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How Neighbourly is using tech to change the world


We sit down with the Tech4Good BT MyDonate award winners to find out how they plan to make a real difference

Technology is the great enabler, and nothing shows that more than in the charity sector, where tech is making a huge difference to millions of peoples’ lives every single day. The Tech4Good awards celebrate these achievements and it was a privilege to be a judge in the BT MyDonate category, which awards companies that have used tech to help raise funds or volunteering time. While all of the nominees were worthy, Neighbourly stuck out to the judges. It’s a social platform that connects businesses and organisations with local projects and volunteers, making a real difference at the community level. I talked to co-founder Nick Davies about Neighbourly, how it works and what it can offer.

Davies explained how Neighbourly came about, as a way for companies to “activate social change”. In particular, the site was designed to help big companies work at the grassroots level, making a real difference to people, mirroring the 17 UN sustainable development goals (see lead image). Previously this kind of activity was hard for companies to achieve.

“Companies had to put people on the ground to oversee a project,” explained Davies. “The process was entirely manual.”
Having to rely on manual processes meant that companies often physically didn’t have the resources to channel into projects: they had the will but not the means. With Neighbourly, businesses can connect with volunteers on the ground, working with like-minded people to achieve change.

Although the platform can, and will, be used by people wanting to get projects off the ground, hooking up companies that provide the resources, Neighbourly launched with a purpose to get the system really rolling: redistributing food.
“We knew people were going hungry and wanted to arrange a campaign around that,” said Davies. “We wanted to organise the community to fight-the-fight together.”

With companies, such as Marks and Spencer joining up (it has donated more than 230 tonnes of surplus food and is connected to over 580 UK charities), it’s fair to say that the project has been a huge success. Projects like this are implemented on a local scale, letting people see the results while enacting huge change.

This kind of charitable work is becoming increasingly popular with companies, as it lets them show their true values to the world and their customers. It also paints capitalism in a betters light: most people mistrust unfettered capitalism, but if making a profit also means a better world, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

As for the future, Neighbourly’s plans are to grow bigger and expand, working on projects all over the world. As Davies explained, Neighbourly wants to be “the world’s social network for social change”.

With technology able to bring together the world over, I don’t doubt that this goal is achievable. For more information check out Neighbourly and the Tech4Good awards.

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