Building sustainability and real collaboration in grassroots/civil society

Hi everyone, this is a summary of our futurespotters workshop in Tbilisi. Our group was working on this issue and we’re trying to lay the foundation for improving key issues in our society - bottomup! If you were there, go ahead and fill in this wiki by clicking Edit (make sure you’re logged in). If you’re on Edgeryders and reading from afar, please help with advice!

Issues to address: 

  • How to stay true to your org mission without compromise
  • How to achieve transparency?
  • Dealing with competition for resources/funding and insecurity
  • Inspiring employees/volunteers when money is not there!


One of the largest issues for sustainability of grassroots organizations is monetary sustainability. Our steps are to ask organizations with grant funding, like Elva, about information on international grants. Similarly, ask We Help about their experiences with corporate sponsorship and individual funding drives.  

Other issues include sharing information about projects successes. Jumpstart can give a workshop for interested people on how to activate people and empower people so their voices are heard in order to give them ownership and deter burnout. We can create a workshop that deals with program management and monitoring and evaluation, in order to ensure project success and sustainability, which also prevents burnout by building on successes. Furthermore, we can create a work culture for productivity without pressure and ensure that project managers style reflects the needs of staff/volunteers.

Collaboration and information sharing is also very important. We can start a Facebook or email group, a “hire an activist” type group, which will call for people and resources for different projects and facilitate communication between local groups and individuals. We can also utilize connections with larger NGOs and government ministries to create an idea pipeline to develop and foster successful grassroots projects grow on a larger level. Successful organizations can discusses project successes and failures in order to support and encourage other people and organizations on their projects, and these organizations can ask for support on their initiatives in return.


  • Human resources (everyone)
  • Monetary resources for sustainability (Boris)
  • Networks of organisations to deal with competition for resources and funding (everyone)
  • Contacts with policymakers USAID, UNDP, agricultural ministry (Khatuna)
  • Enthusiasm for inspiring employees and volunteers
  • Youth parliament network connections and resources
  • Foreign journalists, bloggers, twitterati (Heather, Inge, Cristina, Nina)
  • Trainings for grassroots organizing skills (Taylor)
  • Previous successes from organizations can be encouraging for other organizations (Edgeryders, Jumpstart, Vake Park)
  • “We Help” collaborating with NGOs with building movements (Boris)
  • Knowledge about how to encourage volunteerism (Jumpstart)

Call for help:

  • Experts in project management for workshop
  • Grant/funding opportunities
  • Call for flexible (!) alternative sources of funding
  • Personal experiences with funding that will help people to understand what funding will be the best for their projects
  • Volunteer programming
  • Contacts within Tbilisi

Euro projects too

Thanks for this @taylorbraundorrell. It’s kind of a long shot, but I think legal entities in Georgia might be eligible for some European funding. Edgeryders is, legally, a UK not-for-profit company, and if you guys need a partner for doing interesting stuff over the Horizon2020 European framework program, you might want to consider us. There is a group here where the community is discussing what to do with respect to the different H2020 calls. 

“we can create a work culture for productivity without pressure”

Hey, I couldn’t help but be pleasantly surprised that you think fostering such a culture can be possible in an ngo environment and workplace? Who aside from project managers would have to make the switch?

Meet @Alessandro Mambelli, he has quite a bit of experience doing work that he loves, he hates, he quits etc :))  Him and folks from Yerevan are up for doing a Tedx event style to open up conversation on learning to do work with passion. The bigger picture is that there’s a need to better connect skills of talented young people with an ever changing and yet full-of-possibilities world of work. It would be good to compare notes, no?

The Edgeryders story is also an example of a new kind of workplace: in very few words, we are a corporation of the many, which means anyone can bring in work and hire themselves into the company, running and managing the project, recruiting from the community and using the common infrastructure to run their project (platform and task management features, social media accounts, email addresses with edgeryders domain). The idea behind this radical approach is that it will help people go ahead and pursue what they want to pursue with the help of a global network. This way we don’t have to compromise our skills to do something we don’t enjoy, and the benefits of succeeding have to do with meaningful work, flexibility, peers turned colleagues, shared breakthroughs. And it also means we have each other’s backs when on the verge of burnout. How does it sound? Do you think this is something other/your organisations would like to look into?

@Cristina_Maza remember I was telling you about a burnout session at our community event last year? Here it is, there’s some good insights people have already, but what stayed with me is learning to create an environment that fosters and encourages calls for help from your peers… that’s not only brave, but also leads to better work relationships.