Securing investment is a key part of starting a digital inclusion programme. This step by step guide to securing investment in your digital inclusion programme is written by experts in the field and can help you get the investment you need.
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Six steps to securing investment
1 - Make your initial case for investment
Once you’ve done some research, and have understood the local need, there’s then the question of funding the work. This includes funding for getting started and in the longer term. The first step to achieving this is to make the initial case for investment.
As part of starting a digital inclusion programme, it is recommended that you have strong governance arrangements in place. The people or board in charge of delivering the programme should consider writing a report, making the case for the return on investment that could be achieved. It should be made clear that the goals cannot be reached without sufficient funding.
By making your case for funding to achieve the goals of the programme, tied into the goals of the wider organisation, you should hopefully gain the investment needed. Step 2 goes further into achieving this, writing business cases.
2 - Write business cases
Securing investment can be challenging, as it is difficult to identify direct savings resulting from investments.
Start by writing a business case that sets out a baseline for the potential benefits of digital inclusion, to individuals and the wider geographical area and economy. As examples you could state that digital inclusion leads to:
- higher earnings
- more people in employment
- time and cost savings
- savings to the NHS and social care
- improved outcomes and increased self-sufficiency for individuals
You may not be able to secure investment based on prevention and cost avoidance alone. You may need to focus on the wider benefits of digital inclusion.
How other councils have done it
It’s always useful to find out what other councils have done. We spoke to a number of the leading digital inclusions councils on how they set up and funded their programmes. Find out more by reading our page on how to source funding and structure your digital inclusion team.
An example from housing
As an example, you may receive funding from the housing department. This could be to help them achieve some of their goals, such as increasing the number of clients interacting with housing online.
Housing tenants and other citizens who are digitally excluded are also likely to:
- be unemployed or on a low income
- be chronically ill or disabled
- have low literacy levels
- be from lower socio-economic groups
Digital inclusion can therefore help to tackle poverty and reduce inequalities. The investment from housing into your digital inclusion programme could see people:
- achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes
- improve their financial capability and employment prospects
- reduce their social isolation
By increasing digital inclusion in this way you could realise benefits across a range of indicators.
3 - Evidence the return on investment
To fully evidence the return on investment into your digital inclusion programme, you should record the impact on:
- their families
- local communities
- the wider geographical area and economy
It is possible to model savings and the potential additional economic benefits of digital inclusion for citizens, including:
- cost and time savings
- gains in earnings and employment
- savings to the NHS from increased health and wellbeing
4 - Champion digital inclusion as a strategic priority
For digital inclusion to be a success and attract funding from other departments and outside organisations, it needs to be promoted and seen as a strategic priority.
Positioning digital inclusion as a strategic priority could unlock funding to deliver a range of goals, including:
- a dedicated team to manage and coordinate the programme
- strategic support from external organisations to build the skills of the team to ensure sustainability of the programme
- expand any pilot schemes, such as tablet lending
For more on how to seek funding from other council departments, go to our article on how to source funding and structure your digital inclusion team.
5 - Continue with your governance arrangements
Continuing with the governance arrangements should help you to achieve initial and ongoing investment. If you have set up a scrutiny board, they should produce annual reports, detailing the investments and the returns achieved.
This should reassure funders from within your organisation and elsewhere that appropriate programme governance and oversight is in place.
For more please read our article on evaluating a digital inclusion programme.
6 - What you could achieve by securing investment
These examples from 100% Digital Leeds show some of the goals you can reach by securing investment in a digital inclusion programme. The funding enabled them to:
- create a dedicated digital inclusion team to coordinate the programme and build a digital inclusion network across Leeds
- launch an expanded tablet lending scheme
- introduce grants for community organisations to reduce the barriers to digital inclusion
- expand free council wifi into 20 community buildings
- work with an external supplier for strategic support to build our digital inclusion network, embed sustainability and evidence return on investment
For more, take a look at our investment case study from 100% Digital Leeds.