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Tech that allows us to re-focus on what matters

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Written by Annabel Dickson on Thursday, August 10th, 2017

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Nowadays it seems that the later you stay in the office, the harder you’re seen to be working and therefore the more successful and passionate you are. As Beth Kanter so acutely observes in her article about non profit workplace culture, it’s not uncommon for charities to work in ‘Crisis Mode’ and create a culture of stress. This could be because you work with people who are vulnerable and absorb some of that, or you put the work above your own self care. If you’re in this situation you likely feel as if to take time off is to let the team down.

At Makerble one of the major issues we find most charities feel they face is the time to achieve everything that they want to achieve, to do everything you want to do; and it seems that the determination to drive ourselves hard is contagious - we are all of us forever ‘busy’.

So what do we do when we feel as if this is the case? When we are struggling to justify to ourselves the value of time off? Beth’s solution is to weave self care into your workday and Sasha Dichter also chimes in, arguing the “discipline of self-restoration” is critical to work.

“True social change work, work through which we apply ourselves fully in service of others, requires us to show up differently. It requires us to do deep work on ourselves – the work of self-reflection that leads to self-knowledge that ultimately results in a progressively deeper exploration of purpose.” -- Sasha Dichter

Sasha describes how people dedicated to helping those in need take on more emotional risk than in other sectors as what they are working towards is deeply connected to their personality. Yes: we’re people full of passion, working towards ambitious social missions. This can take an enormous toll on us as individuals if we aren't careful and make space for our own well-being.

So the question for us at Makerble is how can we use technology to make life for all of us much easier? To free up some more time so that the discipline of leaving work on time for example is easier to achieve. If you work at a charity and you’re using wonderful, beautiful spreadsheets one the one hand, with images stored somewhere else and the information for different projects stored in lots of different spreadsheets or on a clunky crm that everyone hates to use and then someone asks for a summary of the last two years work; what’s your reaction? We know that as you read this a large percentage of you will be groaning in pain.

Why? Why does something simple have to be so hard?

In the report “Technology for Good: Innovative use of technology by charities” published by TechSoup and The Guardian in 2013 it is stated that “86% of charity employees consider mobile technology as an essential tool” You can read the report here. One of the major benefits was that it saves time. We know - counter-intuitive hey? Because how many of us have been involved in the labour intensive setting up of systems that didn’t work? Us too.

Our initial findings are that the impact tracker as it stands in it’s beta phase can save project managers up to half the time they would usually spend on data collection. Why? Because it’s easy to use and can, if you wish, involve all teams in the organisation because it’s *fun*.

Essentially we’ve designed a website combined with an easy to use mobile app which allows you to collect all important data at one place. Through an account on our website you have a neatly arranged overview of all the projects your charity is constantly working on as well as your progress towards your goals. This feature allows managers who currently use Makerble to save half of the time they spent on data collection before. Volunteers and other staff in the field use our mobile app to follow their impact and keep their managers updated. This way charities receive real time data. Everybody can log on their progress, view what other people achieved and what the organisation is working towards. Being able to see what their peers do reveals another hidden benefit of Makerble: it can double the productivity of volunteers.

Mobile and web technology provides charities with great opportunities to track and measure their impact in the world and at the same time it frees up managers and staff; and we think that a useful way to spend that free time is on making sure you bake in some self care to work. Because we need you to be around for the long run until we can all change the world.

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