December 2009 Archives

Police Quarrels.

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Louisa/POR tells us this funny story:

This weekend we hosted a mini camp with more than 300 participants! (divided in 3 different sites- village- interchange- summercamp). That is a great number and a big fuss for our only chapter of course. But the funny part is that we had 300 participants, their parents and 6 buses at the same place in central Lisbon so the police gave us a ticket for a non-declared demonstration!!!! We will have to pay from 700 to 3500 euros for this big- non reported to the authorities- event!!!! I guess now it sounds funny and we are proud to be this big but the pay-day will hurt...

The fee balance.

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Are 9 pounds per day per participant enough or too much?

During our national board meeting in Germany we recently discussed the new international fee structure for our programmes. At the AIM, a standard fee of 9 GBP per day per participant was introduced for the Village, Summer Camp, Seminar Camp and Youth Meeting programme. 3 out of the 9 GBP are used for international administration. The other 6 GBP are transferred to the hosting chapter as a "hosting bonus".


I was wondering: why did we chose these 6 pounds? Obviously we have to strike a balance between participation fees that are to high so that nobody can afford to take part in our programmes. On the other side the "hosting bonus" must be high enough to help and motivate chapters. I guess that the 6 pounds were chosen as a compromise between existing hosting fees.

The other question is, why 3 GBP for administration? This number easier to explain, because it simply has to cover our international expenses: IO rent and salaries as well as the costs of our international committees (which have been fairly stable during the last years) have to be covered by the 3 pounds per participant. It's nice that the amount we spend on administration is so transparent now, but also shocking to see that we are spending 33% of our participation fees on international administration! Funds spent on national or chapter level isn't even part of the discussion.

So what to make out of all this?

- My feeling is that 33% of participation fee for administration are quite high. Hence,  a major goal should be to reduce the percentage of international administration. The best solution would be to increase the number of programmes we host. Assuming that international administration remains the same, no matter how many programmes we have (which is only partly true), we could easily reduce the 3 GBP administration fee. (See also my post about quality and quantity.) The other alternative, of course, is cutting costs by firing IO personel and killing costly comittees. (Why this may not be as bad as is sounds is covered in the starfish vs. spider post)
- We need some kind of a monitor system to measure, whether the 6 GBP host fee are right: Are we lacking hosts (because chapters can't pay to host) or are we lacking participants (because participants can't afford the fees)? Somebody should be keeping track!

A few more thoughts on the fee structure in general:

- Mosaic is excluded, of course. But IPPs and Interchange should be included: Not for the host fee, but for the administration fee: Every participant should pay the exact same 3 GBP per day per participant.
- Seminar camps are also a bit odd: From the 6 GBP host fee only 3 go to the hosting chapter: Comparing Summer Camps and Seminar Camps from the chapters perspective, you only get half the hosting bonus for the latter.
- Personally, whereas I like the ideas of transparency and alignment o the participation fees, I would still favor getting rid of the host fee altogether: Check out my reasoning on the original motion.

Regional Training Forums.

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Last year I spent an afternoon at the RTF here in Hamburg and was really impressed by the amount of competence and motivation stuffed into the group of people. I can only recommend participating in one. Because from this week on, you can sign up online: Check out the sessions at the Resources Training Website (you have to click on the regions to find the workshop agendas, which is a bit awkward) , and see if there's anything in there for you...

Mosquito Movie.

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The mosquito tactics team asked me to promote their latest project, which I gladly will:

What is peace? Is there such a thing? And if there isn't - how can we create it together? On the 10th of December at 12 GMT the movie will be launched here: The movie is inspired by 'Mosquito Tactics - a book about peace education'. Both the movie and the book bring up many weighty subjects but also show how you can make the world a better place through peace education, commitment and working together with others.
Can't wait...

Editorial Note: Spam.

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I've been struggling with spam comments lately, which those of you who subscribed to the comment feed might have noticed. Unfortunately Movable Type (the software I use for the blog) doesn't seem very good at detecting spam, so I'm currently removing them by hand. I'm looking into different solutions right now, because I want to prevent setting up new barriers. Please be patient. Any suggestions are welcome...


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At a recent birthday party I met a lady, who works for a charity that supports a children's cancer center in St. Petersburg. She proudly explained that the mortality had gone down from 80% to 20% in the past 10 years since her charity has been involved. We also spoke a lot about CISV, but I found it hard to come up with a similarly impressive figure, to pinpoint the results of CISV's work.

In an earlier post I  already tried to outline the problem of "measurability". A lot of things in CISVs are just not measurable, like the effect of education, the true quality of a camp, the motivation of volunteers. A few years ago a study was done to see, what happened to all the CISVers we educated, and found that lots of them became teachers. Does that tell us anything? Measuring CISVs success by the percentage of participants going into the educational field? Obviously not. But how else can we measure our success?

Hans Rosling, my favourite "development statistician" explains how this problem also exists in Human Rights and Democracy.

(Sidenote: As in all of his talks, he draws a great conclusion: That democracy and human rights are not means to another goal (like health and wealth), but have values of their own.)

A rather new project by Facebook tries to measure world peace by the amount of friendships between nationalities that are politically "not-so-friendly":


Looks like friendship is growing everywhere, but I guess it's simply more Facebook users over time. Useful or not, an interesting indicator. (Maybe somebody can find a formula to extract CISVs impact on this data?)

While corporations simply measure their success in profits, CISVs output - awareness, attitutes, skills and knowledge - seems impossible to grasp. But, the fact that things are hard to measure, doesn't mean we should forget about it, but find pragmatic tools to rate our work. I think the much critisized PDPEF is one way to measure educational success. Certifying trainers is another way to monitor the spread of qualified trainers, as a quality indicator. Here at FTB I'm trying to find indicators for NA performance with the Balcony Index.  For the future, we'll need even more tools to evaluate our work if we are serious in our mission for peace. And also, if we want to impress potential participants, leaders and sponsors.

Further reading:
GOOD magazine has some good takes on evaluation and measuring success in the non-profit world. Here's a starter that is part of a series of articles.

CISV vs. Politics.

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In 1999 Sebastian/MEX presented a PowerPoint during IBM in Brazil, 4 years later the Local Work Committee had a presentation on the same topic. I've touched the issue here on FTB, now the IJRs are having a go:

Hopefully politics will someday find their way into our definitely not "non-political" organization.

PS. Paul's epilogue is fantastic - ever considered a TV career?

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