The impact of emerging technology on charities

Manifesto’s ‘The Future Charity‘ report includes an interesting graph about the impact of technology on the charity sector.

The technology considered to have the most impact is ‘alternative payments’, which doesn’t seem like a technology on the scale of Machine Learning or Internet of Things. Maybe its a result of knowledge about the tech and/or how close and direct the impact feels.

But, perhaps the most important thing to consider is that none of these technologies exist in isolation, it isn’t like one is going to impact charities more or less, because actually all of them are going to change society, which changes the lives of charity beneficiaries.

So the question isn’t how autonomous vehicles are going to affect charities, but how autonomous vehicles are going to put lots of already low paid people out of work, and so how are charities going to help those people?

Technology is often promoted as a democratising force; just look at how the printing press gave knowledge to everyone, but the application of technology isn’t neutral. In an unequal society it is used to increase inequality.

So, if we’re thinking about how emerging technology affects charities, the really big question is, what does a world with all these technologies look like? Only then can we begin to think about charity’s roles in that world.