Charity Hack brings tech innovation to Scotland’s third sector

Over the weekend a group of tech innovators stayed in a room drumming up creative ideas for six Scottish member charities.

Charity Hack Scotland, run by ACOSVO and Mallzee, an online fashion company, involved thirty tech-experts being split into teams and paired with charities from across Scotland.

The teams were presented a digital challenge by their charity, and worked for 48hrs to design the best solution they could.

Pat Armstrong, ACOSVO Chief Officer, said:

“As third sector leaders we are so busy keeping our organisations going that we often don’t have time to think about how we best harness technology – it’s very easy to do what we have always done. The hackathon has really given us all food for thought on what is possible, how important it is to take the time to consider new solutions, and to see how much can be achieved when you match technical expertise with third sector challenges.

“We see a lot happening in technology and digital at the moment but it tends to be either through digital inclusion at a community level or digital platforms at a sectoral level. The hack weekend enabled third sector leaders to harness innovation and expertise directly to tailor solutions and meet the challenges.”

At the end of the weekend, each team presented their design to the other teams and to a panel of judges, it all got a bit ‘Dragon’s Den’!

Clare Lappin - Fundraising Manager of winning organisation Visibility said:

“The hack was so valuable to Visibility because it presented a unique opportunity, which we couldn’t easily facilitate ourselves as a small charity, to explore really innovative ways of developing what we do by harnessing the power of technology.
“We were quite frankly blown away by our team’s ideas which consisted of two useable products and the concept of an app, to help people living with sight loss self-manage their condition. We would love to progress the products and concepts achieved over the weekend to a point where they can be accessed by everyone – not just in our geographical area but beyond. In this respect, we will be pursuing connections made over the weekend, in the hope that we can secure funding to bring the hard work of our ‘hack’ team to fruition.
“We are truly grateful to ACOSVO for making this event happen and do hope to see it as a regular event in the future which other organisations can benefit from.”

Roddy Byers, Head of Funding for the BIG Lottery Fund, which funded the event, said:

“Big Lottery Fund in Scotland was delighted to support ACOSVO's Charity Hack event through an Awards for All award. We were also delighted to contribute to the judging panel who considered 6 excellent new product ideas designed to make a real improvement in third sector responses.

“We were impressed by the energy and effort put in by the participants and the quality and ingenuity of the proposed solutions. We would encourage all the participants to continue to develop their solutions in the coming months.”

Based on the stunning designs presented, the connections that were made (and already being followed up on) and sheer number of requests to do it again, ACOSVO believe that the weekend was a great success. They would like to thank the following people and organisations for their help, support, and enthusiasm in making it all happen: The Big Lottery Fund, The Melting Pot, Social Bite, Mallzee, Social Stampede, Rob Dobson, Schuh, the six charities who gave challenges, the judges, and of course the tech experts who gave up a whole weekend to use their tech skills for good.