THE impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for Scotland’s 24,000 registered charities who provide essential services and support so many people in our communities.

However, figures recently released by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations show that more than half of these charities, 62%, have had to reduce their activities because of the pandemic at a time when demand, in many instances, has increased.

What surprised us was to discover just how many charities are being run on nothing more than email and an Excel spreadsheet. Some of them don’t have digital platforms at all, while others find accessing any kind of IT resource a luxury they usually can’t afford. For charities who do have technical staff, many of them have been furloughed.

One of the reasons Alistair Forbes and myself set up the Scottish Tech Army (STA) was to assist Scotland’s charities and the Scottish Government with their response to Covid-19 challenges. Since we set up the STA on April 28, we’ve delivered and are working on dozens of projects right across Scotland.

Most of the technical problems we address are not big or flashy, but for non-technical charities they can be a massive barrier.

Thanks to our 850-plus army of talented and diverse volunteers who have joined us in the last seven weeks, we can run as a non-profit, not charging for our services and not competing with any commercial service providers.

READ MORE: How Scottish Tech Army is helping charities through coronavirus

It’s a really supportive community and I’ve never seen so many technology people get together so quickly. For our volunteers, many of whom are furloughed or have lost their jobs, the projects they’re working on give them a sense of purpose, knowing that their good work can help others during these challenging times.

We’ve also set up a number of mentoring schemes in the army so that volunteers have the opportunity to develop their technology skills.

READ MORE: Furloughed computer staff form tech 'army' to help charities with coronavirus

Ultimately, we want to help every STA volunteer to return to the workplace if they’ve lost their job. So we’ve recently launched an opportunity channel where people can list paid jobs, ideas for start-ups and internships or placements.

As we move into the economic recovery stage, the need for the digital support the STA can offer is likely to continue as the full economic effect of the pandemic begins to bite, the furlough scheme is extended and unfortunately we head towards the largest recession we’ve seen in our lifetimes.

Peter Jaco is the co-founder of the STA