Empowering Change: How Makers & Maintainers are transforming community technology

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This blog shares highlights from conversations between ‘Makers & Maintainers’ community tech programme grantees, and the programme evaluator, inFocus.
1 Mar, 2024
Margarida Pimenta

Margarida Pimenta

Senior Evaluation and Learning Consultant at inFocus

In an era where technology intertwines with every aspect of our lives, it becomes increasingly vital to foster community-driven technological solutions that move the focus from big tech to empowering local strengths and expertise that foster innovationRecognising how funding shapes community tech solutions is key to amplifying their potential to be impactful and sustainable. Read on for some insights from the Makers and Maintainers grantees.

The role of funding in community tech development 

Funding isn’t just about money; it can be a catalyst for innovation and problem-solving. Grantees highlighted how the funding has been pivotal in resource allocation, for example, through hiring specialists such as developers and coders to tackle technical challenges and maintain platforms, particularly during more challenging periods like organisational shifts. It’s not just about “keeping the lights on” but about empowering organizations to scale, be reliable, and stay updated with the latest technology trends such as open-source releases. 

Another important highlight was the role of funding in fostering essential relationships. From attending enriching workshops to facilitating partnerships with like-minded organizations and universities, the funding has been the bridge connecting different entities for a common goal. For some grantees, these collaborations have not only enhanced innovation but also increased outputs significantly, for example, one organisation mentioned establishing new drop-off points for its tech-refurbishing operation. 

“Without the funding, we would have struggled to justify spending significant time on the platform. The funding allowed us to maintain and update the platform, even though we still couldn’t dedicate as much time as we would have liked due to organisational changes.” 

The role of funding in community business  

The funding played a pivotal role in supporting more thorough planning and flexibility in pursuing long-term organisational goals. Some of the benefits mentioned by grantees include: 

  • Feeling less pressured. 
  • Being able to improve decision-making. 
  • Allocating and redirecting resources more effectively. 
  • Enhancing engagement and visibility in the community tech sector. 
  • Fostering a sense of community and emotional buffer.   

At the heart of these advancements lies capacity building. The financial support from the funding has managed to unlock learning opportunities for teams and aided in hiring talent to address knowledge gaps. It enabled organizations to engage in content-sharing trials, technology optimization, and confidence building within the community sector. 

“The funding has enabled us higher uptime and improved performance, which is crucial given the sensitive nature of the services we’re providing.” 


Participants taking part in a group activity at our Manchester Autumn Gathering. Photo: Roseanna Dias
Challenges and learning experiences 

Since receiving the funding, grantees have navigated a spectrum of challenges and learning experiences.  

A significant challenge has been balancing session attendance with business and personal commitments. While there was a strong appreciation for community interaction, some grantees voiced concerns about the tendencies to host programme activities in certain geographical locations leading to certain grantees preferring to engage online as a more accessible alternative to travel. Another challenge mentioned was the level the resources provided were pitched at. Given the diversity of grantees some have found them to be either too superficial for advanced needs or overly specific for general use. Time constraints have also impacted their ability to contribute more actively to broader efforts, such as the Community of Practice. 

“The concept of open working was beneficial, though committing to it weekly was challenging due to our work patterns, however, it provided tools to communicate complex projects and encouraged a more transparent decision-making process.” 


The journey of the Makers & Maintainers highlights the transformative role of funding in community tech. Beyond financial aid, it’s a catalyst for innovation, collaboration, and capacity building. While grantees faced challenges like balancing commitments and measuring impact, these experiences are valuable stepping stones for future growth. This initiative underscores the potential of community tech to foster more connectedness and empowerment, and reminds us of the importance of continuous learning, adaptability, and collaboration. 

Photos: Participants taking part in a group activity at the Manchester Autumn 23 Gathering. 
Top photo: Anna Hamilos, bottom photo: Roseanna Dias.