Helen Milner: We make good things happen, so this name just made sense
As they celebrate the landmark of helping 2 million people develop basic online skills, CEO of Good Things Foundation Helen Milner OBE speaks to PoliticsHome about her charity's decision to rebrand from Tinder Foundation.
Earlier this year, a board member from Tinder Foundation was approached to become a non-executive director of a dating app. Which would have been an ideal appointment, had the recruiters not confused Tinder Foundation with Tinder, the popular dating app.
This, CEO Helen Milner explains, was not the only time the names were confused. “Whenever I went to have meetings, receptionists always asked me in a really excited way ‘are you from Tinder?’ And I have to say ‘No, not that Tinder’, and they look really disappointed.”
And although this was sometimes a fun way to break the ice, the name began to get in the way of the charity having serious conversations about the impact they’re having.
And so this month, the organisation decided it was time to rebrand and change their name to Good Things Foundation.
The name came easily to the charity. When it was suggested. It just made sense and resonated.
“We make good things happen and it’s also about how absolutely 100% of our DNA is about helping others and having a positive impact, but that positivity really resonates. The impact that we have on more than 2 million lives is about being a force for good, about being a social movement for good.”
Although their name has changed, the charity will carry on doing the same great work, it also provided an opportunity for them to refresh their focus. This year they have also become a registered charity - one of the first mutual organisations to do so.
“The catalyst for the new name was changing away from the dating app, but when we started the process we found lots of good reasons for us to see an opportunity. To refresh and restate our strategy.”
Good Things Foundation has already helped 2 million people, but the charity will continue this work; breaking down barriers that prevent people from getting into work, communicating with friends and family and accessing goods and services.
“It’s significant that our name doesn’t talk about digital and technology because we are very much a social inclusion charity. Our main focus is around helping people who are excluded from opportunities – benefits, society and other people – because they don’t know how to use the internet.”
In an example of how digital can change lives, Ms Milner recounted a recent encounter: “There was a man whose daughter moved to Cornwall and she said she had only been able to make the move because he had learned how to use the internet. She bought him an iPad and now they Skype every day, making sure they are in touch with each other.”
And now the charity has helped 2 million people, what’s next for them, apart from celebrating the achievement and congratulating those with incredible stories to tell?
“We are going to keep on helping as many people as possible. We want to try and support another 2 million people so we’re not resting on our laurels. We are very much focused on those hardest to reach, and those who are often being left behind.
“We are also focusing on the other challenges they face in their life – financial literacy or health or English language – so that we don’t just help them learn how to use the internet but how to use the internet for them and the challenges they are facing in their lives.”
Although stakeholders, partners and employees agree the rebrand is a good idea, there is just one negative.
Ms Milner will no longer have strangers tell her how they met their partner on Tinder, which she says she always found “quite nice”.
In the months to come, Ms Milner said the Government’s Digital Economy Bill, which will legislate to make sure everybody in the country has basic digital skills, will have a significant impact.
“We are absolutely expecting to be part of the infrastructure to help deliver that, so that’s actually really exciting. This is the first time ever there’s been actual legislation around digital exclusion.”
She said policymakers are now beginning to understand that digital is a really important part of their plans and their implementation, but they need to work with organisations like Good Things Foundation to make sure they actually reach everyone they need to.
“Obviously the people who are most likely to be digitally excluded are also the people who are likely to use public services the most, because people with the most challenging lives use more public services than those with less challenging lives.
“The realisation that everybody is not like us is disproportionately important to policy makers. If you’re well educated and you’ve got a good job then you’re going to be using the internet and the converse is also true.
“If you haven’t had a great time at school and you don’t have good qualifications and you have no job then you’re much more likely to be offline, and that’s incredibly important for policy makers to understand.”