Why DTLA finalist cloudThing released £1 million of free IP to the charity sector

Tom Allen
clock • 3 min read

CTO Fran Thomas says cloudThing is "an ethical business aiming to achieve positive social impact through technology"

Software development, digital transformation and DevOps support services company cloudThing has just released more than £1 million worth of intellectual property to the nonprofit sector - for free - to help these organisations effectively build a modern CRM system. On top of this, the company is a three-category finalist in the upcoming Digital Technology Leaders Awards. We talked to CTO Fran Thomas about how and why the company undertook such a massive project.

CloudThing's ethics play into its work heavily - one of the reasons it managed to reach the shortlist for Best Place to Work in Digital - SMEs. Thomas says, "We are an ethical business with the aim of achieving positive social impact through technology. We work with disruptive EdTech organisations, start-ups, charities and public sector organisations to build the future...

"Over 50 per cent of our work is from registered charities; we really believe in picking our clients as much as they pick us. Our developers work closely with the clients, and we often form development ‘cells' made up of client and cloudThing resources. This means we have to be totally transparent, so the client is bought into what we're doing, while cloudThingers are bought into the client's mission."

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These organisations often require significant support, and that's where cloudThing comes in. Its IP release is just the latest example of its work with third sector organisations - but it has, of course, added to the company's workload:

"With the release of the nonprofit IP, for free, comes a lot more requests for support and maintenance of the code. This has meant we're having to adapt our business to work with much smaller organisations than we normally would. Ensuring our development and DevOps team can handle this, whilst giving our usual service, is a priority."

Despite this higher workload, Thomas is optimistic about the future. He says cloudThing, like other technology firms, has fared well in the pandemic, and is now looking for ways it can help other organisations achieve similar success:

"Technology companies have fared better than many industries, and cloudThing is no different. We were already operating a flexible working model, so the shift to full home-working was fairly painless. We also work with our clients to ensure they can receive our services remotely, so our clients were largely unaffected in terms of technology. The impact on some of our sectors, such as nonprofits, has seen projects or priorities change, as Covid has exposed some operational weaknesses that technology can address."

As well as Best Place to Work in Digital, cloudThing is up for Development Team of the Year - and Thomas himself is on the shortlist for CTO of the Year. He says, "Events like the Digital Technology Awards are a great way to recognise peers and celebrate the work across the sector. While we may compete, more and more partnering with organisations and sharing knowledge is becoming the norm. We love networking and sharing whatever we can, and awards allow us to meet and mix with people who we may not get the chance to do so otherwise."

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