Martha Lane Fox founded Antigone in 2007. Antigone works with a small number of charities each year, learning more about the needs of socially excluded people so that we can help promote their successes to ministers and the press. We work in alliance with a number of other funders, organisations and people to make these changes happen and are keen to promote areas of philanthropy and activism that are currently unfashionable and underfunded.

Antigone is closed for any further grant applications for the remainder of 2013.

Interesting excerpt from the Institute of Philanthropy's New Paper

Social media, like traditional media, are fundamentally tools for communication, and their capabilities and forms will continue to evolve. Unlike previous media channels, however, which tended to be the tools of corporations and governments, they are widely accessible and generally cheap to use by ordinary people. They break down traditional information power structures by circumnavigating the barriers that people previously had to negotiate to get their message across, whilst giving them direct access to information and conversations with other individuals.

In 1876, chief engineer to the British post office, Sir William Preece, said: “the Americans have need for the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys”. Predictions about the value and impact of social media in the distant future are similarly fraught with difficulties. We have too little knowledge about the conditions in the world to come, or the potential uses that will be found for these tools in future society, to make straightforward predictions. 

What can be said with confidence is that these tools are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. We are in the throes of a transition in communications as great as that from telegraph to telephone, print to radio, or radio to television. Just as the commercial world is embracing them, so the social sector must too. The rules are slightly different for organisations dealing not with commercial markets but with the most vulnerable, underprivileged and marginalised in our society, but nevertheless there are few organisations that have not already been touched by these tools, and still fewer that can afford to ignore them.

Communications have changed, with the growing noise levels in our society making it harder and harder to broadcast messages to passive audiences. not-for-profits will need to follow the examples of the commercial world in finding ways to create experiences that people will talk about, tapping into networks to spread messages to active and engaged communities. So too they will need to follow the commercial world in embracing customer feedback online, offering services in more innovative ways, and tapping into new channels and models for receiving money. They will also need to find ways to deal with the growing pressures on organisations themselves posed by an operating environment in which staff are more connected, beneficiaries can talk to each other, and campaigners can raise issues at national levels without the need for support from any authority.

The not-for-profit sector, however, should be in a position to benefit from these tools more than any other area of society. People are using social media to talk about the things that matter to them, and good campaigns and social causes should find it much easier to engage audiences and encourage supporters to advocate for them than shoe manufacturers and drinks companies. Social media tools give more power to ordinary people, and most ordinary people care about the world they live in. The opportunity for organisations with good causes and powerful messages to scale up their efforts and build movements has never been greater.

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