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Tech For Good – Feat. Neighbourly

We recently caught up with Alex West, Head of Tech at Neighbourly, an award-winning giving platform that helps businesses make a positive impact in their communities by donating volunteer time, money and surplus products, all in one place.

The purpose of the Tech For Good series of interviews is to create a platform that showcases and champions companies, products and technologists who are using technology as a force for positive change in the world.

Tareek @ ADLIB: Can you please introduce yourself, what your business does and what makes your business and offering unique and a force for good?

Alex: Hi I’m Alex, Head of Tech for Neighbourly. I’ve been a leader in technology and software engineering for the past decade. One interesting fact about me is my first degree was in Fine Art, but thankfully I wasn’t destined to become the next Damien Hirst. 

What makes our business Neighbourly unique and a force for good, is impact. Our platform enables a whole host of social and environmental efforts to be delivered into local communities to support and care for those in need. There are ‘tech for good’ companies who will calculate a company’s possible impact using data and statistics, our platform can be used by companies to create an impact for those in local communities who need it most. We’re connected through our network to tens of thousands of people who are experts in community action, so companies using our platform know they are making an actual difference in the world.

Tareek @ ADLIB: Can you share the story behind the origin of your business and Service / Product?

Alex: Neighbourly was founded back in 2014, becoming one of the founding UK B Corps the following year. The initial product was driven by the need to help community minded people raise awareness of their initiatives and gather support. We found national companies who served local communities didn’t know how best to deliver their environmental, social and corporate governance agendas. They were typically  partnering with national organisations and struggling with the complexity of scaling any sort of localised strategy. With our growing bank of local charities, good causes and CICs we were ideally placed to help  these businesses make local connections and have a real and tangible impact in the communities they serve.

Tareek @ ADLIB: Can you share some tech challenges or barriers you had to overcome to create a Product / Service offering with potential, whilst remaining ‘for good’?

Alex: When deciding on the technology and partners we use we don’t just consider the financial impact, i.e. how much it costs, but also the social and environmental cost. We choose who we partner with very carefully. ADLIB is our first choice in recruitment as being a fellow B Corp they understand our values. Similarly, we ask our all partners to strive for the same or higher standard, and prove they are committed to making the world a better place.

Balancing the “triple bottom line” was one of the things that attracted me to Neighbourly, as it’s something I feel is very important in securing a future for the generations to come.

So yes, while it may be easier and cheaper to go with a big name, if that big name is negatively contributing to the world at large in either an environmental or social context we will find alternative services no matter how competitively they are priced.

Tareek @ ADLIB: Why do you think is it a growing trend for tech professionals to seek out opportunities to work in purpose-driven businesses?

Alex: I think it’s always been there, but the growth and variety over the last decade in purpose-driven businesses has allowed professionals to have that choice. Back at the start of the millennium, my view on purpose-driven businesses was that they were few and far between, and mostly centred around the charity and public sectors. Now with the likes of B Corps and other frameworks it’s easier to find organisations that not only tout “purpose” but who are also independently audited for their claims. The growth of popularity for these frameworks and the communities that support them is giving tech professionals a different choice to the Googles and Facebooks of the last decade.

Tareek @ ADLIB: What has been the key thing you’ve learned about ‘tech for good’ and your target audience specifically?

Alex: With Neighbourly, our network of charitable organisations need our help more than ever. All businesses have to have an environmental, social and corporate governance agenda to survive the next decade (and for the planet to survive the next century). Our offering contributes to that agenda with an output that creates measurable impact. Thousands of local charities around the UK use our platform to coordinate, organise and access fundraising, volunteers and surplus donations. We report on how they’ve impacted their local communities and feed that back to businesses, in the form of a social and environmental return on investment. Together with the good causes we facilitate actual positive change for the local communities they live in. For me there’s ‘tech for good’ where they have goals for a better world and may get there, but Neighbourly is sitting in the ‘tech for impact’ space, where every single day our platform is making the world a better place.