Keep proper journalism alive. It's time to Back the Cable
The Bristol Cable

The Bristol Cable wins grant funding for community tech

Funding to develop and democratise our in-house membership platform will come from Power to Change.

A blue and orange line drawing of people standing around a computer screen that says The Bristol Cable
Cable Community News

Is there a viable alternative to Big Tech? Well, yes, and it already exists in the form of countless smaller community platforms and companies. As the social power wielded by the tech industry has exploded over the last two decades, plenty of examples of grassroots tech projects have grown healthily alongside. You might not know that The Bristol Cable is one of them.

We’re excited to announce that the Cable has won funding to expand our community tech work, with a two-year grant of £40,000 from Power to Change, an independent trust that strengthens communities through community business.

This grant will allow us to continue the maintenance and development of our in-house membership and community engagement platform, and make it more accessible for other community organisations to use. The code is already open source, but this will mean we can ‘open source’ the processes around the software too.

It will also allow us to make improvements to other online services, such as our communications and mailouts aimed at community engagement.

Over the last few years, our Tech Lead Will Franklin has built and developed Beabee, a membership management platform. It is the software that allows us to store member data securely without the risk of it being sold to advertisers, and also powers our callouts to engage our members in editorial and operational questions.

Beabee is used by a number of other small newsrooms around Europe already, making it a community technology not only benefiting Bristol, but many other developers and communities.

Power to Change’s Community Tech grant is aimed not only at benefiting the organisations that win funding and those that reap the results directly, but also the wider technology ecosystem by driving forward innovative, beneficial and sustainable solutions for social technology. 

Independent. Investigative. Indispensable.

Investigative journalism strengthens democracy – it’s a necessity, not a luxury.

The Cable is Bristol’s independent, investigative newsroom. Owned and steered by more than 2,500 members, we produce award-winning journalism that digs deep into what’s happening in Bristol.

We are on a mission to become sustainable, and our first target is to raise our membership income by 50% within 12 months. Will you help us get there?

Join the Cable today

Power to Change launched the grant with the aim of “ensuring communities have access and ownership of technology that meets their specific needs, respects their autonomy and ensures more value is realised within a place”.

On what makes the Cable’s membership system a crucial example of successful community tech, they said:

[The Cable] found that off-the-shelf back-office software was too expensive, and also not suited to their needs. So they have been building their systems for membership management and democratic participation. In doing this, they will actively preserve members’ privacy by keeping all their data in-house, rather than on third-party platforms. This bespoke customer-relationship management (CRM) system is sustainable, community-driven, and fully accountable to its members.

Will, our Tech Lead, says: 

Our membership and engagement platform, built in-house, is a core component of the democratic engagement we have with our members. It allows us to engage with them directly, and simultaneously reach wider communities in the city, for example, through callouts allowing people to respond to questions such as ‘How is Bristol’s bus chaos affecting you?’ or ‘Should we do more culture, or news?’

The grant will allow us to continue this work, and build on our innovative, grassroots community tech work not only for Bristol, but for other community based organisations around the UK too.

As ever, we’d like to give a huge thank you to our members for your ongoing support and engagement with our work, and also to Power to Change for this generous grant that will allow us to continue serving our members and the people of Bristol with innovative technology.

If you’re not already a member of the Cable, you can find out about all the benefits of membership here.

Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?

Comments

Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Watch: Why you should back the Cable – in 60 seconds

A breakdown of all the things we've managed to achieve for Bristol in almost a decade of reporting.

We’re working to diversify the Cable team. Let’s start with our freelancer base

The Cable exists to challenge the structure of the media, but we are not representative enough of our city. Here’s what we’re doing to change things.

Listen: The Debrief, as seven Palestine Action activists are found guilty of criminal damage to Bristol’s ‘murder factory’

Cable journalists discuss covering the recent 'Elbit seven' trial, which brought into sharp focus a Bristol-based arms manufacturer’s role in supplying Israel’s war in Gaza.

Bristol councillors vote down Marvin Rees’ final budget after bad-tempered debate

The Greens came under fire for voting against Labour’s plans without providing alternative solutions. With councils going bankrupt elsewhere in the country, the stakes are high as Bristol prepares to ditch its mayoral system.

Bristol rogue trader slapped with criminal order after victims built dossier to expose him

Lewis Thomas, who operated anonymous carpentry businesses on social media, has six months to pay back £5,000 after pleading guilty to fraudulent practices.

High Court judge refuses to rule on whether Bristol Uni owed duty of care to student

The University of Bristol has lost its appeal in the discrimination case of Natasha Abrahart, who took her own life in 2018, but the case could have had more far reaching implications.

‘Hypocritical and unacceptable’: Leading climate academics call out Bristol Uni for accepting fossil fuel funding

Bristol University is an institution famed for its world-leading climate research. But over recent years it’s taken £3m from oil, gas and mining companies.

Listen: Kingswood locals care about everything but a ‘meaningless’ by-election

In this episode of our Area in Focus series, we explore how the border town’s high street is struggling and, thanks to boundary changes, it’s facing a political identity crisis

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning