By Lee Mannion
LONDON, Feb 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Former Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason has joined a growing list of celebrities investing in businesses that aim to address social problems - by backing a social media tool that helps charities reach a wider audience.
Mason, 74, a founding member of the British rock group, and retired British racing driver Dario Franchitti have helped provide funding of 4 million pounds ($5.6 million) for Lightful, a platform aiming to tackle negativity surrounding social media.
"Many charities have been hampered by time consuming tasks and budget constraints which inhibit progress," Mason said in a statement.
Franchitti, 44, a four time IndyCar Series champion, said this was needed as media was changing rapidly.
"It's vital that charities learn to connect with their audiences in a way which is simple, yet effective," he said in a statement.
Vinay Nair, co-founder of Lightful, said technology was a way to strengthen relationships with people.
"Charities and social enterprises have some of the best stories to tell, and we are excited that Lightful can help grow the potential of using social media for social good," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Lightful helps users to manage several social media accounts from one place and to schedule campaigns.
Street Child, a charity which provides education for children in developing nations, is one of about 1,800 mostly UK-based organisations currently using Lightful.
Another is Woman's Trust, which offers counselling for women suffering domestic abuse.
Lightful said in a statement the investment will be spent exploring how social enterprises and charities can use new technology, such as bots and artificial intelligence, to maintain relationships with donors and customers.
Lightful is part of a wave of companies using technology to address social problems - from using virtual pets to tackle loneliness in the elderly to fighting the Zika virus by using drones to disperse sterile mosquitoes.
Mason is one of a growing list of celebrities to get involved with businesses seeking to address social issues that includes Australian actor Hugh Jackman, U.S. actress Rosario Dawson and U.S. performer Pharrell Williams.
($1 = 0.7135 pounds)
(Reporting by Lee Mannion @leemannion, editing by Robert Carmichael; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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