Technology can offer solutions for increased social impact in Europe? The proposition was debated at the “Technology for Social Good” conference held in Brussels today.
For the various great insights (you don’t need to be a techno- geek ) shared by the lecturers, I suggest you to take a look at the conference organizer TechSoup Europe web site and the tweets under the hashtag #tech4good.
Just for the record, TechSoup Europe is a network of 28 civil society capacity building organisations across 48 countries (including all 28 EU member states) serving a community of over 250,000 civil society organisations in the region. It focuses on supporting the growth and stability of civil society organisations through the intelligent use of information and communication technologies. TechSoup Network Europe has provided over € 914 million of savings to the civil society sector.
A sector full of threats to face and opportunities to exploit. On this notion, Gerry Salole, CEO of European Foundation Centre, one of the guests that kicked off the plenary session, offored an overview on the
sector’s state to the art. The following bullets points summarize his views.
Unrealistic Expectations: We have limited resources. We have been asked to put those resources into the public good in ways that are unrealistic, un-strategic, un-programmed.
Shifting contexts: Things are changing so fast that institutions that are essentially built to support and engage in a particular way now have difficulties shifting. It takes a ling time. They are facing a structural problem.
Shrinking: Just as the sector is expected to respond to the withdrawal of the welfare state, the sector becomes the target for increased regulations and oversight. When you ask organizations to stretch themselves, it turns out they are facing more regulations that are causing them problems.
Paradox about local and global: There are entities that are built essentially to work with local communities but they have to put their eyes out to global issues, global trends, global problems.
The Achilles Hill: The sector is governed independently and yet it needs to be more collaborative. It can not do the job alone. There is tension between "I know what to do" but "I cannot do it alone".
Working together. We have been asked to prove ourselves, to take stock of where we are. But we have to stop worrying about things that other players are doing better then us. Indeed, we have to start looking at things that bring us together, on things we don’t have the answers for yet, and understand how we can work together. Technology will give us the opportunity to do that.
In the cover photo, a scene from the conference.