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 Recharge: addressed to operating NGOs with an outdated organizational structure that supports beneficiaries unable to turn to other entities for help and are facing severe financial viability issues.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!