the milestone as charities increasingly turn to digital tools in order to drive efficiency and boost fundraising.
Tech Trust's chairman, Charles Mindenhall, comments:
In our first 13 years, U.K. charities saved £100 million through our programs. That same amount has been saved again in the last four. In the last financial year alone, over 5,000 new charities registered with us, saving £22 million on IT procurement costs between them.
The rapid growth is being driven by the realization within the sector of the benefits that technology can bring to charitable organizations, while at the same time, many are finding that they need to evolve to make stretched funds go further.
Growing with Technology
Tech Trust has come a long way since its early days, when work was largely funded by grants from tech entrepreneurs and focused on early technologies such as digital raffles. The major breakthrough came in 2006, when Cisco and Microsoft inquired about the possibility of donating hardware and software to U.K. charities, building on a successful U.S. pilot with TechSoup. By charging a small administrative fee per product received, Tech Trust was able to develop a social-enterprise model to further support the sector.
Further leading tech partners came on board over the next decade, encouraging more and more charities to sign up, from household names like Save The Children and Oxfam to small local charities. Registration for the IT donation program is free, and any fees typically only cost 4 percent of products' fair market value. As a result, many organizations have been able to utilize technology that they simply couldn't have afforded otherwise, as hundreds of Trustpilot reviews attest.
For many, Tech Trust is seen as a great enabler of the technology revolution within the charity sector. One such person is Peter Jacobs, Head of Digital Engagement at The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who says:
The research into the third sector is clear that there is a real risk that many charities will not survive if they cannot embrace digital as a way to increase donations, improve engagement, become more efficient, and measure their impact.
The platforms that Tech Trust is building should really help the whole sector get excited about the possibilities of digital, upskill on the basics, and find solutions and suppliers that will help them on the path to scalable, efficient services, through informed use of digital and technology.
More to Be Done
Despite having saved charities over £200m, Tech Trust recognizes that there is much more work to be done to help the entire charity sector.
While progress is clearly being made by many charities, others are failing to evolve — to the detriment of their causes. A recent survey by Tech Trust shows that 93 percent of charities with a digital strategy expect their funding to increase next year, while only 26 percent of charities without one feel the same. Worryingly though, the 2017 Lloyds UK Business Index shows that even more charities have what Lloyds considers "low digital capabilities" than last year — up from 12 percent to 16 percent.
On the back of this, Tech Trust is working harder than ever to support digital transformation within the sector.
That work includes the launch of the Tech Trust 101 guide, which will build on the educational content and news blogs on the organization's Charity Digital News website. The Tech Trust 101 will provide a platform through which trustees and senior managers can collaborate with others going through similar journeys. A charity-technology marketplace site will follow, helping IT service providers and cloud-based companies to discount their offerings to charities.
Tech Trust's overriding ambition is to empower charities to accelerate their missions with modern technology, which it hopes to achieve by providing access and information about digital tools in a scalable way — and that can only be a good thing.