LiTS: Light Touch Data and Technology Support

What is Light Touch Support?

Our Light Touch Support (LiTS) program supports organisations that have ideas for using technology or data to make their work more effective, but are unsure about how to do so.

We provide partners with concise, targeted advice and bespoke support. Each light-touch support partnership starts with an idea and ends with a plan.

How do we do this?

  1. First, we learn as much as we can about the organisation, their idea for using technology or data, and the system they are working to change.
  2. Then, we research similar projects, the partner’s context, and individuals/organisations within our network who might be beneficial for the light-touch support partner to get in touch with.
  3. We synthesise our findings and reconnect with the light-touch support partner, sometimes assigning them ‘homework’ to do on their own.
  4. When appropriate, we publish our findings from scoping an issue, our tools research, and useful case study development or decision-making frameworks. If an area is particularly important but lacks existing resources, we invest in building robust, publicly available documentation for others facing similar challenges.

Who asks for our support?

We work with organisations that vary widely in terms of technical backgrounds, motivation and geographic location. Some partners are technically savvy, and want specific, targeted advice, while others are less familiar with digital strategies and data processes but eager to learn.

All of the partners we work with are driven by a mission to effect positive social change, typically within Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. They challenge systemic injustice, empower communities and are building towards a more equitable future.

What support do we offer?

We provide help with specific, discrete projects, as well as broader organisational or community-related issues. Our support is tailored to meet the specific needs of each partner. However, we frequently work with partners to:

  • Deepen their understanding of technical systems and platforms
  • More robustly understand the problems they’re seeing solutions for, ensuring that they’re not replicating harmful power structures
  • Make decisions about data and technology that are in-line with their organisational values
  • Connect with organisations and communities facing similar challenges

Why do partners ask for our support?

Since The Engine Room was founded, we have found when activists and organisations have questions about whether and how to work with data and technology, they almost always want to talk to a person. A PDF guide on its own is rarely enough.

Our partners see light touch support as the right amount of support, at the right time. For them, it is a relatively low time investment, with huge potential savings in comparison with going it alone. They get:

  • Quick, direct access to resources that would be otherwise be hard to find.
  • Introductions to peer organisations with lessons to share about similar projects.
  • A perspective on the landscape of related projects, and how their project fits in.
  • Tough questions to help them identify blindspots.
  • Cost-saving tips and warnings about potential pitfalls.
  • Introductions to terms and language that can help shape project design and technical confidence.
  • An open invitation to follow up with The Engine Room as their idea moves forward.