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Structures - Spaces - Regions | European NGO Exchange

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Micha Braun

on 2 February 2015

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Transcript of Structures - Spaces - Regions | European NGO Exchange

Financing and
Business Models



of Spaces

Aims of your cooperation
Language of Politics
Language of Business
Language of Cultural Workers
Understand the needs, aims, processes and hierarchy of politics and business as well as their language (try to speak their language)
Find arguments why politicians and business people should support you and present your ideas in their language (think about their stakeholders)
Door opening
Involve international partners in your cultural activities and “use” them to put pressure on local authorities to accept and support you
Get involved
Take over responsibility for your local community and talk about it
Create a communication platform (or hub) for trans-sectoral exchange
Be open to all sectors and invite them to talks in your NGO
But first:
... discuss the rules and aims of your business and politics co-operations:
What do you expect?
What can you offer?
Where are your limits in cooperation?
Should you make blacklists?
As you see - it’s all about...
adopt and transform
Accept certain rules in the political and business sector, be patient!
Your political and business partner should be on eye-level with you and your NGO
Common Interests
Find common points with potential partners
Any trans-sectoral talks should be with “one voice”
Stay tuned!
It is important to be in personal and direct contact
Key Question
But ...
... before making agreements, consider these points one more time:
Be aware of what kind of work has to be done. Do not look for the most interesting but for the best fitting people. Keep the interesting ones in mind for future projects.
Prepare your organization for new people – do not concentrate anything around you and the ‘founders’.
Think about more flexible structures within your organizations (i.e. short and long term employments, flexible accounting, success-related salaries).
Have trust in young people! Be open for different working and organizational models (but stay true to your organization’s aims at the same time).
How can you and your organization attract volunteers and employees -
to come and to stay?
So, how to catch people?
Reconsider your personal as well as your professional network. Are there interesting people you would like to work with?
Co-operate with your local job center for long term interns. Sometimes they even support you by paying parts of the salary.
Take part in national or international volunteer programs and take these young people to your office for a year. Maybe they fall in love with you and your work.
Our problem:
There is a huge brain drain from the poorer regions of Europe - young people move away and are looking for opportunities elsewhere.
Even if they stay after school and/or graduation, they are leaving after maybe you enabled them to - by qualifying them and making them attractive to other organizations or the public sector who are paying better.
A solution ...
... will not be easy to find and mostly depends on:
Your ability to find great volunteers and employees.
Your ability to offer them experience, qualifications and - last but not least - an appropriate gratification (in money or otherwise).
Your internal structures, modes of acknowledgment and chances of having success.
Best practice examples from our network:
You bet I (already) got some great staff! Now, how to hold and motivate them?
In our experience, this is what worked:
Provide them with competences instead of just employing them.
Analyze which of your competences and offers can motivate them to stay and to work for your organization – on structural, regional and spatial level (i.e. some sort of local surplus, identification values, your personal network to share).
Find new challenges for your employees; give them responsibility for projects or parts of budget etc. The more you trust them, the more they have a chance to success.
Enable your people to apply for their own projects and income. Train them in writing projects, support the process of applying as well as the realization.
Allow them to identify with your organization. Maybe even enable them to re-brand it. You will be surprised!
... share your work! Let your staff be part of the organization, not only employees.
Above all ...
Let’s start with a sort of status quo …
These probably are (some of) your financial sources:
official/in kind funding
third party funds
self-generated income

international level (EU, big firms, international funds, crowdfunding etc.)
national level (state ministries, cultural programs etc.)
regional level (local community, entrance fees, donations etc.)

So, check if you (or we)’ve missed something!
And ask yourself: Are you able/Do you want
to make use of all of these sources?
A main problem of NGO funding is that it is mainly project-based.
That means
a lack of continuity
an unsustainable staff situation
discontinuous work, even within the financed projects themselves

Our suggestion would be: Your business is not just about money – you have to think about structures first!
And by that we mean
Financial structures of your organization
Organizational structures (of your staff, of the work/program you are doing, and your funding schedule)
Material structures you can make use of
Ideational structures that constitute and determine your work

“Every September we don’t work,
we write applications!”
Here are some strategies/best practice examples
for your financial structures:
1. What about Sponsoring? What sorts of sponsorship are you looking for?
Institutional/project related/crowdfunding (“We got this great idea, you got the money.”)
Ideational/mental sponsorship (“May we use your name for …?”)
Material sponsoring (“Gimme no money, gimme your stuff!”)
Anyhow, first question in sponsoring always is: Can we create identity
and a personal/corporate approach for the sponsor (or by sponsoring)?
This means, think in their terms, not only in yours.
2. Make your own money. Earn some income by your work. Some possibilities would be:
Do it yourself! (Build your place yourself! Brew your own beer! Design your own merchandising!)
Raise some membership fees
If you sell something (i.e. tickets), raise some small ‘on-top’ money (“50 cents top for renovating the place”)
However, serious key questions would be:
What is the value of cultural work at your place?
How to judge the problem/potentials of commercialization?
What are the legal perspectives? How do they affect your work and your income possibilities?

Why not use existing structures? Take them over (i.e. local cultural centers that are threatened by closure) and build on them.
Co-operate with educational institutions. Let them do some organizational work for you – at least they are multiplicators for your ideas.
Use (or initiate) some small scale co-operations with your local businesses. Build a mentoring program (in German: Kulturpaten) where accountants, lawyers, PR experts etc. donate some of their time and knowledge for local NGOs.

Let’s have a look at some ideas within organizational structures ...
Also, material structures you already own (space, facilities, tools etc.) could be useful in terms of:
Renting them out
Sharing them with other NGOs in exchange
Offering them to potential sponsors

Co-work with other NGOs and share your knowledge instead of buying it
Do not only propose non-recurrent projects to sponsors and funds, but build up a strategic brand that gets recognizable in your area
Come up with a media strategy, with key points of communication and decisive benefits for your sponsors (“If we don’t do this together, nobody will do it!”)
Think about strengthening your brand by some ‘merchandising’ (“Look, this T-Shirt does something good for our community!”)

Last but not least, you also may use your ideational structures for your own and others’ good
So, don’t ever say again that it’s
only about money!
In general, there are two approaches to adopting spaces …
To have an idea and to develop it.
Then look for spaces!
To already have a space
and restore it.
We will concentrate on the later one, but most of it applies to the other, too.
First question always is:
Who’s got the venue?
Who owns it and what is his or her idea about it?
Next question:
Who wants it?
Is it only you or are there some supporters, like the municipality or some cultural fund who wants this place restored?
Main task, of course:
Find supporters!
Educational program (if planned)
Look into the
business models
section for further hints.
Here are some best practice ideas out of our toolbox...
Build the venue yourself or get in contact with a building company that permits you assistance in building
Get some materials sponsored
Let somebody design your venue for free (i.e. architectural students, partners from a mentoring program)
Rent out parts of the space to small businesses
Make an arrangement with the owner for low rents in exchange for something he wants (i.e. a café, some educational sections, recreational parts, etc.)
Create your own income by a bar or a café or some educational courses
Here are some financing sources for the different parts:
Regional/municipal funds (reconstruction, maintenance, sometimes staff, projects)
European Union funding (mostly reconstruction or educational issues)
Private donors (mostly projects, maybe reconstruction)
Crowdfunding (mostly projects)
Own income (staff, maintenance)
And, why not, some ideas out of the box...
Maybe you don’t need a fix space, if you just have a great idea!
Build on what’s already there: empty production spaces and shops, gardens, backyards, roofs, etc.
Make an agreement with the owner, of course, and then use it
a gallery
a cinema
a party venue
an educational space
an adventure trail
Establish a community model!
Create a visitor’s program (paid, maybe?)
Let the surrounding community be part of the program (or of the building process already)
Get schools and pre-schools involved

In short: create a
social venue
that is open throughout the day and not in the evenings only
Make your project a volunteer’s h(e)aven!
Participate in an (international) volunteer’s program. There are programs especially designed for the reconstruction of cultural heritages.
The maintenance of a space can also benefit from volunteer work, since they are well-educated and dedicated young people!
And, of course, do not wait until your space is “ready”!
Build up a brand by using the unfinished venue (it might get you some donations) or other venues as “YOUR BRAND in exile”.
That means that you have to develop a program before the space itself is finished (but you’ll do that anyway, for funding purposes at latest).
Once again:
Use what

s already there!
Look it up in the
financing models
Have a look in the
Human Resources
Structures - Spaces - Regions
European NGO Exchange
A Project of
Freunde der Borussia Olsztyn/Allenstein e.V., Leipzig
in cooperation with
Robert Bosch Cultural Managers Network
Fundacja Borussia Olsztyn
supported by
Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation
Robert Bosch Foundation and
The Municipality of Leipzig
Project coordinator: Yvonne Meyer, Leipzig
Project assistants: Ludwig Henne & Micha Braun, Leipzig
Presentation: Micha Braun, Leipzig
In the last 20 years the civil society sector has been subject to major changes. On the one hand, the work of organizations was focused more on Europe and its regions; on the other hand, a significant generational transition took place within the executive committees of those organizations. Nowadays, they are often headed by young graduates who face completely different challenges compared to the first activists. Accelerated communication and internationalization require a high level of professionalism in every organization, as for example in the fields of fund raising, sustainable human resources development and public relations.

NGOs facilitate and coordinate a wide range of artistic and educational projects. Their perspective on cultural regions is not limited to a historic one. They understand regions and spaces and adopt them in a contemporary way. All over Europe, organizations have developed which are often able to carry out professional and long-term projects without institutional funding. Through their work, they create important structures and use new approaches in revitalizing cultural (urban) spaces.

Working for NGOs is very interesting for young people involved in the cultural sector. Because of their flexible structures, NGOs are close to new developments in artistic and academic examination of culture and society. They offer possibilities of freelance and independent work apart from universities or the art market. And exactly because of this flexibility, activists have to have a good knowledge in organizational and human resources development. Which strategies in developing an NGO can be used considering the respective financial possibilities? How can suitable employees be found and, above all, retained? What are the possibilities of contributing to the European context through essential work and how does a successful cooperation with NGOs from other countries look like?

Our project’s objective is to initiate an exchange among European NGOs working in a comparable way while taking into consideration the following levels: “structures, spaces, and regions.” Face-to-face contact forms the basis for exchanging views on work structures, strategies of organizational development and, with regard to content, long-term international cooperation in the implementation of new approaches in art and science. A four day meeting in Leipzig in October 2013 provided time and space for the exchange on essential questions regarding further professionalization in terms of content and organization of work. The knowledge exchange took place in facilitated workshops, through presentations by the participants and within a public debate with invited experts. Almost 20 participants from seven states of the European Union worked together on topics they considered to be the most important for their organizations and got to know which topics are currently vital in the other regions. Thus, they learned more about the respective spectrum of work in the third sector and recognized similarities and differences. The key phrases ‘establishing structures’, ‘creating spaces’ and ‘strengthening regions’ opened the discussion on topics like communication, personnel structures and networking as well as sustainable use and planning of architectural and scenic (urban) spaces and goods within the European cultural heritage and thus the effect on the civil society of the varying regions.

This presentation is an elaboration of the workshop protocols and is addressing further interested parties and people who run NGOs elsewhere. We invite everyone to make free use of the tips and best practice ideas given within the document and would be happy about any feedback to: y.meyer@freunde-borussia.de.
A - not too short - foreword about the project and its aims:
Full transcript