Social Tech Stories

Technology for social change has been one of the bright success stories of the last ten years. Millions of dollars have been spent, and many hundreds of new non-profits and businesses launched to house new ideas.

But the leaders of social tech organizations are trapped in a catch-22 - funded like non-profits but needing to build innovative small businesses. Since their end clients are the most vulnerable in society there’s rarely a business model that will attract more conventional capital - but very few non-profit or government funders will cover core staff costs, strategy, marketing, product development, and sales - all things that businesses need to grow.

As a result, these organizations are hobbled, their teams overworked and underpaid, with core skillsets not hired for and products feature-rich and infrastructure-light. Most projects won’t result in real change at ground level. Getting these challenges out in the open would let us reflect on current practice and formulate responses; improve donorship and support to these organizations and allow people entering the sector to do so with eyes open.

I want to run a storytelling project for the people behind the exploding civic technology industry. I’ll create a safe and anonymous way for people to share their stories, without fear of losing funding or compromising the organizations they’ve worked so hard to build. The project will shed light on the ways that the battle for funding, support and visibility shape the work and the impact of these organizations and leave indelible marks on the lives of their staff and the people they try to help, and try to chart a better way forward.

Read the full concept note here.