In April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Divante kick-started an initiative that would engage hundreds of companies to help struggling NGOs around the world with free services.
- Hundreds of tech companies from around the world offer their services for free to help NGOs in need
- NGOs can make use of software, consulting, marketing, and IT solutions and resources
- Tech To The Rescue grew from an in-house idea to an international movement in just days
A truly global initiative
“Tech to The Rescue” is a voluntary movement connecting IT companies with non-governmental organizations around the world. At TechToTheRescue.org, NGOs can find a list of companies offering free help with IT, design, marketing, and even legal services. The list is open and is constantly growing as companies join the fight.
To sign up, a company has to provide the method and scope of offered assistance and their contact details. All the information goes to a publicly accessible database which can be used by employees and volunteers of non-governmental organizations around the world to find the right support for urgent initiatives.
“There is a lot of talk about the needs of entrepreneurs but we are afraid that the global crisis will also hit social organizations. They don’t have budgets for rapid digitization and are often unable to respond as efficiently as companies. We hope that the help of talented people from the IT industry will alleviate this problem a little in this difficult situation.”Tom Karwatka, initiator of Tech To The Rescue, CEO at Divante.
The organizers underline that no business is profiting from the help they provide and companies that have declared their support within TechToTheRescue.org agree to make their data public and undertake to provide the offered services as soon as possible. Speed and delivery are vital in a dynamically changing world.
How and why did this brilliant non-profit project come about? Who’s behind it? And what is the plan for the future?
From table to working website in two days
It all started with a simple Excel table, which Tomasz Karwatka made available to his friends at other software houses, with a request for them to sign up if they wanted to do something to combat the COVID-19 crisis. The document was then sent to representatives of various NGOs.
“When I saw that there were almost 50 people in this online document, I thought it might be a good idea for a bigger action.”Tom Karwatka
When it became clear that there was great interest in the initiative, Tomasz Karwatka proposed setting up a platform where companies and NGOs could meet. The idea was taken up by the Divante Impact community, an internal group of employees who are willing to help others, and they soon set to action.
“I have often been involved in helping NGOs to survive in the digital world and I know how much help they lack. The idea of bringing together altruistic technology companies that want to help with their know-how, resources, and sometimes making software available for free seemed great to me. After a short talk with the team, I had a page in my head that would bring together those in need and those offering help.”Tomasz Anioł, Product Marketing Manager at Divante.
After establishing the main aims and settling on the name “Tech To The Rescue”, the Divante Impact team was able to go live with a functioning website just two days after the initial idea was pitched in an Excel sheet.
“It was one of the fastest implementations in my career. We were able to use software that allowed us to implement the design very quickly. I took care of the layout of the site, mapping, and customizing messages. The design department supported us with coloring all this. In the next stage, Tomasz Anioł combined it with a tool for collecting forms. Publishing was the first stage. Then we started to promote it. It wasn’t a very complicated project, but it was created quickly as we wanted to start helping others as fast as possible.”Monika Wąs, Brand Manager at Divante.
After one month, 35 NGOs are listed on the website and 178 companies from 17 different countries are ready for help. Almost 4,300 users have visited the website since its launch, with no paid traffic.
A successful Product Hunt campaign saw Tech To The Rescue place in the global top 10, and the project has had press coverage in influential Polish media outlets such as TVN 24, Gazeta Wyborcza, and TOK FM.
A holistic approach is key to success
Technology companies give NGOs digital tools but don’t always provide them with support to make full use of these products. In other words, NGOs receive software packages that they cannot use. This way everyone loses out: IT companies make their people and software available for free but don’t see the results, and NGOs get help can’t make the most of it.
The creators of the “Tech to The Rescue” wanted to avoid this issue.
“The solution here is not to give a rod or a fish, but a fishing course. In this model, we fish together so we learn together. An IT company launches a project together with an NGO in the same way as with its other clients: it starts with a conversation, understanding the needs of the NGO. Then they show what solutions are available and how to use them to maximum effect.”Tomasz Karwatka
The crisis is a lens
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are dying from the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 also has a huge impact on the economy and will be followed by a major global economic crisis. In this difficult situation, we are all trying to find some positive aspects.
“At Divante, we say that the pandemic is a bit like a lens; it brings things into focus. Things that have been slow to happen are suddenly accelerating. Projects which were supposed to last two years are being implemented in two weeks. There’s a lot of clutter involved but also a lot of willingness. It is difficult and demanding but it can have a positive effect.”Tom Karwatka
“Tech To The Rescue” project is a great example of a project that happened at an accelerated pace. The most positive outcome is that it was an initiative that started in response to the coronavirus crisis but will have a positive effect further into the future.
“The pandemic gave us the drive to act on something we already had in the back of our minds. We don’t want to just engage right now and then close the project once the worst is over. We see this as the beginning of a constant contact and support hub linking NGOs with IT companies.”Monika Wąs
Driven to help others
“The Tech to The Rescue” project fits in perfectly with the values of Divante. One of them is Drive: The drive to change the world for the better.
“Like everyone else, sitting at home and following instructions, I felt helpless; but I wanted to help as much as I could. Luckily, working in a software house, we realized that we have something of value to offer to by opening up technological support to NGOs.”Monika Wąs
The people behind “The Tech to The Rescue” are doers. They got involved in the project as volunteers and worked after hours at a time when there was even more daily work than ever. Although Divante here is only the initiator of this action, and others are now engaged, it is natural that this project was born in this company.
“We hope our message reaches the representatives of the NGO and non-profit sectors. There are plenty of people willing to get involved. We have the knowledge, skills, tools, and time to help these organizations at least partially digitize their activities. All they need to do is get in touch and start the conversation.”Tim Clayton, Senior Copywriter at Divante, co-author of the techtotherescue.org site.
Are you an NGO in need of help? Or you are a tech company and want to volunteer your services? All you need to do is to go to the www.techtotherescue.org, connect with others, and get started.
Published May 4, 2020