Responsible Business Awards in Greece – brief follow-up

Interview with Sotiris Petropoulos, Director of HIGGS (Higher Incubator Giving Growth and Sustainability)

In February 2019, at the Responsible Business Awards in Greece, HIGGS was awarded the “NGO in education of the year 2018”. Congratulations for this achievement, extremely honouring for such a young organization. Please, tell us what differentiates HIGGS from other organizations in the field? Which are, in your opinions, the factors that lead to this award?

For the time being, in Greece, you cannot find another organization offering HIGGS services. HIGGS is the only provider of services specialized for Civil Society, which were and are really needed for the enhancement of the operation of various NGOs who operate in Greece. 

We strongly believe that the ideas can become reality when provided with appropriate techniques and experience. We are here to help those who help, those ordinary people who have good ideas, intentions and willingness to offer to society. We have established an open communication channel with the Civil Society in Greece and we try to address their needs and create new services to them.   

 

Which are the current and future projects of HIGGS?

HIGGS currently runs 3 flagship programs:

  1. Incubator: addressed to NGOs with up to 2 years of operation, or that haven’t been officially founded yet. It aims at helping them organize and operate efficiently and secure their first funding.
  2. Accelerator: addressed to NGOs with operation over 2 years with up to 40 administrative staff. It aims at helping them design and submit a successful funding application as well as accelerate their growth.
  3. Recharge: addressed to operating NGOs with an outdated organizational structure that supports beneficiaries unable to turn to other entities for help and are facing severe financial viability issues.

 Moreover, HIGGS:

  • provides tailor made training to NGOs
  • social impact measurement evaluations
  • participates in various European Projects aiming in the enhancement of CSOs and adult training education
  • hosts in its premises events for the Civil Society
  • cooperates closely with private companies in the framework of their CSR

 We have many interesting and innovative ideas and plans for the future, so stay tuned in our website and social media!!!!

 

What did you learn in the past three years considering the dynamics of the NGO sector in Greece, as well as the relationships between the non-profit and for-profit sector in Greece?

 One thing is for sure: Civil Society in Greece provides enormous social work without any substantial help from the public sector. The for-profit sector is periodically and gradually being involved but NGOs need to be really careful about this cooperation, as companies usually have their own agendas. Nevertheless, there is a crucial need to join forces towards specific social issues. The dynamics are not clear yet, as all the stakeholders (public sector, private sector, foundations etc.) influence the environment which is constantly changing.

 

RePlan – a board game for NGO diagnosis and strategic development

The Young Initiative Association from Romania has designed a board game called RePlan, which helps NGOs to train employees/volunteers, as well as to identify strategic options for development. An interview with Adela Fenichiu,  General Secretary of Young Initiative, reveals more insights into how to use the board game.

  • What is RePlan and how did this idea emerge? 

RePlan is the first board game created for NGOs to guide them through the complex process of strategic planning. The idea emerged as part of a wider project, called the NGO Management Centre (CMON), funded by the EEA Grants 2009-2014 and with the financial support of the NGO Fund in Romania. At the NGO Management Centre, part of AYI, we focus on empowering non-profit organizations from Romania through education. We support hundreds of NGOs in increasing their organizational capacity through better management methods and channeling their passion for a cause into tangible results and lives changed in the community.

Throughout the project, there was a point when we had some savings in the budget, on one hand, and on the other hand, we had to come up with a really creative way to keep the project sustainable after the funding period. So, since we had been thinking about creating such a game for a while but haven’t had financial and human resources at hand, we ceased the opportunity and created the game, afterward distributing it to 150 Romanian NGOs in. Since the waiting list was almost triple, we decided to further produce the game and sell it, also making it the first social entrepreneurship initiative of AYI. By now, we sold over 100 games and RePlan is also available in English and Norwegian.

  • Please, describe briefly the concept of the game. How could NGOs use it? Is it designed specifically for certain types of organizations?  

In brief, the game has 4 phases (“Where are we now?” / “Where do we want to go?” / “How do we get there?” / “Is our strategy sustainable?”), that can be played together or separately, like 4 mini-games, according to your needs. The main rationale behind the game is the need of many organizations to have an easy-to-use, non-formal, yet very practical tool that can help you through the process of thinking and planning the strategy, while also proving a good self-diagnostic tool as well. Very importantly, RePlan is not a fictional game, it is a tool that you can apply directly to your organization or that you can use for a case study in a training context.

NGOs can use it in almost any way they wish: for the whole organizations, for board planning meetings, in just one department or even for a mixed team of volunteers/employees. The most common uses are: developing a strategy, getting to know each other better inside the organization (especially with new members or volunteers), teambuilding, risk assessment, resource planning, even teaching 🙂

RePlan is not designed for NGOs in a certain area of activity, it can be used by any type of non-profit or non-governmental organizations, but the number of persons that can play at once is between 3-10.  As the game is quite flexible, we had orders coming from multinationals or universities.

  • Would you recommend the game to be used for training new volunteers and employees of NGOs? 

Yes, absolutely. New volunteers can get acquainted to the values and rules of the NGO, they can get a better clue of how things work in a department or in the whole organizations and they can also get to know their colleagues in a funny way. The same goes for the employees. Even more, teambuilding can be easily guided with RePlan more than one in every NGO. 🙂

For more information, you can also check our English page for RePlan: https://www.management-ong.ro/replan-en/

Good practices in training: HIGGS

Interview with Aris Suras, coordinator of the Accelerator programs @ HIGGS.

Which is the concept that lies behind HIGGS?

HIGGS is an NGO founded in 2015 with the aim to reinforce non-profit organizations in Greece, through capacity building, in particular training, mentoring, networking and events.

Our philosophy and the way we plan and implement all our initiatives and programs are driven by the principles of philanthropy, solidarity, cooperation, and trust.

Our vision is that HIGGS evolves into a hub of creativity and open dialogue aimed at promoting collaboration and innovation in the NGO sector as well as a meeting place of all interested parties, both literally and symbolically.

Please, detail the services and opportunities offered by HIGGS to various NGOs?

HIGGS runs 3 flagship programs:

a) Incubator (12-24 months): addressed to NGOs with up to 2 years of operation, or that haven’t been officially founded yet. It aims at helping them organize and operate efficiently and secure their first funding.

b) Accelerator (4 months): addressed to NGOs with operation over 2 years with up to 40 administrative staff. It aims at helping them design and submit a successful funding application as well as accelerate their growth.

c) Recharge (6-8 months): addressed to operating NGOs with an outdated organizational structure that supports beneficiaries unable to turn to other entities for help and are facing viability issues.

NGOs entering the Incubator & Accelerator go through HIGGS BOOTCAMP, an 80-hour extensive training specifically designed for NGOs, based on their needs. It lasts for 1 month, covering 16 thematic areas, including (indicatively) NGO Management, Project Design, Implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation of projects, Budgeting, Legal Issues, Fundraising, Networking, and Communication.

Can you please summarize the impact of HIGGS to the local NGO ecosystem?

In the first 2 years of operation, 60 NGOs across Greece have participated in HIGGS’ programs, which, consequently, affect more than 100,000 beneficiaries, coming from a variety of vulnerable groups. Indicatively: homeless, refugees, imprisoned, drug addicts, blind, mentally disabled, with mobile disabilities, heart and cancer patients, people in danger, children, the elderly, animals, sea life.