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The lovely @alex_stef invited me and @manu_babele to offer experience and advice as non profits are wondering how to cope with the corona crisis.
About 20 of us community workers met in an online call to try to figure our how organisations which are very much in the territory deal with the challenge of moving their activities online - most of them Romania based. Introduction by the host focused on 3 questions and challenges today like never before:
- How do we play the pandemic network game? -> we need to collaborate more and better (Andreea, program director from Community Foundation Galati).
- How do we generate cashflow for our beneficiaries?
- How do we generate active communities beyond our usual bubble?
We had community coordinators, volunteers, experts, and network experts in the room:
- Ruxandra: local coordinator of a community program for STEM education, Fondul Științescu.
- Marius: board president of the Galați Community Foundation ‘If we would have set up this call/event live, we wouldn’t have had so many people’
- Alexandru: expert on migration
- Cristina: grants manager at the Bucharest Community Foundation
- Alexandra: participation consultant and community facilitator asking how can orgs working with local communities can offer support in light of the deep shifts happening
- Manu: worked on a lot of projects for social innovation and especially incubation
- Mihai: coordinator of a capacity building program equipping libraries with books in 12 countries
- Alin: founder of CoderDojo in Pitesti (south Romania)
- … and others
Manu is a social innovator and like me, used to the online, but has been disappointed with the messiness of the Internet and wanted something more structured. Takeaway: in their social business incubation program, Manu and his team test for minimum viable online interactions, so that the time and community management is more efficiently used relative to the offline!
Some of the burning topics we talked about:
1. How can foundations with ongoing programs build or increase their online presence and reach to not lose momentum?
I read this as a need to stay relevant, in the way of not losing contact with the populations they serve through their very existance. Some projects - like technical innovation among high schoolers, can be repurposed with an online component because youth will be quick adopters. But others, like Marathons, cannot happen online.
We kept getting this question of: ‘What are some recipes for moving activities online? For having a useful presence there?’
Unfortunately this is not cookie cutter. It needs strategic considerations, and for the how: we would need to spend a couple of days together to integrate some ideas into their way of working. Sorry, but it’s not as easy!
A great list of civic/social initiatives in Romania working to help relieve the corona crisis:
2. Emergency responses: How do you keep your community alive and cashflow support to those who need the resources?
We talked a lot about the need to repurpose resources and redirect requests to those organisations already equipped to do crisis relief! My own advice was to even drop projects, if the cost is too high to get them through the noise in today’s communications, which are anyway mostly focused on corona. These efforts might clog the channels, more than do good.
Next steps for this group:
- a few hours of people to look into each other’s issues + resources
- new calls focused on a specific question