£1.2m boost for CAST accelerator could help charities beat funding cuts

Written as editor of the New Statesman’s NS Tech and first published here.

The Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST) has been awarded £1.2 million from the Big Lottery Fund to help it support third-sector organisations doing digital.

CAST has been piloting an accelerator model that pairs a top tech team with a charity in order to help them use their sector knowledge to build new and, crucially, useful tools.

The cash will be used to support 12 organisations through the Fuse programme over three years, as well as creating a set of best practice tools to help share knowledge.

Fuse has already helped Oxfam with the development of a digital payment service for people “on the cusp of food poverty” and supported Breast Cancer Care with the development of community app BECCA.

Speaking to Jo Wolfe, assistant director of digital at Breast Cancer Care, in June, she told NS Tech: “Yes, we need a response to digital in charities, but change can be more gradual. It needs to be sustainable, meaningful and long-lasting, because there are so many people who rely on us.”

Third sector organisations have been hugely affected by central government funding cuts, but are also facing increasing demand from people affected by shrinking local services.

Doing more, better, using digital could be the thing that keeps charities online in uncertain times.

Applications for the accelerator programme will open later this year.

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