The Charity IT Award and the WCIT Charity

How did the WCIT Charity build up a prize fund of £750,000?

The fund is made up of investment gains on money generously donated by the members of the WCIT, built up mainly since the last downturn. The Trustees of the WCIT Charity decided to make a substantial grant, seeking high and sustained impact, rather than spreading the sum over many smaller grants.

How can I join the WCIT, who is eligible?

Anyone who works in the tech sector can apply to join. To become a member you have to demonstrate an understanding of the WCIT’s values and an ability to contribute to its work. For more information see: www.wcit.org.uk

Who has won previous awards?

This is the WCIT Charity’s first Charity IT Award but in the past it has funded charities like AbilityNet, Lifelites, Thames Reach, Bristol Braille Technology and Blind in Business.

Will charities with connections to the WCIT be favoured?

No. The Trustees have appointed an independent judging panel to ensure that the best project is selected.  Any conflict of interest will be declared and managed appropriately.  The WCIT Charity is very committed to finding the best use of technology for good, no matter where it comes from.

How is this award different from other charity tech awards?

This award is not only one of the largest single charity tech awards, but it is also supported by the network of WCIT members, who bring a vast amount of talent and expertise. This is a unique opportunity for any charity that wants to use technology for good.

By awarding one large award to a single organisation it will potentially significantly scale them. Are you worried this may skew the market and have a negative effect on other organisations?

The WCIT Charity hopes the award will have a positive impact on society but appreciates that there are risks involved.  Avoiding replication is one of the key principles the Trustees have laid out to ensure that the award does not compete with an existing project. Applicants should consider evidencing the innovation in their proposals

Would you consider splitting the award between a few organisations if they were equally strong? If not, why do you want to only fund one?

There are other funding streams for smaller grants, and the Trustees have decided to use the Charity IT Award to support one project to make a big difference and to showcase the transformative power of IT.

Why did you decide to run an award rather than giving the money away as regular grants?

The WCIT Charity already has a regular grants program that can be accessed via www.wcit.org.uk but the Trustees felt that this was an opportunity to do something special. In technology, as in other areas, scale brings benefits (as well as risks).

Eligibility

Can consortia of charities apply; e.g. could two smaller charities come together for a joint project if it met the criteria?

Definitely. The WCIT Charity believes in synergy, not competition.  Collaborating charities should consider how the project will be managed, and where responsibility and accountability will lie. The project should add to societal benefit, avoiding competition with other initiatives.

Are you only looking for projects that focus on direct service delivery or would you also consider less direct work if it helps the target beneficiaries  (e.g. research, campaigning, policy, evidence or infrastructure work that would strengthen the sector as a whole)?

The WCIT Charity is open to any application but the project has to be able to demonstrate the impact that it will have on the beneficiary groups identified.

Are you happy to accept applications from social enterprises if they are also registered charities?

Yes.

Can schools apply?

Yes. However, the project  would have to be an exceptional one that could be replicated in other schools on a sustainable basis.

If the charity is registered and based in the UK, but the benefit is delivered abroad, will this count against an applicant?

The Charity IT Award winner should deliver impact within the UK.

Does it matter where in the UK the charity is based or where its benefit is delivered?

It does not matter where in the UK the charity is based but the WCIT Charity hopes that people in London will benefit from this project.

My charity is just over / just under the income limit – can I still apply?

If you are within a few percentage points of the limits, please contact the Project Manager, Lena Baumgartner, and she will be able to resolve the question.

If we are unsuccessful in this application, can we apply for next year’s award?

The WCIT Charity would welcome applications for funds in the future for any project that meets its objectives.  However, it is unlikely that the WCIT Charity will be making another single grant award of £750,000 next year.

Application process

Will charities that are applying need to put together very onerous amounts of detail?

The WCIT Charity is mindful not to waste charities’ time and the initial application information is relatively simple and easy to complete. The judging panel will then narrow down the number of applications, and only a handful of finalists will be subject to extensive due diligence. It is a substantial grant and so the last few contenders can expect to have to work hard to develop convincing and detailed plans.

How much time will it take to apply and to complete the whole process?

The WCIT Charity wants to make this process as easy as possible for all applying charities. The initial application will be a simple two-page document. Only the chosen finalists will need to complete a full business plan and case for support. The award sum of up to £750,000 has the potential to kick-start a transformative project that could have a huge impact, and the judging panel will want to see evidence of this from all the finalists.

My organisation and project meet all key criteria, but require less than £750,000, can I still apply?

Yes. If your project is still a significant piece of work, but requires less funding, say £500,000, the WCIT Charity is happy to consider your application. For smaller grants, please look at the WCIT Charity’s regular grants programme: https://www.wcit.org.uk/apply_for_a_grant.html

The project I am planning will need to be delivered and funded over several years, can I still apply?

Yes. The WCIT Charity fully expects that in many cases the grant sum will best be split over several years to achieve the anticipated impact. Please note, however, that the winning project will need to demonstrate measurable impact within a three year timeframe.

What are the top tips for charities thinking of applying?

1) Apply only if you are eligible. 2) Consider carefully the application questions before applying. 3) The WCIT Charity reserves the right to close applications early if there is a lot of interest, so it is advisable to apply as soon as practicable.

Decision making

Should the WCIT Charity alone decide on the outcome of the award?

The final decision will be taken by the independent judging panel. The judging panel consists of members who are independent, diverse and with a broad range of skill and opinion. A minority of the judges are members of the WCIT. The judges all have charity sector experience, especially in areas relevant to the award. Finally, it is important to bear in mind that the prize fund has been compiled over time from the generosity of the WCIT Charity donors.

What weighting will be applied to the criteria?

The criteria published on the website clearly show what the judging panel will be looking for. The WCIT Charity has also published the application questions and will be publishing the application form before the awards  formally open.

If I know a member of the WCIT, or am a member, is this a conflict of interest if members are going to be voting?

No. The judging panel will be making the final decision based upon the quality of the applications, and taking into account feedback from the WCIT members.  The members of the WCIT are the donors of the grant award and so their views are important, but ultimately the independent judging panel will ensure that the most transformative and credible project is selected.

If you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact Lena Baumgartner at specialfund@wcit.org.uk