Blog: Tech4Good Bristol - a free, creative network for support with digital technologies

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Photo by City of Seattle Community Tech CC BY-NC 2.0
Tuesday, 15 May, 2018

Blog written by Ed Howarth, Senior Project Manager, Bath Social Development Research and Co-Organiser of Tech4Good Bristol


'Tech4Good' is another buzzword, fizzing around social media at the moment. I first heard the term about 3 years ago (15 or so years late to the game!). In 2015, I was working as a development worker at Voscur and through that role, I started to see the huge potential technology could bring to organisations. However, in an increasingly cash-strapped sector, it was clear that accessing the skills to make the most of these technologies was tough, meaning voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations were missing out. 

Tech4Good Bristol grew out of a workshop organised by Voscur and the Open Data Institute Bristol, which looked to understand the ‘tech and data’ needs of VCSE organisations. Some of the clear needs that were highlighted, included, upskilling and creating a space for ‘techies’ and ‘not-for-profits’ to meet and share ideas and skills. 

At that workshop, I met Helen Woodcock from the Systems Integration and data analytics company KETL and Jen Williams from Networked Planet, a ‘semantic web’ software company. Jen suggested starting Tech4Good Bristol. Despite being a ‘non-techie’, I tentatively joined them, and with a little bit of support from TechSoup and NetSquared, Tech4Good Bristol was launched in March 2017 and is now a thriving community of over 500 members. 

Our hope is that we can create an informal networking space for the many hundreds of ‘not for profit’ staff and volunteers across the city, to come together with the tech sector in Bristol to share ideas and see how digital technologies can support their work. Our focus is on free and easy to use tech, wherever possible. 

So how does it work….

We aim to put on four free networking events a year, each focusing on a practical theme that will resonate with VCSE organisations, such as ‘fundraising’ or ‘monitoring’, and then share different technologies out there that can help carry out that work more effectively and efficiently. It is as simple as that. As Tech4Good Bristol is entirely run by volunteers, we are able to offer these sessions for free to local groups.

Come along to our next meetup and see what it’s all about…

If you are fed up with lever-arch files full of invoices and expenses claims or cross-checking payments against statements, then our next Tech4Good Bristol meetup (23rd May, Bristol Energy Hub, 5:30pm-8pm) could be for you – Using tech to manage finances in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. Register here.

We will have Jen Gerrard from Gerrard Financial Consulting talking through some of the ‘free’ and ‘paid for’ financial management platforms out there and top tips on picking the correct one. There will also be plenty of time for networking as well as a slot for local announcements/’shout-outs’ that may be of interest to attendees.

So, that is Tech4Good…and Jen, Helen and I, hope it grows in Bristol, as the tech world can learn so much from the not-for-profit world and vice-versa. 

Thanks and hope to see you on 23rd May.

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