June 2009 Archives

EEC nationalities.

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At last years AIM there was a discussion in the German delegation on the importance of having a representation inside the Expanded Executive Committee = EEC- which consists of the IEC (INternational Executive Committee = the "bosses") and the chairs of international committees. At the moment Germany has nobody in the EEC. I remember back in 2000 we were 4 Germans during the EEC sessions.

To see how this changed over the years, I checked the numbers in the Annual Reports and created a graph to represent how many people from one country where in the EEC:

(The legend is exactly the other way around than the graph, don't be confused) It's interesting to see that the EEC has grown over the years, by adding new committees, but also the IJRs haven't always been part. Also quite remarkable is Norway's rise in recent years, with even two IEC members (Arne-Christian and Lene) today. On the other end is Great Britain that used to have two members for a long stretch, but hasn't had anybody in the EEC since 1999. Now, if you take all those years and count the "EEC-membership-person-years" (EECpy) and sort them by country you get another interesting picture:

(Unfortunately the software auto-selected different colors this time.)

Like with the IJR-elections it's Canada who turns up as number one, followed by USA, Sweden, Germany and Italy, 5 of our biggest NAs. But does the number of EEC-members stand in line with the size of the NA? Does the EEC representation reflect the size of the NA? To answer this question, I compared the EECpy with the total amount of participants sent to international programmes and expresse this with a ratio - a kind of quota, I'd like to call P/EEC (Participants/EEC member):

So here you can see, how many participants a country sends to international programmes to recruit on person to stay in the EEC for one year. The bigger the number, the less leadership compared to the NA size. Quite amazing to find Israel (119 participants per EEC year), Portugal (128 P/EEC) and Costa Rica (132 P/EEC) in the first places here.

But what to make out of all this?

  • The NAs with the most people in the EEC are obviously investing in the international structure: It takes time and money to send somebody to AIM, until that person is qualified to take over a leadership position (when costs are covered by IO).
  • NAs with members in the EEC probably also profit by a) gaining influence in the decision making process and b) getting first-hand information delivered back to their chapters. On the other hand you could argue, that these NAs are "wasting" human resources in the top structures instead of having them working on the grassroots level, i.e. on a chapter board. Often, when a committee chair's term is over, that person really needs a break from CISV, and is no use back in the chapter level.
  • As usual, the numbers are a bit small to be significant. Take Israel: Without Iris (former SCC chair) and Richard (former ERC chair) Israel would be nowhere on this list. Two people can make a difference. Then again, with Noam as the new village chair, they have another leader lined up...wow. Loads of leaderhshis for a small NA.

Website best practise.

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Smashing Magazine lists a top 10 of best practises for non-profit websites. I used this list to see where CISV International's website stands here.


1) Make your site donor-friendly

It takes five clicks to get to the actual donation page, which is hidden under "support us". Then - what a shock: The browser window resizes, and an ugly page with the old CISV logo appears. I wonder if anybody ever makes it past this page. The next page however looks a bit more comforting, but anyway - CISV fails here.

2) Make your site media-friendly

Nothing. No page for journalists. I guess you could find the information and pictures you need somewhere on the website, but I wouldn't call it friendly. Failure again.

3) Make your site volunteer-friendly.

It does take several clicks to get to the page with the link to the NAs, but there are several pages dedicated on how to become a volunteer in CISV, and what we have to offer. So yes, the page is volunteer-friendly.

4) Make sure your organization's purpose is immediately apparent

On the front page. Good.

5) Make sure your content takes center stage.

The design isn't exactly exiting, and the pictures are small. The menu is boring, so yes content takes center stage.

6) Make sure your website is consistent with your other promotional material.

Ever since the rebranding we're quite consistent.

7) Know your site's purpose up front

This one is hard to answer, because I wasn't involved in the design process. In fact the purpose of the international website could easily be questioned: CISV is a local organisation, with chapters and real people. What use is there for an international website except to direct people to their NAs and chapter's website. I'm afraid I can't call this a success, because this website tries to be everything at once, and I can't see an overall concept behind it. I would prefer to see an international website that is stripped down to navigating the people to where they belong: CISVers to the friends website, volunteers to the resources website, newcomers to the NAs website.

8) Include a news section or blog.

Yes there is "Latest News", but this is rarely updated and quite dull. Hmmm. More like failure.

So, counting these points together, I end up with 4/8 successes. Room for improvement, I'd say! Check out the NGO websites mentioned at Smashing Magazine, from Greenpeace to Save the Children - most of which look fantastic and do fulfill the suggestions given. Personally I like the change.org website pictured below.


Germany's website is also about at 3-4/8. How does your NA's website meet these criteria, have you checked?

It took me an Nic (GBR)  half a night to find a website that was worse than CISV Great Britain's. But in the end we did find one: CISV Uruguay's. Sadly enough, CISV Uruguay doesn't exist anymore. But they're waving flags shall be animated forever.
I was wondering which NAs have the strongest chapter(s). To answer this question I did an easy calculation: I divided the average number of programmes hosted in 1996-2007 by the average number of chapters an NA had during that time. So what I got, was the average number of programmes hosted per year by one chapter. The strongest chapter in the world would be the one hosting the most programmes per year.

Here is a display of the results in a graph:


These statistics count all programmes as equals, so one Village or one Interchange count as one. My thoughts:

  • Quite surprising to find the Netherlands, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico and Hungary in the first 5 places. None of these NAs are generally considered "strong" NAs.
  • All the top NAs before Brazil each have one chapter, only.
  • As you may know, the NAs are structured quite differently, and the number of chapters say nothing about their size, or their organizational purpose. For example CISV Denmark has (or had?) a chapter,  for hosting Mosaics only. Also whereas the Netherlands and  Austria probably have more or less similar country sizes (in population and area), the former NA has one and the latter 4 chapters.
  • In some multi-chapter NAs the hosting is shared by the various chapters in quite unevenly. So some chapters host a lot of programmes, while others host only very little.
The remaining question is what size an ideal chapter would be? When does it make sense to break up a chapter into two, or consolidate two into one? Is it a question of "infrastructure", or geographical outreach?  

Superpowers update.

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I wonder if we started a trend in Sweden: Check out this T-Shirt:

(Bigger version by clicking on the image.)

IPP & Mosaic.

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In 2000 I became the co-ordinator of the IPP taskforce. It was a rather inconvenient moment in time, because it was the year IPP (succesfully) applied to move from experimental status to official  activity. Since 2008 IPP is a full blown programme and (theoretically) stands at equal importance as for example the village programme; it is widely accepted as a core part of CISV's educational philosophy.

However, during the IBM (now called AIM) in Austria, it wasn't all that sure. In fact the President of CISV International by then (who recently made the news with rather nonconstructive criticism), suggested that IPP should become part of the Local Work programme. Me and the rest of the IPP taskforce objected, and IPP went on to become its own activity.

In the following years Local Work started to struggle, being a facade of a programme with not much behind, and seriously needed to reinvent itself. The "ReThinking Local Work" project came up with a new concept called "MOSAIC". Besides changing to a more sexy name, it moved LW/Mosaic closer to IPP by encouraging work with partner organisations and giving the programme a more project-like character. When the board of trustees approved "Mosaic" in 2005, people came to me and warned me, that IPP may lose its unique profile, and we had to take care of that.

mosaicm.pngA few days ago the "Mosaic Magazine" came with the mail, and on the front page is a picture of the IPP in Egypt that took place in January this year.  In the magazine, about 50% of the articles  deal with IPPs and on the back cover is a map of the world, indicating where Mosaic AND IPP projects are taking place around the world. I remember suggesting an "IPP section" to the editor of the Local Work Magazine many years ago, but was rejected. Today, it seems, Mosaic and IPPs are closer than ever.

Now, would it make sense to stick them both together and have , let's say National and International Mosaic Projects (NMPs ans IMPs)? Should the former president of CISV international get his wish fulfilled after all?

I don't think so, and here's why: IPP is an international programme with a fixed structure and educational content. Planning an IPP requires hard work, building a relationship with a partner organisation and setting up a concept and practicals for a group of 25-35 people. In my experience, the biggest motivator for pulling through an IPP is the fact, that a whole bunch of people had bought plain tickets to come all the way to participate.

Mosaic on the other hand is still CISVs playground: The projects can be for any age group, any size and whatever duration fits the project best. A partner organisation is possible, but not mandatory. And one of Mosaic's biggest strengths is that it is mainly a local programme, even if that word doesn't appear in the programme's name anymore. It's low cost, low effort with a focus on education, not structure.

So, I welcome the idea of Mosaic and IPP moving along hand in hand, learning from each other. But they do remain two different, unique entities in the world of CISV.

The Stockholm conspiracy.

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In the past decade a few attempts have been made to move IO away from Newcastle. There are many reasons, that I don't want to elaborate here, but these days I wonder if maybe a conspiracy is taking place moving the IO to Sweden, without anybody noticing.

Here are my clues:

- The Mosaic magazine was printed and distributed in Stockholm.
- With the employment of Bebe as the new operations manager, somebody is already bringing Swedish culture into the international office.
- The infamous A.A. is enjoying a double position as IEC-trustee and secretary general of CISV Sweden.
- Mosquito tactics, an innovative document is being printed and promoted from Sweden.
- The upcoming chair of the Educations and Research Committee Rodolfo moved to the South of Sweden not to long ago.
- With two further members from Norway the IEC is under an Scandinavian influence anyway, with Norway itself being out of the question due to high labour costs.
- The city of Stockholm managed to attract British Nic as an intern at CISV Sweden's office, why shouldn't it also attract members of the IO staff.

We'll have to see....it all makes sense.
After trying for almost an hour to integrate the posts of this website on Facebook's group page, I created a "Facebook Page" instead, where new posts will appear automatically. The Group will be deleted soon, and if you like, you can become a "Fan" of the FTB-page at Facebook. Also I made a little badge in the sidebar...

Argentina still crying.

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I quite remember an e-mail from Guada, the NJR from Argentina in 2001, asking for advice: Argentina's currency had just gone almost worthless within a few months, making it impossible for Argentinians to participate in any international CISV activity. Of course, there wasn't much we could recommend...

Let's look at the actual numbers of CISV Argentina:


Apparently Argentina used to be a vibrant CISV country before 2001, hosting 3-5 international programmes every year. After diving down to 0 in 2001, they never really recovered to their original strength. The size of the bubbles here represent the number of international participants, which used to be way above 100 per year, and also went done by about 30%.

I think Argentina is a vivid example of how economic crisis can hit an NA hard, and the effects can be long-lasting. But what to learn from this?

1) I've always seen Mosaic (or formerly Local Work) as a programme that can carry on CISV's goals and objectives, even without international air travel at low cost. Having a strong Mosaic programme in an NA will make sure the organization survives economic crisis.

2) Perhaps some sort of suport structure should be created for NAs in this situation. Charging fees by the "Big-Mac-Index" (what's this?) has been suggested in the past, but the idea was abandoned, for practicability reasons. Some sort of emergency fund may be another possibility, that covers fees for NAs in economic crisis in order to bridge until better times arrive.

However, in 2008 the global economic crisis hit all CISV countries. Luckily so far, CISV hasn't been jeopardized very much. But looking at Argentina, we should be worried.
Google offers a website to analyze trends in website traffic. Being quasi a monopolist, Google gives an accurate picture of what people are interested in. Check out trends for Obama or SARS or even iphone.

Now here are the trends for CISV:


It does seem like a bit of a downward trend to me, which I find hard to understand. Let's look at out total number of sent participants as a comparison (unfortunately only up to 2007):

participation trends.png

So how come the slight growth in our participation during the same time period is not reflected in the "internet buzz"?

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