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Specialist Volunteer Network at the Tech for Good Summit - Inspiring Scotland

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04.05.2023

Specialist Volunteer Network at the Tech for Good Summit

Inspiring Scotland’s Specialist Volunteer Network (SVN) team supported the Tech for Good Summit hosted by the Scottish Tech Army (STA) on Thursday 20th April. In this blog Tommy Seymour highlights the important work done by the SVN and STA, as well as his key takeaways from the event.  

‘Come ready to listen, leave ready to act’ was the strapline of the third annual Tech for Good Summit, hosted by our friends at the STA. Since the STA’s inception in 2020, they have recruited over 2,000 tech volunteers and have worked with more than 300 organisations across Scotland.  

Both the Inspiring Scotland’s SVN and STA provide a powerful and unique resource for the Scottish Third sector, and the last few years has seen a signposting partnership and collaboration develop with a number of Specialist Volunteers donning STA hats, and vice versa. 

This partnership was shone under the spotlight with Inspiring Scotland’s SVN Executive, Elaine Crichton, joining Joanna Allen – Head of Projects and Programmes at STA, and Dr Jansev Jemal – Director of Pro Bono Economics; for a panel discussion on ‘Skilled Volunteering – Opportunities for the Third sector.’  

In this panel Elaine talked about Inspiring Scotland’s SVN, of over 500 Specialist Volunteers who were called upon to support over 200 charities last year. Elaine was able to provide an example of the essential work done by the SVN, talking of a charity receiving a VAT rebate of £27,000 through the intervention of a Specialist Volunteer. An important saving as this equates to the salary for a project worker for a year in the charity sector! 

According to Elaine:

“When a tech request is made through SVN we find a lot of the time the issue is not knowing what you don’t know.” 

We have a number of incredible tech and digital Specialist Volunteers who can help organisations explore digital and enhance IT business systems so that they work for you 

Our Specialist Volunteer, Michael Woo – Associate Director at Protiviti, always stresses how there is a mindset shift needed to embrace tech, and not just submitting the IT support request when something breaks.  

Tommy’s Tech for Good takeaways:  

  • Alastair Forbes, Founding Director and CEO of STA, highlighted some key findings from an NCVO 2021 survey which stated 81% of charities changed how they used tech during the pandemic – and the Tech for Good movement, bridging the gap of what’s currently out of reach for the Third sector. He described a Tech for Good UK industry of 30,000 employees – which would effectively double if the wider UK Tech industry of 3 million dedicated 1% of their working hours to Tech for Good. 
  • Over 80% of UK charities see tech as an opportunity, with around 50% of those seeing themselves as just at the start of their digital journey. UK Pro Bono Association partner, Ed Mayo of Pilot Light, described skilled volunteering as good for business, with powerful messaging around “give back, get back.” 
  • Madeline Hutchinson, Global Head of Tech Philanthropy at Morgan Stanley, whose Glasgow’s Women in Tech group supported the SVN with development days and a mentoring partnership over the last year. Madeline described skilled volunteering as Win – Win – Win! It provides Third sector organisations with access to tech; opportunity for volunteers to challenge and stretch themselves, gaining experience in end-to-end delivery; and for companies who support skilled volunteering to showcase talent development and retention.   
  • Fiona Burton, Managing Director of AND Digital, Edinburgh, explained skilled volunteering and the fundamental mindset of businesses and Boards who encourage it, as being visionary and future thinking. 

With staff and financial resources being stretched further than ever, it’s important that charity staff and leaders focus on what they do best – this is where support from SVN can step in.  

Even if you have a seedling idea, reach out to the Specialist Volunteer Network or find out more about our work and we can connect you with experts to support you through discovery and design, and plug you into the Tech for Good Ecosystem.  

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