ATSIV take on Digital Marketing

Interview with Denitsa Kozhuharova, Head of Human Rights Department of  Law and Internet Foundation (Bulgaria)

You are an active member of ATSIV, involved in all the stages, since the beginning of the project. How would you characterize the approach on enhancing knowledge and skills adopted during the project for the benefit of the workers and volunteers of NGOs?

ATSIV provides for a virtual learning environment which includes a course on Digital Marketing. It allows the participants to learn and acquire skills in Communication, Social Media and Online Advertising, all tailored to the needs of NGO workers. The course provides a robust set of learner-centric functionalities in a user-friendly way with an uncomplicated interface and easy functionality. As an virtual learning environment, ATSIV is accessible anytime, anywhere. It is also compatible with any browser and any access device, ensuring that all its page elements and functionalities are complete and arranged as the original page design.

When it comes to the Digital Marketing content, the main message of ATSIV compressed into a few words states that marketing is of key importance for any organization that wants to grow and develop. Much of what is required of the modern marketer revolves around a thorough understanding of marketing theory, technical marketing capabilities and an equal measure of strategic thinking and creative thinking capability. Reaching an audience to persuade has never been so simultaneously easy and complicated as it is today.

This being said, I find that ATSIV virtual learning environment is an excellent tool in the hands of any NGO, regardless of its sector, as the content is focused on how the third sector might employ these approaches, rather than providing a sector-specific information.

Share with us your opinion on ATSIV training game.

Nowadays NGOs workers as well as people with whom they cooperate, either employees, members or volunteers, encounter a wide range of difficulties related to the lack of basic knowledge in recent and highly relevant digital spheres. ATSIV – a project with the main purpose to increase the professional competences of NGOs workers – has resulted in the development of a Training Game that provides an open access online platform of training.

The ATSIV Game is an innovative and rather interesting tool to enhance NGOs workers skills. It ensures professional development needed for the nonprofit sector by play and personal study. The content of Game reveals explicit issues of the NGOs workers professional activity, which is comprehensively outlined in the three topics such as: Digital Marketing, Crowd-funding and Networking. The ATSIV Game is made in a manner that keeps the attention of the player, so it is not difficult to concentrate on materials that Game is aimed to convey.

Consequently, by playing the ATSIV Game, NGOs workers can go through the course of lectures and acquire new and extensive knowledge in the extremely relevant spheres. In such way, the ATSIV Game influences a professional growth of the worker and simultaneously stimulates a rapid NGO development.


The ATSIV game, for professional  development in the field of marketing direct, crowdfunding and networking, can be played online  here.


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.


How is crowdfunding related to the development of NGOs in the future?

This was the topic of discussion in an ATSIV knowledge-exchange seminar in Sofia (September 2018), where the participants had the chance to think and talk about the future of funding and NGOs in the framework of the global Mega-trends.

First of all, if you are interested in knowing more about the mega-trends, which affect all aspects of life and will keep on shaping reality at least for the next 12 years, you can learn more in these articles: here, here and here, or you can download the 2017 MegaTrend analysis over here. What is necessary to know is that several mega-trends uniquely affect the non-profit sector development and will continue doing so, including:

  • Climate change and the scarcity of resources on our planet, taken together with the growing need for food and resources;
  • Urbanization;
  • Technological advancements;
  • The empowerment of individuals;
  • Demographic and geopolitical shifts.

Mega-trends are usually viewed from the perspective of their effect either on individuals, or on corporations, but it is an interesting exercise to put the non-profit sector under the same scrutiny and examine the possible futures this way.

For example, one conclusion of the participants in the seminar, was that while country economies are growing closer and just growing, NGOs will have more and more work filling in for gaps in healthcare, education and other services. The inclusion of more efficient processes, modern technologies and even AI open many new opportunities for better services for people, however the NGO workers envisioned even more hardships for governments in meeting the needs of their people.

On the other hand, something very interesting to all participants was the future of funding for non-governmental organisations. As the mega-trends point out, the needs of the world are growing, however charitable giving – even though it was on the rise up until 2016 – has started declining since 2017, as the World Giving Index 2017 shows. This creates a significant uncertainty for NGOs – where will their funding come from?

Crowdfunding is a growing means of collecting money – not only for start-ups and innovative business ideas, but also for causes and charitable projects, which people deem worthy. In fact, a 2018 study (where you can also find more interesting statistics on the topic of giving) shows that “16% of crowdfunders donate less money to NGOs, NPOs, & charities due to their financial support of crowdfunding campaigns”, which points to an important shift in the way people give. And seeing how tens of billions of dollars have so far been raised through crowdfunding campaigns, it is a worthwhile investment in time to look into this opportunity for your NGO as well.

In your search for new knowledge on crowdfunding, you can try ATSIV’s serious game, which has a whole section dedicated to the topic! Stay tuned!

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:

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.

NGO Skills Matrix

The development of training programs is based on the identification of knowledge and abilities which are to be transmitted. These are at the base of the educational objectives. Therefore, a very important stage in the development of the ATSIV training platforms was the identification of the skills needed by the representatives of the NGOs in Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, and Romania.

The relevant skills matrix bellow bundles and classifies a significant part of the skills, identified as needed and important by the participants in the questionnaire, considered together with the discussions, which were held during the focus groups in all partner countries.

Best practices in the field of training in the NGO sector

ATSIV team is developing a research on the best practices in the field of training for the benefit of the nonprofit sector. This study allows understanding the most modern and effective tools, utilized by professionals in the field of adult learning in the case of workers – including volunteers – of NGOs in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe.

The preliminary audit  has revealed the following key aspects leading to effective results:

  • Interactive engagement;
  • Variation;
  • Informal learning;
  • Group dynamics;
  • Logistics & organizations;
  • Intercultural training;
  • Evaluation and reflection.

© Monika Wisniewska ID 2235135 | Dreamstime Stock Photos


The list of programs selected is extensive and is updated continuously. We present here only some of them:

  • Summer school for NGOs developed by the Bulgarian Center for Non-for-profit Law;
  • Empowering women: “I’m not afraid of storms for I’m learning to sail my ship” developed by Salto Euromed;
  • TCP 2016 Forum on Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship developed by the Italian Erasmus+ National Agency and the SALTO-YOUTH Participation Resource Centre, in collaboration with the Bulgarian, Danish, Hungarian, Maltese, Spanish and UK Erasmus+ National Agencies;
  • Give Power and Help – Self Identity in Youth Work and Projects developed by Akademickie Centrum Informacji i Edukacji Europejskiej;
  • Usage of competences development measuring for training contents improvement by Social Participation Department Municipality of Wrocław;
  • Usage of innovative technologies for NGOs’ workers in sharing their good practices with others by Fundacja Rozwoju Społeczeństwa Informacyjnego;
  • ERSTE Foundation NGO Academy – regional program;
  • Building digital skills capacities for NGOs in Romania and Moldovia, program developed by TechSoup Association Romania.

All the previous examples prove the necessity  of joining forces from various sectors – business, public, nonprofit, and academic. A complex approach of the members of the Quadriple Helix consortiumQuadruplecilitate the effectiveness of training programs for NGOs.

Welcome to the ATSIV community

ATSIV is an Erasmus+ project, aiming at actively contributing to the professional development of the NGO workers.  In order to achieve this aim, the following actions are considered:

  • complex research aiming to understand the state and the needs of training in NGOs across the region;
  • Co-creation with quadruple helix stakeholders (society, policymakers, NGO workers, industry, academia, etc) in an open innovation manner – game-based curricula that will enable NGO workers to upgrade their competencies;
  • Develop an open virtual learning/co-creation & training environment – VLE in order to support virtual mobility towards enabling active citizenship and social cohesion, reduce financial & disability barriers to transnational cooperation.

If you are interested in being part of the ATSIV community, register at the ATSIV newsletter by emailing us: [email protected]. The newsletter permits you to:

  • find when the platform of training through gaming is available;
  • examples of good practices;
  • new relevant research.