Things To Avoid When Changing The World

Before we begin, my fellow activists/innovators/changemakers/leaders, this is my advice for you deduced from a few years of experience in the NGO world !
Since the Arab springs started, civil society has boomed, mainly in Tunisia and Egypt, unfortunately for the other countries that weren’t as lucky. In Tunisia, more than 10,000 civil society organizations were founded after 2011, more than the total number of organizations registered from the independence in 1956 until 2010.
2011, I was in my freshman year in Tunis Business School and I couldn’t imagine the opportunities that just opened before my eyes. It felt like the construction work for a new and better Tunisia has just began.
More organizations that want to created a positive impact, more people engaged, mostly youth, and active members of the new Tunisia. With all the ups and downs, police and oppression being present at every turn of events. Youth kept fighting, innovative ideas in every aspect of life were popping up everywhere as actual spring unfolds.
I was there and I miss it very much ! I have seen as well many friends rising and shining and many friends failing, losing hope and fleeing the country for a better future.
Now, from Washington DC, I learned more about international CSOs and changemaking processes and learned more from success and fail stories of people I had the honor to meet during my stay. Here are is my advice to the new generation of change makers around the world:
1- Extremism:
People can do crazy things by their commitment to a cause and take things to the extremes. It’s very noble and important to be committed and devote your time and effort to the cause, but if you devote too much of your life, it is the wrong way to do it, and you will not achieve your desired goals/impacts.
This is a mistake I did, few years ago, it’s like when you love your sports team too much that you join the hooligans putting your life to risk and your future as well. My advice is to have a balance between your personal life, your cause and your occupation. And remember, work is a never-ending task, so just take it easy and don’t use yourself too much. Otherwise, you will burnout*. Trust me it’s terrible. After that you will feel disappointed, exhausted and you will lose your motivation and you will, GOD forbid, opt out and you get a job or for some money…. that is a win for the evil side of the cause.
Solution: Find the equilibrium and keep on fighting !
2- Mercenariness:
If you are reading this, there is a great probability that you are a brilliant member of civil society, a great activist in your community/country. My advice to you is to be aware of the traps of international development organizations. They will offer you a great ”salary”, that you won’t reject, for your brilliant level of expertise, think twice what they are paying for; your expertise or something else?
So you start your new job, happy with the illusion that you can achieve more impact for your cause since you are now in a bigger organization, but that implies that you have less time for your organization/initiative, and slowly you will be faced by a decision to leave your own organization that you built with your bare hands, sweat and blood. Then your organization fades into the darkness of unsolvable social issues.
I want you to think about it, how much did you sell your potential positive impact that you were going to achieve it through your own organization ? … wait, let me rephrase, Think about how much did you sell your dream or mindset to international organizations ?  I am sure that you don’t agree with many things at your new job, but you will stay because you are selfish and became monotonous and boring. If you work on economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, you will see the ”startuppers” (founders of startups), their job is to grow their company and then sell it to a bigger company. Civil society doesn’t work like that my friend. If you sell you organization, you sell your dreams, yourself, and the dreams of other people that you ”empowered”.
I understand that financial stability is key in one’s life, but please don’t lie to people, don’t lie to your community.
3- Impactless Work
 In this world, there are two types of people: activists and civil society workers.
While you can decide to be who ever you want, I really don’t like the civil society professional mindset.
Here is a description of each type:
Activist:
– Work something he/she likes and is passionate about solving it.
– Loves the social issue and works towards achieving and providing solutions to the cause.
– Will gather a team to do a project even when there is no money, because the whole team believes in the impact of the idea and don’t wait for the donors’ approval
– Will go the extra mile for a better impact
Civil Society Worker:
– Usually an office clerks (project manager or coordinator)
– Cares about pictures to submit to the partners more than the actual project and people affected
– Cares about his/her career
– May or may not be interested in the cause the organization is working on
– Focus on worthless details while forgetting about the bigger picture.
Please don’t get me wrong, you can be an activist and also a project manager and still do field work, it is not impossible and there is no shame in doing field work, it’s what this world is built on.
*Burnout: a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress and/or intellectual work. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

Internet Access – A Development Priority

What is the Internet? How does it work? Who controls the internet and how? While these might seem like simple questions, but the answers are not easy. Or, rather we are not really bothered to know how does it work or who owns it. We know what the internet is, but defining the Internet isn’t easy.

Defining in a simple way, Internet is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. Today, we use the Internet for almost everything, and for many people it would be impossible to imagine life without it. Most importantly, we use the Internet to connect people, communities, and countries around the world.

Q&A with Beth Kanter (author, master trainer & speaker)

Questions Worth Asking 

This month, I had the privilege to have a virtual fireside chat with amazing Beth Kanter (author, master trainer & social media guru) who was featured on  “Questions worth Asking” video chat series run by Philanthropy University. The interview was watched by Philanthropy University learners from across the globe, many of whom had submitted questions in advance. In this blog, I will revisit some of Beth’s answers to the questions which can serve as a resource and inspiration to nonprofit leaders and many out there. Beth has over 35 years working in the nonprofit sector in technology, training, and capacity building and has facilitated trainings for nonprofits on every continent in the world (except Antarctica). Beth will be answering questions on Digital Strategy for Nonprofits, Networking for Social Change, and Crowd Fundraising.

Why California is the best state in the US?

In my opinion, I think that California is the best state in the US and this is why?

The weather: The weather in California is Mediterranean-ish and has long hot summers and mild winters. When you live in California you will not be freezing and will never need to wear heavy-duty winter clothing. But should you want to sky or play with the snow, the city has a lot of natural parks with mountains where it snows. San Francisco might be an exception due to the fog but in my opinion, the fog adds a lot of charm to the beauty of the city.

Promoting Youth Empowerment and Civic Participation Across the Balkans: Reflections from Hub Fellow Edison Frangu


Dear Atlas Corps Fellows and Friends,

During my brown bag at the OpenGov Hub, I have highlight some successful projects, accomplishments and lessons from my 10+ years working in the nonprofit and public sectors in Albania and across the Balkans. Then, during this presentation I have share some key skills that I have developed, examples of my previous works, and my priorities for the coming year throughout Atlas Corps fellowship. After my fellowship, I am excited to advocate open government across my home region and learn from OpenGov Hub and other organizations through the year!

Gender-Equality Makes Business Sense

A summary and commentary of Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BDSC) “Behind Every Goal: Women Leading the World to 2030” from September 2017 at http://s3.amazonaws.com/aws-bsdc/BSDC_Behind-Every-Gobal-Goal.pdf as well as “Better Business, Better World” January 2017 at http://report.businesscommission.org/uploads/BetterBiz-BetterWorld_170215_012417.pdf

The ability of a business to adapt to its political, social, and economic environment has become fundamental. As a business grows, it learns a number of things amongst which what works (and what doesn’t), managing risk, and so forth. When we talk about best practices, a meaningful learning process includes a consideration and analysis of past experiences. Best practices in this sense then are those that couple one rewarding or beneficial practice to another one or more.

A Leaf from DAY 1 @ Philanthropy University: Welcome

A Leaf from DAY 1 @ Philanthropy University: Welcome

Each organization has it’s own ways of welcoming a new team member on DAY ONE. For some it means a round of handshakes coupled with an intensive onboarding.or others, it calls for celebration. For us here at Philanthropy University, it is the middle path.There are certain peculiar characteristics unique to us (“Welcome to the Town”). Time and time again, we get to demonstrate our “welcoming gestures” when we hire a new staff. The team goes through the full circle of induction to celebrations in one go. Joining Philanthropy University means you are not part of a “family” but coming to reside in a “town”. You will get to read more about the town culture if you read the article “Are we family?” written by our CEO, Connor Diemand-Yauman.

Reconciliation without Justice

On September 16, the ruling Nidaa Tunis coalition, backed by the Islamist Ennahdha movement, finally succeeded in passing a modified version of the Economic Reconciliation Bill that Essebsi pushed forward two years ago. This bill, now labeled the Administrative Reconciliation Act, was the first proposal suggested by the Tunisian presidency to the parliament, and Essebsi’s majoritarian bloc in the parliament defended it continuously for over two years, even holding a special parliamentary session during the summer parliamentary break. The decision to hold the session meant that the bill was voted upon without receiving the opinion of the Supreme Judicial Council, which viewed the bill as unconstitutional.

Volunteering at Karma Kitchen

At the last Sunday of October, I got a chance to volunteer at Karma kitchen with my housemate Itena. It was a rainy and cold day but we were determined that we will do volunteering because we signed up for it.  We reached the Himalayan restaurant at 11:00 AM and were greeted by Krishna and his crew members.

Karma Kitchen was first started in March 2007 in Berkeley, California, by an Indian-born person named Nipun Mehta, and over ten years it has been expanded to many cities and even countries. It is a type of restaurant where you get a 0 $ bill, but you can pay for the coming guests in your love for generosity. The Karma kitchen people call it “Pay it forward concept”.

Christiaan Triebert: There’s a lot Left to Uncover with Open Source Investigation

Christiaan Triebert describes himself as a digital forensics researcher. While he’s reported from locations around the world, he’s best known for his investigative and award-winning use of open source information: videos, images, data and information publicly available online that, if found, verified and provided with adequate context can tell important stories and challenge powerful narratives.

Having followed Christiaan and Bellingcat’s work — particularly their investigations into events in the Arab world — last week I had the opportunity to interview Christiaan about his work.