Reports and presentations

Wednesday 19 September

Opening Plenary
The 17th Grantmakers East Forum in Sarajevo opened its doors on 19th September. Participants were warmly welcomed by Vesna Bajsanski Agic, Mozaik Foundation, who introduced Sarajevo through an interesting story about the history of the Hotel Bristol where the Forum is being held. Haki Abazi, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, also welcomed the participants pointing out the responsibility of GEF to bring down the walls and borders built in the minds of people, with the purpose of building a better future moving forward, saying that Sarajevo is the best place to emphasise the best ideas and to remind us of the urgent action towards the current situation in Syria. Miroslav Ziovanovic, Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo thanked GEF for all their activities emphasising that Sarajevo is a great place to raise issues of democracy with one of the main aims to build society with the help of solid foundations. Zoran Puljic, Director of the Mozaik Foundation, welcomed all participants, remembering earlier Forums that he attended and the way that the Mozaik Foundation developed through the impact of all the GEF participants during the years. He used this occasion to present a short video of EKO MOZAIK, the most modern greenhouse in the Balkans, as one of the good examples of creating possibilities and a better sustainable future with several different impacts to society. Emphasising the challenges that are becoming bigger and bigger, he reminded everyone of the importance of GEF to join forces and ideas to make a greater impact on society. At the end of the Opening Plenary in order to activate and encourage participants to get involved, all participants received a coloured balloon, with each balloon colour indicating a task to fulfil during the Forum such as sending a tweet, sharing a photo or meeting with new colleagues.

 

Thursday 20 September

Frozen conflicts and the future of Europe
The second day of GEF started with a session on the topic “Frozen conflicts and the future of Europe”. Dr Michael Göring, ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius welcomed Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger. Ambassador Ischinger pointed out that the Europe Union stands for a model of securing peace but unfortunately this is not yet fully justified as the list of European countries struggling with conflicts is still quite long with examples such as Georgia, Cyprus, Armenia, Kosovo… The keys to reconciliation between conflicted groups are wise leadership, new relations and a top down approach. Emphasising positive example of reconciliation between Russia and Poland, the Ambassador pointed out the importance of good leadership. Referring to the GEF he encouraged all participants and the foundations they represent to try to explore opportunities to address frozen conflict areas with the aim of reconciliation and successful results. One of the participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina raised the issue of the role of education. The Ambassador reminded participants that reconciliation of conflicted groups can only be accomplished through both dealing with the past and focusing on the future. For that matter, education is of huge importance, especially in terms of preventing the educational system from implanting evil seeds of frozen conflicts into the heads of next generations. In conclusion, the Ambassador once again emphasised the importance of joining efforts in preventing upcoming problems from becoming old frozen conflicts.

Doing civil society differently: Stimulating community, co-creating capacity and redefining authority in 2.0 world
Moderator Christopher Worman, representing TechSoup Global, introduced Madalina Mocan, Ratiu Center for Democracy, Melissa Pailthorp, Microsoft EMEA and Dejan Petrovic, ERSTE Stiftung discussing the role of using technologies in order to make social change. The question arose as to whether technology and social networks will lead to the creation of a new virtual reality while real social change should be happening on a physical level? There is a need of being aware of transparency of data and information presented on the internet. The session raised questions such as what more can we do? Programming education? Do we have ethics in technology use? Do we gain any real social impact or we are just retweeting? Are social networks a tool of change or just a place where change ends? Do we USE technology, or is technology just something where we tend to be someone else satisfying our conscience and guilt? Do we need to start teaching programming form in the first grade of primary school in order to educate technology users to consciously use software instead of being controlled by them due to the lack of their knowledge.

How do you know what you are doing is working: The central importance of key performance indicators in an evaluation system
The focus of the session was Key Performance Indicators (KPI). What is a KPI? Why is it important to measure? How do you develop KPIs? How do you use KPI for monitoring? The session was designed as a practical and hands-on session to help foundations use KPIs in their work. Answering the question of the importance of measuring the work of organisations in order for a program to survive long-term, Barry Knight, CENTRIS explained what KPIs are and presented some examples of KPIs. Participants were asked to devise a performance indicator for their work after which they shared and discussed. The next critical point discussed was the measurement of change, as a key role of KPIs as a process of comparing the values over time (the baseline and the objective). Participants worked in groups of two in order to identify the baseline and objective for one KPI in their work. Mr Knight explained that the plan to get from the baseline to the objective concerns planning the program, inputs, processes, deliverables and outcomes. Also, the presentation points and discussion covered the calculation of the intermediary steps over time, the advantages of line charts and spread sheets, regular monitoring, necessity of hard data, etc. The concluding remarks were focused of characteristics of the process that take time, need the involvement of partners, the necessity of getting the data (collecting information), creating the baseline, creating the measure and intermediary points of progress, recording in spread sheets or databases, getting help and assigning the responsibility in an organisation. Mr Knight also covered common pitfalls of the process and emphasised that performance measurement is necessary because organisations will be evaluated according to their data.

The anatomy of a programme: YouthBank working across the nations
Vernon Ringland, the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, addressed participants at the workshop to be involved in an interactive approach and practical role for participants to take some new ideas with them to their foundations and activities. By introducing the role of the knight piece in a chess game, Mr Ringland pointed out the importance of smart moves which can bring you to the centre of the chess board comparing it to the Youth Banks and moves and ideas that can enhance Youth Banks. Presentation of the work and results of Youth Banks in Georgia, Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, helped participants to work on new ideas building visions for future leaders through education and youth in fundraising, matching funds but at the same time emphasising the importance of the municipality role.

The potential of social innovation: From social protection to job creation
Filippo Addarii, Euclid Network, opened the session with an introduction to social entrepreneurship and the trend of shifting from social inclusion to social entrepreneurship (SE). A definition of SE is not available and still the EU is currently working on creating a legal framework while having pilot funds for SE investment available. The main goal of a social enterprise should and must be the social impact it produces in the end. Andreja Rosandic, NESsT, presented challenges of being a financially sustainable SE, but more importantly, an organisationally sustainable enterprise with the goal of social impact. She explained the work NESsT is doing in the region, and the positive examples they have in Croatia with Roda, SE producing eco-friendly, healthy, easy to use cloth diapers and baby accessories, as well as examples in Hungaria with ‘Fruit for care’ and ‘Kék Madár’, providing employment for people with disabilities.
Elitsa Barakova, Charities Aid Foundation, pointed out the challenges her organisation is having in promoting and recognising SE in Bulgaria and the importance of legal frameworks which are going to provide just that, as well as a need for incubators, where new, successful social entrepreneurs are to be raised.

Investing into education – what change can foundations change/bring?
Critical issues were raised and started a debate within small groups. As in the introduction, participants were asked to finish the sentence “If I want to improve education in general I believe that one of the key issues is…” and some of the answers were access to school, teachers, critical thinking, quality, etc. Radmila Jusovic presented a presentation about the state of education in Bosnia and Herzegovina concluding that the low quality of today’s education will have an impact in the future (50% of young people not having a high school education). After the presentation which gave quite shocking information, Valentina Mindoljevic presented the case study of United World College in Mostar that provides quality education to those who need it emphasising one of the main focuses of the school, peace and conflict solution and education of teachers. One of the presenters, Oksana Oracheva, Vladimir Potanin Foundation, represents one of the first and biggest foundations in Russia which implements programs in three areas, one of them being education. The foundation supports excellent individuals who are highly motivated for both personal and social development.
After an interesting presentation by Ms Jusovic about the organisation “Step by Step” and its work, discussions continued in three groups in which the presenters were also involved.

Social entrepreneurship – Why are we (still) excited about it
Introducing three successful enterprises warmed up the audience and raised questions from the participants at this session. Successful stories of social entrepreneurship from Poland, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, showed positive ideas for creating change makers. During the presentation, the importance of thinking beyond the sectors and borders as one of the main ways in building good sustainable social entrepreneurship was highlighted. During the session, issues on the propositions of grants were raised with an appeal to grant makers to provide new ways of supporting social entrepreneurs which will provide more possibilities and give freedom and opportunities to achieve new ideas through innovative ways. Presenters of these three successful stories answered several questions about obstacles and problems they faced while working on social entrepreneurship as well as risks of competition, accentuating that it’s not easy but it’s neither an excuse to give up. They explained that as soon as you get involved in social entrepreneurship you are entering an open market and you have to think not only as a social entrepreneur, but as a businessman. The participants concluded that matching ideas of the business and non-business sector can bring new innovative ideas and great possibilities.

How to finish a revolution: engaging citizens in a public debate
The term of NGOcracy in post-Soviet countries was introduced by Orysia Lutsevych, Chatham House, describing that NGO leaders are taking use of their credibility to attract Western donors without having constituency in the society. She raised the issue of shifting the donors’ attention, that there is more population in need of foreign help not just in terms of money, but also in terms of expertise. With presentations of good examples of civic engagement in the UK, especially in the case of immigrants, participants were shown ways of how to use their power as a citizen, and tools that can be used in demanding basic human rights. Showing good examples of activism in the Ukraine and showing the way of fighting bureaucracy and dictatorship in a non-violent way without much money and yet having a great audit and the attention of the public was very inspirational in the empowerment of citizens in a public debate and activism.

Meet the change makers – from European cultural exchange to transnational civil society network
Philipp Dietachmair, European Cultural Foundation, introduced the session which focussed will be on the TANDEM scheme which is based on different experiences of several foundations, and as a part of the session a documentary film about two Tandem initiatives was screened. Christiane Käsgen, Robert Bosch Stiftung, explained the importance of culture for international understanding. Ewa Hubar, Stowarzyszenie To.pole, as one of the Tandem participants, explained their double tandem project between four organisations briefly explaining the project’s goals and approach. Yaroslav Minkin, art-group STAN, explained the importance of the project for the south Ukrainian region, which was tarring down the prejudices and promoting the culture festival and comics, as well as legitimisation of art in the whole region. During the session it was underlined how these experiences will feed into the European level influencing several initiatives, such as the future EU Culture Programme Creative Europe.
Mr Dietachmair explained that the future program will be pan-European where there are no limitations for cooperation and the goal is to have a group of civic organisations in the field of culture to work together, regardless of the country of origin. The issue is how to facilitate the network of organisations that was created and one of the lessons learnt is that it has to grow organically.

Telling stories: Communication strategies for promoting philanthropy
Moderated by the Bolder Giving foundation this sessions aim was to give answers to the questions of how to inspire people to give? By presenting his foundation and telling positive stories to the participants, presenter Jason Franklin pointed out the importance of triggers and motivation for people to give. Through several short exercises for participants, he wanted to show the ways of searching for good stories and motivating potential donors. Explaining the storytelling process and the way to create good stories, he stressed the importance of the quality of the story which is as important as the ways of sharing and targeting the audience. Issues of fear and insecurity of future donors was raised as one of the problems which appears in the search for new donors and the importance of several approaches in explaining to future donors their true impact and possibilities through sharing motivating stories of the people how had the same insecurities was highlighted.

Closing session with Natasa Kandic
Natasa Kandic, Humanitarian Law Center, opened the session by explaining the situation of the region during the war and in the post war period. Emphasising the role of NGO’s during the war, which were seen as traitors, she pointed out the importance on working on truth searching and truth telling on a regional level which is much more important than what is more common on a national level. She reminded everyone that human rights organisations and civil society can do much more, but they need bigger support. Highlighting that reconciliation means dealing with your own responsibilities for breach of law, she raised issues on the importance of developing national transitional justice strategies in order to reach reconciliation among the region. It is always possible to cross borders with good intentions and will to help people. Concluding the session Haki Abazi, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, reminded participants that the voice and dignity of victims should be established in order to move forward through reconciliation process which is a critical process for the future.

 

Friday 21 September

Economic inequality and democratic deficits: Post-democracy in wider Europe. What response from grantmakers
This session was focussed on the idea of “post-democracy”; growing economic inequality translated into growing political inequality and challenges for civil society organisations (CSOs) to engage in resolving these problems. Speakers highlighted “post-democracy” where formal political institutions are under the influence of financial elites. In order to answer these problems CSOs organised a network which sometimes does not work properly and does not give a solution. Highlighting that people do not use enough opportunities through these networks, it seems that regardless of a grantmakers’ effort there is always 25-30% of the population that is always active and willing to take part in the decision making process. Mentioning the role of social media, nowadays, information is shared through the internet, but it is questionable if it is enough to encourage people through use of the internet to take part in the decision making process and to urge governments to react. Discussion was raised with the question addressed of if the approach and media used by CSOs are still efficient? During the discussion it was concluded that CSOs need to force building capacity for active action, develop new models, especially those on the local level where CSOs are most active. The most important aspect is to nourish democracy which enables communication amongst people. We need to listen to each other in order to be able to act!

Politics of identity in a globalising world
By introducing observations concerning identity, Florence Hartman reminded participants of the concept of identity and issues surrounding this concept especially with the example of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As a result of globalisation and increasing connectivity and mobility, identities have become more fluid and traditional constructions of identity based on attachments to land and homeland are not as prevalent. Raising questions of problems and risks connected to identity she reflected on the politics of fear which are very often used in post conflict regions. The importance of the empowerment of people and civil society was highlighted, not only for developing projects within frameworks, but to make inventions and to build more opportunities. Also highlighted was the importance of grant makers to discuss with politicians, to go together in the same direction and further bring more possibilities and approaches towards embracing diversity.

Closing Plenary – How does the EU shape civil society in the GEF region
The Closing Plenary looked at the questions on how the EU can more effectively support development of genuine civil society in the countries in the GEF region? How can foundations encourage the EU to direct more of its development funds in the accession candidate? Since the EU gets substantial criticism for limiting its support to civil society, specifically the project implementation and service provision, this session was a chance for participants to give their opinions and suggestions. One of the speakers reminded participants that the civil sector has no alternative but to engage in a dialogue with the state. Participants stressed that GEF and EFC are willing to do more. One of the main issues mentioned was the importance of supporting small societies and local communities, challenging the EU to broaden their support not only to the NGO’s they usually support. In conclusion, participants agreed that it should be a result driven process and that everyone has to contribute more. The 17th Grantmakers East Forum was closed with the message to all the participants to continue to LEARN, REFLECT and CONNECT, until they would meet again at the GEF 2013.