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Welcome to the first part of the new NCVO website. While we finish building it, you will find the rest of our help and guidance on our existing site.

Funding for digital and technology costs

This page covers key things to think about when applying for grant funding for digital and technology costs.

Types of digital costs and grant funding options

Support and maintenance costs for digital and technology

These can include the cost of:

  • website hosting
  • technology or digital staff, or an external provider to support you
  • software upgrades
  • budgets for developers looking after any of your digital assets.

The best way to tackle support costs is to include them whenever any grant funder allows you to include overheads or full or partial cost recovery. You should work out what proportion of your digital costs should be included just as you do for office costs.

You should also make sure you are getting the cheapest options available by making use of discounts. And you should make sure your leaders are considering these costs as a core cost of your organisation when planning budgets.

A digital service or activity project

More and more funders are funding digital projects like creating a new online service or providing an online version of a successful face-to-face service. Some funders also have specialised digital funds.

Most funders will expect you to have:

  • carried out research to make sure you understand what the people you work with really need
  • options for making it sustainable at the end of the project
  • enough knowledge and experience to successfully manage a digital project
  • a plan for support and maintenance costs, even if these are small
  • included costs for digital marketing as well as the digital activity, service or product itself
  • looked at options for using existing software and tools before deciding to build anything from scratch
  • a genuinely new service or activity – not a rebuild of a website or a new internal system.

You may need to help the funder understand:

  • that you know what outcomes you are aiming for and you want to take a ‘test and learn’ approach to achieving them
  • that not knowing exactly what the solution will look like at the beginning of the project is the best way to help more people
  • that traditional measurement and evaluation methods need to be adapted to make sense in a digital context.

Digital transformation projects

Many funders that support organisational change will consider digital and technology costs as part of a wider change programme. To take this approach you will need to:

  • be able to dedicate significant amounts of staff or volunteer time to make it successful
  • be committed to transformation, not just trying to cover the costs of an upgrade to a newer and better system.

Links to advice to help you tackle the challenges

Key grant funders with specific digital programmes

Comic Relief

Comic Relief have been a leading funder of digital projects in the UK for several years. They partner up with Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Clothworkers Foundation. Their projects run under two strands.

The National Lottery Community Fund

The National Lottery Community Fund ran a very large digital fund in 2018, providing funding for three years. They are also keen to see bids to their open funds for digital projects. This includes their Covid support funding.

National Lottery Community Fund

Catalyst

This relatively new partnership aims to radically improve how digital is used in charities. They funded a range of new digital projects between September 2020 and April 2021. The Catalyst focus is on:

  • good research with the people who will use the services
  • re-using existing tools and software wherever possible
  • building through a test and learn approach if something new is needed.

Find out what Catalyst is doing in 2021 and beyond. Sign up to the Catalyst newsletter.

Nominet

Nominet runs funding programmes focused on digital solutions to specific issues. These change at least annually.

Keep an eye on their Tech for Good news page.

Other angles to consider

Social tech investments and grants

Social enterprises, start ups and charities that are formed around a digital idea can look for tech for good or social tech grants or investments. Developers and technologists are usually expected to be at the core of the organisation.

Funders are launching digital funds or accepting digital projects all the time

Use keywords ‘digital’ or ‘technology’ in any grant funding search tool to find them. If you are running digital inclusion projects, or digital skills projects, use those specific terms as there are often strands of government funding available.

Last reviewed: 02 March 2021

Help us improve this content

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 02 March 2021

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