February 15, 2011
Fever pitch excitement at IAVE World Conference climax
After a nail-biting finale reminiscent of a reality television competition, YWCA from Rwanda and Osmijeh from Bosnia and Herzegovina shared the honors at The Pitch to find the best volunteer proposal. But more than handing out large sums of prize money to fund the winning proposal, The Pitch was designed to help volunteer organizations present their programs in a succinct and persuasive way to win over corporate sponsors.
The Pitch - Thursday 27 January 2011
Resorts World Sentosa
21st IAVE World Volunteer Conference 24-27 January 2011 Singapore
The last event of the conference was a competition - The Pitch - presented by UBS, who flew in the finalists to Singapore and donated US$75,000 in prize money. A panel of experts had the choice to award US$60,000 to one presenter or divide the sum between several winners; and the audience could vote for a winner to receive US$15,000.
Hands On Manila - The Philippines
The first presentation by Hands On Manila from the Philippines started with two volunteers speaking in tandem about the “sherpa” program. The sherpas help manage volunteer projects, represent the organization guide projects. This time Hands On decided to bring the project to a new level, concentrating on the 50% of the Philippines population that is under 24. Young people are the hope of the future.
Asked by the panel about concrete outcomes, on of Hands On’s sherpas explained that she was in charge of the program for the elderly. To a question about metrics - the number of sherpas, the hours they serve, and the number who stayed with the program in the last ten years. Asked about how much funding they were looking for, the presenter said she wanted to reach more young people. If they received the award, one of the sherpas said Hands On would expand the sherpa program to the community level.
Navnet - Kenya
The National Volunteer Network Trust (Navnet) of Kenya is the only national volunteer organization that recruits volunteers in the country. Dr. Abdulmalik T. Gichuki said Navnet recruits, trains, places, and manages volunteers; and also lobbies the government. Youth leader Agnetta M. Nyalita said Navnet was seeking funding for the youth program to mobilize 120 youth ambassadors who would help combat the problems of 40% of Kenyans living on under US$2 a day, the 7% of youth who have HIV/AIDS. These 120 ambassadors would go out and train 15,000 youths in areas of entrepreneurship, centers of excellence, business incubation, exchanges with mentors, and create an online platform.
Agnetta explained that the money would be used to train social entrepreneurs. Abdulmalik said Navnet has a pool of professionals to train the youth. The program is an existing project, which will be scaled up with additional funding. In answer to a question about sustainability, Agnetta said the youths would be supplied with computers and other technical tools to get their projects off the ground. The project would be measured by the number of youths who were reached, and the number of enterprises that got off the ground.
Osmijeh (SMILE) - Bosnia and Herzegovina
In 1996, after the Bosnian war Osmijeh wanted to bring a smile back to people’s faces. While it has been easier to reconstruct homes and buildings, it has been more difficult to rebuild shattered lives. Osmijeh’s volunteers are from 10-100 years old, but their focus is youth. Osmijeh wants to make youth agents of change, add to social capital. In the short-term, the objectives of Osmijeh are to develop community and school-based models of youth volunteering combined with civic education; youth mental health protection, improve the well-being of persons in need. The longer-term objectives are democracy building. Prize money from the pitch would provide a friendly environment for volunteers.
Explaining what that meant in the question and answer session, the presenter explained it was difficult to raise money for program costs, provide incentives, and expand the volunteer program to other counties of the country.
Volunteer 21 - Korea
Teresa from Volunteer21 presented the Asia Volunteer Network program. The context of volunteering in Asia came from the Buddhist philosophy compassion, justice, altruism and philanthropy. However, more was needed to train volunteer managers and combat the destructive influence of governments on the sector. Asia is a diverse region with some areas of commonality that could be connected through a strong civil society. Volunteer21’s Asia Volunteer Network would help build solidarity and possibility, making a platform to share tools. The four components of the program are: (1) think together - through a regional conference, (2) share together - through exchange activies, (3) act together - through an Asia Action Day, and (4) change together - with a 10% increase in participation in 2 years and 20% increase in volunteering.
Established in 1996, Volunteer21 has an established network with organizations like IAVE and Hands On. In answer to a question about the ambitious nature of the project, Teresa said she could work through Volunteer21’s existing network. Asked about the unique nature of the network, the presenter said her experience showed her that materials from other countries could be adapted to local needs. On funding, Volunteer21 said the division of resources between the program elements.
YWCA - Rwanda
The Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) of Rwanda said the small and poor country in central Africa had over 1 million orphans. YWCA has 1,400 volunteers across the country, and runs women’s empowerment and HIV/AIDS programs. The objectives are to combat isolation and protect rights. The Giving Hope program involves community volunteer mentors, who are supported by YWCA staff and local authorities. With funding, YWCA could reach 200 more orphans, at a cost of US$365 each.
Since it is an existing program, the presenter said extra funding would help YWCA train volunteers with study tours at a cost of US$85 each, and give US$356 to the families of orphans. The presenter said YWCA already had over 2,000 mentors and 16,000 beneficiaries, but was working in only 11 districts - with additional funding the program could be extended to another two districts. The large number of volunteers are coordinated at a district level, and then up to the national center.
Audience winner - YWCA Rwanda
The winner of the audience pitch and the prize of US$15,000 was the YWCA Rwanda. To explain the panel’s decision, one of the judges and the director of the Lien Centre for Social Innovation, Willie Cheng, said the purpose of The Pitch was to help volunteer organizations present their message in a compelling and persuasive way. The judges had the benefit of written submissions from the candidates, but nevertheless had a hard time coming to a decision.
Commenting on each of the proposals, Willie said Hands On Manila scored high on feasibility and sustainability, though they could have been more ambitious. Navnet Kenya liked the impact of the program, and found the proposal the most thought-provoking. Osmijeh presented a realistic but very touching proposal. Volunteer21 was the only organization that presented a new proposal, and was the most ambitious of the bunch. Finally, YWCA Rwanda presented very well-thought-out and concrete goals, and was the most “needy” of all the proposals. After considering splitting the amount between all five, the judges thought it would be a bit of a copout, so they decided to award the amount to two winners.
Judges' winners - YWCA & Osmijeh
The judges first choice and winner of US$30,000 was YWCA Rwanda, and the winner of the second US$30,000 was Osmijeh from Bosnia. It an extra-special moment for Osmijeh’s presenter Aveda, whose birthday it was that day.
Finally, judge and sponsor of The Pitch, Christine Ong, the chief executive officer of wealth management at UBS Singapore, thanked everyone from UBS, including the conference volunteers, for their support.