Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation announce ‘Explore’, a new early stage digital funding strand, in partnership with CAST

20th May 2020

Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation announce ‘Explore’, a new early stage digital funding strand, in partnership with CAST

Tailored support to help charities accelerate the development of digital solutions Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation are pleased to announce that they are adding a new early stage strand, Explore(opens in new window), to their Tech for Good funding initiative.

The Tech for Good programme was developed in response to the emerging need for charities to use technology to explore different approaches to delivering better services. The Explore programme will help charities to scope a digital solution to improve outcomes for the people they support, and to build the skills to develop a strong, user-led approach to digital service delivery.

Funded by Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the programme will be delivered by digital service design support partner CAST.

The £230,000 Explore programme will allow charities to engage in a 12-week learning journey to scope out the kinds of digital services they might provide and to explore how digital technology could transform the ways they work. The programme includes grants of £5,000 for individual organisations, or £7,500 for collaborations.

It will offer organisations the chance to:

  • Identify the user need they are trying to address

  • Examine whether a digital solution is the best idea

  • Identify the key implications of implementing a new solution

  • Design a prototype which can be tested and made ready for further development

  • Look at how it might be possible to obtain funding for further work.

The application process is open to UK charities and not-for-profit organisations with incomes of between £75,000 and £10 million, and applications should address one of the following core issue areas - A Safe Place To Be, Fighting For Gender Justice, Children Survive and Thrive, and Global Mental Health Matters. More information on these themes is available (opens in new window)here(opens in new window).  Applications addressing challenges related to disability outside of the themes specified above are also welcome, acknowledging the critical potential of digital technology in tackling this issue.

40 to 50 grants are expected to be awarded. Applications open on 20th May, and close on 22nd June 2020. Applicants should visit the CAST website(opens in new window) for full details and a link to the application form

Organisations will receive a flexible and tailored package of support, including access to an online curriculum, one-to-one support calls, and virtual community meet-ups. 

The new strand of funding follows a period of learning, listening and reflection by Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation after co-funding the fourth round of Tech for Good in 2019.

It also draws on CAST’s experience of providing support to charities in the development of digital services, including on the Tech for Good initiative. In light of COVID-19, this fund is especially relevant now as organisations seek to respond to a new context.

The Explore programme forms part of a wider digital journey. In advance of the programme, applicants should be able to identify key service redesign needs and challenges. Applicants are welcome to participate in CAST’s free Design Hop course(opens in new window), which will help identify these needs.

The initiative also aims to put organisations in a better position to apply for further social tech funding, for example to the wider Tech for Good fund(opens in new window), which the funders plan to launch in late 2020. Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said:

“Tech for Good was developed to support charities to deliver better services for their communities through technology. We could hardly have known at the time just how transformational an acceleration was around the corner and how much more relevant this programme would feel as a result.  We hope the introduction of our new Explore strand will give charities the space and support they need to transition to digital service delivery, bridging the digital divide and continuing to connect to the people and communities that need them most.”

Ruth Davison, Chief Executive, Comic Relief, said:

“Our Tech for Good initiative, co-funded with Paul Hamlyn Foundation since 2017, is continuously evolving to ensure it meets the needs of organisations and the people they support. We're excited to announce Explore, our new funding strand, which will give organisations the crucial time and head-space to scope how a digital approach can be best utilised in their service delivery, a need exacerbated by the current context. We are also excited to be working with CAST and Catalyst to deliver Explore, complementing the work being carried out by them and tapping into their excellent networks of practice to support sustainable and meaningful change.”

Dan Sutch, Director, CAST, said:

"It’s fantastic to be able to work with Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation on this new programme. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that charities have access to the advice and support needed to develop high quality digital services. We look forward to directly working with charities as part of Explore and connecting them to the wider Catalyst network of support.” NOTES TO EDITORS

For further details on previous grant recipients of the Tech for Good programme, please visit the Tech for Good hub(opens in new window). About Tech for Good Tech for Good supports not-for-profit organisations who are using technology to deliver new ideas and make their services more effective. Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation have co-funded three successful rounds of their UK Tech for Good programme in partnership since 2017. In 2019, we confirmed a new three-year partnership that renewed our commitment to supporting not for profit organisations who use technology to deliver new ideas and make their services more effective, with funding totalling £2.4 million over the partnership period.

About Comic Relief

Comic Relief is a UK charity which aims to create a just world, free from poverty - where everyone is safe, healthy, educated and empowered. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1.25 billion. That money has helped, and is helping, people living incredibly tough lives, both here at home in the UK and across the world.

For further information about Comic Relief and the work it carries out, please visit

About Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Paul Hamlyn Foundation was established by Paul Hamlyn in 1987. Upon his death in 2001, he left most of his estate to the Foundation, creating one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the UK.

Our mission is to help people overcome disadvantage and lack of opportunity, so that they can realise their potential and enjoy fulfilling and creative lives. We have a particular interest in supporting young people and a strong belief in the importance of the arts. in new window) About CAST

At CAST(opens in new window), we help people use digital for social good. Our mission is to create a more responsive, resilient and digitally-enabled social sector. We do this by supporting nonprofits to embed digital and design across their services, strategy and governance, and working with sector leaders, funders and government to make this happen. 

Our current programmes include Design Hops(opens in new window), helping charities redesign services for digital access; Coffee Connections(opens in new window), connecting peers across the charity network and Digital Candle(opens in new window), providing charities with an hour of free digital advice. CAST is a proud member and incubator of Catalyst(opens in new window), a charitable network which helps the voluntary sector strengthen its digital capabilities. in new window)

For press information please contact:

Dalia Abu Yassien, Partnership Manager: Social Tech, Comic Relief in new window) | 02078202066


Helen Bayer, Communications Assistant, Paul Hamlyn Foundation | 07845446520 or

Sonya Hayden, Communications Manager, CAST | 07515 364828