Portugese Power (Part II).

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
joao.jpgAn interview with CISV Portugal's president.

I met Joao many years ago, when we were both NJRs. Now it was fun meeting him again, both of us still being involved with CISV to a certain extent (him as CISV Portugal's president more than I) and both having recently startd a family. So here are some interesting insights to CISV Portugal's recent success story. As you will see, there is no "cheap lesson" to be learned, but a ton of details that, taken together, will make the difference. But read for yourself:

FTB: Can you pinpoint what happened in 2000 that started the positive development of cisv portugal?

Joao: 2000 was the turning point point for us. The 90's where a decade of decreasing participants for CISV Portugal, during those 10 years we lost 50% of the participants.
In 2000 the board realised that this downsize would led CISV Portugal to the end. So, in order to stopped it, we all (the board, the national chair of Committees and me as an NJR), went to Algarve for a weekend to developed a strategic plan for CISV Portugal.
Before the weekend everybody had to do their homework. I had to research and study all the participants that we had since 1973. During the weekend we did a SWAT analysis and came up with a strategy:

  • to give an international offer every year for all the participants from 11 to 25; Have international offers without any age gap, let a cisver run year by year until to be a leader. And it's much more easy to find old cisvers to participate again, than getting new.
  • Go to schools and promote CISV;
  • Participate in national youth events- Promote CISV internaly. Sendding letters to old cisvers when they get 21 years old.
  • host and send to all CISV programmes and activities;
  • Increase the participants in international workshops and AIMs
In 2002 Ana invited me to be treasurer of the Board and since than we continue to implement the strategy and increased it in some points. It's been a long way. We are now in 2010 and we are sending 250 for all programmes, 4 times what we send in 2000; we are hosting 5 programmes and 4 interchanges.

FTB: So, hosting so many more programmes, you also need more volunteers to fill staff and leader positions. Where did you find those?

Joao: The volunteers were always the difficult to get! It isn't easy or even a done task. Over the years we are getting new ideas and activities. We need to have a minimum group of leaders for they can bring more by them self's. Getting 5 leaders year by year is harder to get 15! In our NRF we always ask more invitation than we got last year
One thing I know for sure is that we always need to push it up.

  1. Be flexible!  If you have volunteers find something for them, don't let them with a free summer;
  2. Known hosting plan. Let the volunteers now what we will host in advance;
  3. Invite the camp director from one of the best leaders form last year, and ask it to make the group of staff;
  4. Open applications to be a volunteer. Sometimes there are volunteers interested and they don't know they can/ want to be staff / leader;
  5. Organize the staff task to be a nice job. They have to like it in the end! We always give a present to make them fill special
  6. Host all activities all years to keep the knowledge and the motivation in CISV, new leaders can see nationally how to do it;

  1. Grand opening activities. Evenings in CISV where leaders bring new ones, about 4 during the year.
  2. Participate in Youth Forums for Universities
  3. Open applications to be volunteer and spread it to all organization
  4. Communication with Universities, be one there mailing list and make presentations
  5. Speak with the leaders directly to try them to get a friend
  6. Send a letter one the birthday of 21 years old to CISVers
FTB: Next to volunteers, money is usually a critical factor when a CISV chapter is trying to grow. How were you able to raise the necessary funds for the increased numbers of hosted programmes?

Joao: When I 1st got to the board we only could afford 1 international Programme a year. The taxes for participants were thought to an organization with 40 to 60 participants, sending more with the same structure is an advantage. Being just one chapter is much easier when we are talking about structure costs! One of the 1st measures we did as a board was to understand all the accountability and implement more ridged ways of controlling the budget. Studding the budget I understood that some national activities or even events were deficit, we finished with this! All costs need to have an income, from the participants or from sponsors. Second, we stopped the deficit of merchandising. Giving t-shirts to our friends or forget to pay them happened sometimes;) . We are much more ridged now. Also we have new items every years and sell them in specific points like national activities and parents meetings. Third, we didn't have almost any sponsors. We worked really hard to get some and got 3 big national companies to sponsor us regularly. With this regular supports we are able to pay village per year.  
We started to send more participants than hosting, now we are balanced, but has we have a national fee for Portuguese participants to host programmes that unbalanced helpe
d us.

FTB: Growing is one thing, but sustaining is another. How are you planing on keeping the level, that requests quite some motivation and
commitmment from everybody involved?

Joao: Sustainability is a constant worry. Not only we want to grow but also we want to be a solid and stable organization.
To keep the level we had to change the format of CISV Portugal, from an association based on specific people to a real institution with a structure that survives people changes. Also, we need to have a clear goal for CISV Portugal and make that goal, the goal of all the
Like I told you before, one of the things that we did, as a board, was to create series national norms and procedures. During those days we also restructure the work of the national office (NO). The NO started to assure most of the bureaucratic work so that the committees could concentrated their effort on the content.
The committees are a key piece of CISV Portugal. Our objective is that more and more they assure the content and the national activities (during the year) of each programme. To guarantee that they fulfil their job we need to give them know-how and motivation.
We started to have monthly expanded meetings, always on Wednesdays because the pizzas are cheaper ;). These meetings follow the board meeting. On the first ones, we handle all the bureaucratic-legal issues. On the second ones, we handle the content and practicals of all the activities. This way we widen the number of people involved in the decision making process, from 5, board, to 13, expanded.
To keep
the committees motivated we relay on the chairs to continue our work in the expanded in their committees and their activities. Also, we started to send a committee member annually to an international workshop to get specific training. This gives them knowledge and motivation.
In order to promote continuity our national calendar is based on activities during all the year, not only during the summer. Along the school year we have 3 mini-camps for each age (11; 12-13; 14-15); 2 leadership trainings weekends (jc, leaders, ipp and staff); on
e seminar weekend; 4 mosaic activities. These way we achieve an active volunteer group all year long, and high CISV content level.
Also the training and selection/lot of 250 participants (2010) is along the year and not everything at the same time. For example: in January we lot interchange delegations and select the leaders; in February-March we do the lottery of the village and summer camp delegations; and so on. This allows us to manage a big chapter.
Keeping everyone involved and motivated is essential for our development. Together with the structure this will led us to a sustainable growth. One of the roles of the board is to keep a positive attitude and always support all the volunteers. Whenever there is a crisis they know that they can call and count on us.
Like you said on your post, we are "a little obsessed" with numbers. Last expanded meeting we set a new goal: if we r
each 300 participants all chairs can go to an European AIM. You should have seen their faces! The best thing is that we are paying them to work harder to CISV.

FTB: Thanks for the interview!

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://www.absolutpicknick.de/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/226

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick published on May 25, 2010 2:58 PM.

Hackathon! was the previous entry in this blog.

Pay-lunteers, anybody? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.