TechCamp Chennai: Using Technology for Social Good

Technology is playing a key role in revolutionizing the social sector – from engaging donors in fundraising to communicating impact and from delivery of programs to evaluating impact.

Technology needn’t be expensive nor its usage difficult to comprehend. Technologists and large companies and foundations are working to provide low or no cost and scalable technological solutions for the non-profit sector. There also exists open source tools which are free of cost.

Yet, a majority of non-profits do not effectively utilize technology platforms either due to lack of access to the right personnel or lack of know-how.

Keeping this in mind, the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai in collaboration with Samhita Social Ventures and Global India Fund, sought to empower participants with new and emerging technology resources through TechCamp Chennai.  Over 65 leaders from the social sector, 13 university students and 10 technology experts attended the event on February 06, 2015 at Hotel Savera, Chennai.

TechCamp Chennai is a part of the U.S. State Department’s Civil Society (CS) 2.0 initiative that connects civil society organizations (CSOs) across the globe with new and emerging technology resources to solve real world challenges and build digital capacity.

The day started with a lively address from U.S. Consul General Chennai, Philip A Min, who emphasized, “Our goal today is to provide a forum in which non-profit organizations and NGOs can work with experts in technology to improve their digital literacy and find low and no cost online resources and applications.”

This was followed by Sriram Ayer, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of NalandaWay Foundation’s key note speech. He highlighted the importance of a website as a tool to reaching a wider audience as it will help organizations extend their services. Speaking on the effective use of technology to maximize impact, he said, “Today, it is a must for any community stakeholder in the country to be technologically updated.”

10 technology experts trained participants in the use of latest tech platforms to collect, represent and share data, raise awareness, enhance visibility, increase outreach, mobilize supporters and raise funds through crowd-funding, mapping and social media.

After quick ice-breakers, participants chose to be part of breakout sessions that they found most relevant to their requirements. Participants were broken up into 7 groups and proceeded to separate sessions with trainers who have had experience working with nonprofits. The themes of the breakout sessions were as follows:

  • Srini Swaminathan – Telling your story matters: Guide to effective crowd-sourcing
  • Kiruba Shankar – Who are you in the digital world?
  • Sorav Jain – A to Z of Facebook Advertising
  • Suneil Chawla – Insight into Digital Marketing
  • Siddharth Hande – Navigate your way to change: A session on mapping
  • Srinivasan Anandan – Technology as an enabler: Leveraging Microsoft tools
  • Alagunambi Welkin & Yogesh Girikumar – The world of free technology tools

The breakout sessions saw participants working together with technology experts to find solutions that could help them tackle challenges in their sectors.

TechCamp Chennai was a resounding success and a highly interactive event. The participants were not only empowered with new ideas and knowledge but also excited about the connections they had developed to access long-term mentoring and support.

Samhita’s role in TechCamp Chennai

Samhita Social Ventures was the implementation partner of the event. Our role included managing the program end-to-end – outreach to NGOs, event logistics, collateral creation, content for and development of website. We also worked to , identify experts and trainers for the event.