Tom Latchford

Creating a greater social impact

Tom Latchford, founder of Raising IT, has made it his life’s work to mobilise global wealth to create greater social impact. He tells us how he’s done it.

Tom Latchford

Tom Latchford, founder of Raising IT, has made it his life’s work to mobilise global wealth to create greater social impact. He tells us how he’s done it.

Many entrepreneurs find their drive and ambition from a single life event. For Tom Latchford it was the all-too early death of a close friend by suicide. He wanted a way to create meaning from the tragedy and decided to honour his memory by raising £1m.

His path, initially, was the conventional one: he ran marathons and ultra-marathons, collecting sponsorship, but he quickly realised this approach was an inefficient way to raise significant amounts and it was difficult to gain momentum. Harnessing digital technology was, he felt, key to helping charities unlock greater funding.

Just Giving had already paved the way, but Tom saw an opportunity to marry up the best technology companies with the non-profit sector to build something world-changing and world-class. Raising IT was his solution: a business that would build professional, mobile-responsive websites for UK charities. These websites integrated donations, fundraising events and social media tools, bringing experience, investment and bright technological minds to work out how to crack digital for charities.

From its launch in 2009 it became the largest provider of charity websites in the UK. In its early years, it was helped by £270,000-worth of funding from the Nominet Trust, which offered grants to charities to improve their websites through Raising IT.

At the time the market for impact investment was still very immature, but by 2014 this had changed. Tom said: “We had proved there was an opportunity and we needed significant capital to scale up. We raised around £1.8 million from venture capitalists and angels to scale the business and prove the model. It was a great time to seek investment."

He was careful when recruiting to bring in only those people who were driven by the group’s charitable goals. However brilliant their background, they needed to be committed to the charity space. For him personally, he found an energy and motivation none of his other ventures had given him.

“It was not just about creating a big business but about making the world a better place. There are thousands of fast-growing technology start-ups, but very few organisations that also have a social mission.” He sold the business in 2019 but remains involved with the company and an integral part of its ‘story’.

In parallel with Raising IT, he has also been running Joyful, a website, marketing and fundraising software company for charities operating across the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. He sold this to the Access group in 2019 and remains a director there.

Today, he has a range of other interests, all of them with a social or environmental purpose. He is the chairman of a theatre company, the Belarus Free Theatre, a refugee-led theatre company based at the Young Vic. He is also part of Hubbub, an environmental organisation focused on creating campaigns that make environmental action desirable.

Tom is clear that any future venture will have to have a social purpose: “Social purpose businesses allow you to create an impact more quickly. I spend my life working out how to create more impact. I want to mobilise the world’s wealth to create greater social impact.”

 
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