Tech for Social Good
Dec 9th, 10th 2021
In a world powered either visibly or invisibly by technology, many non-profit organizations dedicatedly labour towards the improvement of the lives of those people who are often invisible because they don’t matter to big business. That scenario has changed as markets expand with greater penetration of technology, increasing the vulnerability of people who are unfamiliar with and unprepared for the pace and type of change.
Are we, the non-profits, especially of Don Bosco South Asia, ready for the change? Are we equipped to respond and support those for whom we work? These were thoughts and questions that came up during the Tech for Social Good seminar designed and organized by Bosconet in Hyderabad on 9-10 December 2021. The prime task of Bosconet is building the capabilities of the planning and development offices (PDOs) of Don Bosco Network South Asia (DBNSA), and through the seminar addressed a very important and current need: learning how technology can impact social good. The executive directors of DBNSA participated in the fourth module capacity building program, which followed after the completion of 3 prior modules of capacity building programs for the staff of PDO offices of DBN-SA. The fourth module of Tech for Social Good was designed and coordinated by Fr. Noel Maddhichetty, Director, Bosconet along with Fr. Sanathanam Ubagaram, the assistant director of Bosconet.
Provincial Fr. Vijayabhaskar Thatireddy of the host Province of St Joseph, Hyderabad, reflected on the appropriateness of the seminar because Don Bosco considered himself a vanguard of progress in his time. An attribute that has since been associated with the Salesians and therefore, a legacy to be maintained.
In the segment Technology & Project Management, three resource persons presented various aspects of how technology could be used to improve strategies for leadership, governance, operations, process, and programmes of Don Bosco South Asia. Bosco Malapatti the CEO of UKKOTEKNIK proposed an end-to-end technological strategy to manage all the functions of the NGO, much like any other business organization, which would have a great impact on the quality of governance and delivery of services, also enhancing programmatic and financial reporting and transparency. These results would lead to greater trust and funding support from donor partners. Cheryl Bartholomeusz presented how BREADS, Don Bosco PDO in Kerala and Karnataka, was implementing customized CRM technology (Salesforce) to improve the tracking and reporting of programmes (sponsorship and skill training), and the quality and efficiency of project and volunteer management in the organization. She stressed the need for efficient systems of data management and reporting in Don Bosco India to fulfill the envisaged functions of the PDO according to development sector standards, and to serve the best interests of people through data-based advocacy. Anvesh Thirukovalluru CSR Head of E&Y Foundation presented tools used to gather and track information directly from the field that contributed greatly to improved programme implementation and reporting using dashboards. He presented cases of their education sponsorship and women empowerment (SHG) programmes across 3 states. He also advocated the need to develop information systems that could support consolidation and reporting of programme data.
Br Jean Paul Muller, Economer-General, Salesians of Don Bosco, addressing the Directors over a conference call from Rome, expressed satisfaction that Don Bosco India was getting together on a relevant current need. He said that the world has learned much from India and stressed the need to collaborate and present a unified Salesian Indian identity. He also reminded the members present, of the urgent need to change and adapt, to be able to respond relevantly to the needs of the young people today.
On the second day, focused on Technology & Resource Mobilization, Leo Fernandez the CEO of Talent Ease engaged the group in fundraising using technology. Through engrossing hands-on sessions, teams applied the important components of a powerful campaign (4 Ds, 5 Cs, IGNITE) to create fundraising campaigns and grab market share. He also brought attention to fundraising approaches: to move from what’s there or not there to what else could be there. Dhaval Udani, CEO of Danamojo, made a compelling data-backed case to turn NGO focus on individual donors as they contribute 50-60% of total funding. He presented the importance and effectiveness of a robust email marketing campaign backed by a well-designed integrated payment platform. He also explained the cost effectiveness and timelines for return on investment of various approaches. Both the resource persons on fundraising also emphasized the need to first create friends for the cause which would have long-term value, over short-term fund drives.
Salesian Regional Superior for South Asia, Fr. Biju Michael addressed the gathering over a conference call from Rome. He appreciated that the subject of the seminar was very much in line with the Church’s and Congregation’s stance of adopting and using modern technology for the good of people, enhancing the innovative interventions for the youth mission and protecting the environment.
Fr. Ricopar Rayan, National Director of Don Bosco Green Alliance, presented various green initiatives from the Tiruchy province towards climate action. He sought ideas and participation for more collaborative eco-friendly ventures from the Don Bosco Network South Asia forum. A certification process for green campuses and a large afforestation programme were suggested for consideration. The PDO directors pledged to plant a million trees across the Don Bosco Network before the 16th August, 2022, the birthday of Don Bosco. K. Chandrashekar of Unitech Solar Solutions shared the various options available for solar technology and the various solar installations done across the Don Bosco campuses.
The two days packed with valuable information and insights provided a lot to ponder and assimilate. Plans were proposed and some decisions reached. But no one left unimpacted by the issues presented in Tech for Social Good. And so, some seeds for equitable futures supported by technology were sown.
The Don Bosco Network in India comprises of 11 Planning and Development Organisations (PDOs), each dedicated to the development of the Salesian provinces they serve. The Don Bosco network is spread across 29 states and 354 NGOs, reaching more than 10 lakh people.