Matt Haworth is the co-founder of Reason Digital – a social enterprise that makes the web make a difference. The company works only on projects that do social good. Matt has spent 10 years getting results for not-for-profit organisations using digital. He has worked on hundreds of projects and campaigns, and reached tens of thousands of people with his talks at national conferences. 34SP.com caught up with Matt to find out about his talk at WordCamp and what is means to ‘do good with digital’.
Matt – you are committed to ”doing good with digital”. How did you come to be interested in working with charities online? Give us a bit of background on your path that got you here.
When you grow up with computers and the web you grow up believing that things can always be made better, that you can change things. I think that’s what led me to an interest in activism as a teenager and, later, charities and other organisations that focus on social good, rather than profits. I love working with open source and with the community around open source because I feel like we all have that same, shared belief in change and progress.
How did you get involved with the WordPress community? What role does WordPress play in your day to day activities?
WordPress, to me, is a liberator. We often work with small-to-midsize charities that are locked into proprietary CMSes created by well intentioned, but under resourced web dev agencies or freelancers. We use WordPress to give them control of their site back, and the freedom to work with whoever they want without ongoing licensing fees. Be that us, another agency, or a volunteer. That said, part of the power of WordPress since v3 is it’s ability to be used as a framework for bigger projects. We’ve launched larger charity sites now, such as Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new site which went live last week.
Over the past 10 years you founded Reason Digital and have worked on hundreds of charity projects and campaigns, and reached tens of thousands of people. Are there any projects that stand out from what you have done? Why are those the standouts? Tell us the stories of those amazing projects please.
Sometimes the standout moments are not the websites themselves, but the people you meet making them. People with locked-in syndrome at the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability that you can stand there and talk to thanks to assistive technologies. Activists putting their lives on the line documenting government corruption (often on WordPress sites, actually). When you’re tucked up in bed there will be people, for no pay at all, that are driving around making sex worker’s cups of tea and checking they’re okay. When working on charitable causes gets depressing – because it can – those are the people I think of, that’s what keeps me in this instead of turning away from everything that’s wrong in the world. Speaking of which, one project I’m working on at the moment is a mobile app that allows sex workers to instantly exchange reports of harassment or violence with others nearby so they can be safer without relying on third parties like the police whom they often mistrust. We’ve also got some really big fundraising projects on the go at the moment, too, but sadly I’m not allowed to talk about those yet. Watch this space!
What will you be presenting at WordCamp London? Give us a sense of what we’ll be hearing about – and who will benefit most from your expertis.
I’ve had the privilege to lend a hand to some inspiring people that are working to change the world. I’m sharing what I’ve learned from them about what you need to do to change the world, and showing you how we, and others, have used WordPress to help them do it. Anyone with an interest in getting involved in social change will enjoy the talk, but there’s going to be some techie tips and example projects throwing in there too so it should also appeal to those with a pure WordPress design or development interest. Don’t expect code…PHP, hex, or otherwise. I’ll be talking about applying WordPress within the context of charities and campaigns not the nuts and bolts of how to create websites.
Anything else you want to specifically promote at this time? Anything that you want to add?
We’re always looking for talented WordPress folk at Reason Digital, based in Manchester, UK. Especially people with PHP skills. So if you’d like to get paid to help us make the world a better place, instead of making some rich guys slightly richer, then get in touch with us at: http://www.reasondigital.com/get-in-touch!