Community Organising LAB - coLAB

Community Organising LAB – coLAB is a space for colLABoration between 4 (+1) organizations each from one country of the V4 region.
The aim of coLAB is to create a Tool-Box for trainers and community organisers based on the community organising methodology combined with community development and the principles of Teal Management (described by Frederic Laloux).

GeeksforGeeks This project is financially supported by Visegrad Fund.

The project coLAB is composed from two big parts:

1) The first part is focused on an online training course combined with personal mentoring and dozens of hours of practice for new community organisers from each involved organisation.

2) Second part of the project is about implementing various methodologies of community work and Teal Management principles within involved organisations and their target groups.

By recording, reflecting and evaluating these two parts we create an online Tool-Box for the future trainings of organisers and other organisations to learn about CO and Teal Management.

coLAB Tool-Box

Basic Facts on Community Organising

Community organizing is a revolutionary political activity geared towards social change. This involves building structures of power around material struggles, which can endure and grow over time to yield tangible change for the base.

Four Types of Community Interventions

There are four fundamental strategies available to address community problems: community organizing, advocacy, service delivery and community development. There is no right or wrong strategy – every community needs all four strategies, to some degree. Each group should specialize – the skills needed to do a good job in one are seldom those needed for another. Sometimes, groups use a combination of strategies. What is important here is that you know what you’re doing – that the method matches the strategy you’ve chosen and they both match the mission the group has adopted.

Community organizing is characterized by the mobilizing of volunteers. Staff roles are limited to helping volunteers become effective, to guiding the learning of leaders through the process, and helping to create the mechanism for the group to advocate on their own behalf. Community organizing almost always includes confrontation of some sort. When the people who want something get themselves together to ask for it, often the people who could give them what they want get jumpy. Community organizing strategies include meeting with corporate or government decision makers to hold them accountable for their actions, designing programs that meet the needs of the community for others (not the group) to implement, and aggressive group action to block negative developments or behaviors (for example, highway construction that leads to neighborhood destruction).

Advocacy and Service Delivery are both characterized by doing FOR people. Often professionals like lawyers or social workers will attack a problem on behalf of those perceived as unable to speak for themselves. Job referral services, social work, training for job readiness, homeownership counseling, business plan preparation training – these are methods which fit into the Advocacy or Service Delivery strategy. The advantage of these approaches is that they alleviate the problem relatively fast. The downside is that they don’t always tackle the root of the problem, so the community is not prepared when the same or other problems surface.

Community development is a strategy that gets the group directly into the business of delivering a physical product. Generally, groups select a development strategy because the normal course of events is not meeting the area’s needs. The profit motive either does not bring private developers into the area – they can’t make enough money – or it brings them in to do the wrong thing – they are converting moderate cost rental units into yuppie condos. Development could mean housing or commercial or even industrial development. Development methods require, like the other two strategies, particular skills. Many groups have struggled to achieve good results in housing development with staff whose training, experience and interests are in community organizing, causing pain and suffering for the group and the staff. This is unfair. If we understand the distinction between the strategies, we can see the different resources needed for the methods that fit within them. 

Power & „Stairs“ into the Community

We are still working on this topic. Check other topics 😉

Asset Based Community Development & Community Mapping

Asset-based Community Development

Is a glass half empty or half full? Each of the two answers – half full or half empty – will lead us to a different perception of things. The first will support us more in realising what we have (glass filled with water) while the latter might direct us to what we lack (water in the glass). In community work, we could give other names to those two approach, the first is lin´ked to asset-based (looking at available resources) approach while the other is called needs-based or problem-based approach (looking at deficiencies). To know more, you can have a look at a comparison of these two. If you wish to see an example showing such differences in action, you can watch this video.

Let´s test the difference. Look at the picture below – what do you see?  Write down all the things. Then look at the picture again and at a separate part of the paper oar another one write down answers to: What resources do you see? After you have finished, compare the two lists. What is the same? What is different?


Even though both approach are practice across the world, we will focus on the first, the asset-based approach within communities.

ABCD, or Asset-based Community Development, is based on several hypotheses. 

  • Resources are everywhere around us.
  • There are many resources that are not visible at a first sight, we need to really look to see them
  • We do not consider many things as being resources
  • Development is not about getting more, it is about using what we already have better
  • Apart from material or physical resources, people have resources inside them as well
  • Each of us has resources that can do a lot of good for ourselves and others. The minimum resource that we all have at our disposal is our life experience. Yet, there is so much more that we do give ourselves credit for.
  • Using resources together in a community creates cooperation instead of competition. It creates a support network that makes stronger individuals as much as the whole community.
  • The community mathematics is not 1 + 1 = 2, it actually is 1 + 1 = 5x, each resources we start using together creates way more potential than if we use it just by ourselves.

Assets or resources

What those resources might be? The following diagram shows one of the ways how to look at variety of resources present in communities

The diagram can help us while mapping the community to make sure that something is not forgotten. The physical aspects refers to spaces, materials, equipment or anything else that can be weighed and measured. Local economy looks not only at local businesses but also at produce, handicraft or anything else that could be economically of some value but also the business opportunities there are that might at the moment be just a hobby or a voluntary action. The economic aspects of a community also focus on what financial resources people have available, what they spend money on (and what not) and how their financial situation is overall. A community will look differently if 30% of young people still in high school with no permanent income and their parents (who might or might not be a part of that community) being financially responsible for them from a community in which 30% are young parents with small kids and even more differently from a community, in which retired business people create 30% of the community.


 Individuals mean the competences (skills, knowledge attitudes and values) of the people inhabiting the community, their relationships and diversity (not only in their backgrounds, but also education, interests, dreams or wishes, values etc.) – the more diverse our community is the more resilient it can become. At least that is what is indicated by more and more research.

Associations stand for NGOs, interest groups, informal groups or any other gathering of people with common interests doing something together. It seems that in Central and Eastern Europe the recent trend is moving away from the official formal organisations towards the informal and many times more personal setting.

Last but not least, there are also institutions in each community, it can be the official governmental authorities, but in the category we can also find schools, hospitals, public transport services or, believe it or not, also police can be a resource as much as fire fighters, libraries or media.

Why are we actually talking about all of this?

It’s pretty simple, really. Because any time you start to develop an idea in or for your community, you can use the asset-based approach from the very start. Instead of looking at how to solve the problem rather look at what and who has resources in the community to be able to change the problem into an opportunity. And to give you a very practical support, here you can find a whole handbook that will guide you through developing your project idea based on the ABCD approach


by Monika Novosádová

Mapping the community

Terms and definitions

COMMUNITY MAPPING means when community and its members are providing data about a specific topic, so it means the data is not collected by any authorities. Typical examples are city improvements actions, housing problems, local weather information, rain and cloud tracking or tracking rare or invasive animal, plant species.


  • website where people could report about bad roads, Bratislava and Slovakia.
  • website where people can report about any problems that concerns public spaces (road) Budapest and other towns in Hungary. After the incidence is reported the volunteers of Jarokelo start to proceed to solve the problem.
  • European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. As a joint initiative of Butterfly Conservation Europe and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, this website is a home for promoting butterfly monitoring schemes across Europe. The website is providing clear methods how to monitor the butterflies, people can register and contribute data.

MAPPING THE COMMUNITY means when one is willing to gather information about  a community and aims to have a deeper understanding of a community. We can talk about two types of communities: interest or value based (LGBTQ+ communities, football clubs, senior clubs, homeless people association), or geographically identified community (all citizens of a district or town). The carry out a mapping requires a neutral approach from the observer to really be able to see what is the current state of a community.

It is very important to note that a mapping process is already an intervention that could influence the unique internal processes of a community. While doing the mapping we can build relations and trust. We need to be aware that with the questions and topics raised in the mapping process can already influence the reality and therefore it can be used or seen as a tool for facilitation initiatives or supporting change within the community.

What could we map?

The topics of the mapping can be diverse. We collected the following ones with the participants.

  • Natural environment
  • Demographic information
  • Who are the members of the community
  • People’s needs
  • Relationships
  • Existing groups/communities
  • Networks, connections
  • Leaders
  • What they already tried to solve the specific problems
  • Communication channels
  • People’s values, goals, dreams, fears
  • Real and perceived threats
  • Resources

You can read many case studies on different mapping processes that aimed to initiate social change in the ‘This is not an Atlas’ book. A film about the book is available here (English version with Hungarian subtitle).

Methods of mapping

Desk research is a research that you do at your desk. Whether before you go out to the field, community or after you made some interviews and you would like to cross check what people told.

Observation is an act of noticing, perceiving, regarding attentively or watching for some purpose (to gain information). The point is that you keep yourself outside and don’t start to interact with the people, spaces, events you are observing. It sounds easy, but it can be challenging to stay in this neutral mode, not to react, not to interact. You can sharpen your observation skills while practicing meditation, where the main focus is to observe what we sense and see without judgement.

More information on that: here

Surveys/questionnaires are an easy format to spread in communities, especially nowadays with the available online tools that help us to create questionnaires and collect the answers as well. The practical tools are in our hands but still the mastery of creating the questions needs more explorations.  How do we formulate the questions, what should come first and what after it?

You can read more on that topic here

Open talks can be a good tool for mapping as well. Sit down somewhere and start to talk to people. Even though ethically is more correct when we introduce ourselves and also introduce why we are interested in certain topics

Interviews are set of questions asked directly from the interviewee face-to-face or nowadays online. Interviews differ from questionnaires as they involve also social interaction. Researchers need training in how to do the interviews. Researchers can ask different types of questions which in turn generate different types of data. For example, closed questions provide people with a fixed set of responses, whereas open questions allow people to express what they think in their own words.

More information of the strength and limitations of interviews you can find here.

Photovoice is a process in which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The pictures can then be used to bring the realities of the photographers’ lives home to the public and policy makers or just to initiate discussion on the topic the pictures where taken of. 

For a detailed description how you can carry out photovoice processes you can visit this website

Emotional or mental maps are a person’s point-of-view perception of their area, living enviornment or any other space. A mental map is a tool to get subjective interpretations of people about a certain territory. 

You can read more here

Focus groups interview is a qualitative approach where a group of respondents are interviewed together, used to gain an in‐depth understanding of social issues. The method aims to obtain data from a selected group of individuals rather than from a statistically representative sample of a broader population. Focus groups allow to see the interaction between the members.

More information on that: here

Walking is a specific way of observing. We can just observe by walking but we can also make interviews while walking and see the interaction between the interviewees and the neighborhood. It can be also individual walks or even group walks.

You can find a scientific text about walking as a method for urban observation.

How to get out of our bubble?

We do research to find out new or unknown information and not for confirmation for what we believe. Ideally it is useful if we can reach those who opinion is unknown for us. Here are few methods that can support this process.

snowball sampling: where existing people recruit future people from among their acquaintances. The sample group grows like a rolling snowball. This sampling technique is often used in hidden, hard to access populations (drug users or sex workers). As sample members are not selected from a sampling frame, snowball samples are subject to numerous biases. For example, people who have many friends are more likely to be recruited into the sample.


door to door survey is method where the interviews are conducted in a concrete area while knocking on the doors of homes to find respondents. This method van be time consuming but when it comes to communities, and especially if we would like to get out of the online reality it is worth to take interviews, questionnaires really by every door and see what we can find.

Further readings on the method.

randomisation is a good method to hack our brain. A concrete example would be when eg. taking interviews with people on a public square. Naturally we would stand ont he square and look for those who ’look like’ asnwering our questions. Therefor we would really influence whom we would ask. Of course we could ask everybody, but for that we dont have a capacity. Than we can create rules, random rules: we ask only every 4th person, you can even use a dice and change it every hour what would be your random number.

by Cecília Lohász

Base Building & One-on-Ones

Base Building

After the mapping the community – including door knocking/snowball approach – the organiser ends up with a list of contacts of the people whom they want to involve into building a base.

Your base will be basically everyone:

  1. whom you approach and talk to
  2. whom you define as a potentional leader – according to their competences (including their time capacity)
  3. and who will come to your meeting

In time – after the first meeting – you will slowly see a structure of your community leaders:

Core Leaders are aligned with the organisation’s values, vision and mission. They are a strong part of the organisation – ready to take action. They have the capacity – time, skills, knowledge, attitude, values & motivation – to act as an organiser and a bridge between the organisation and the community (organisations target group).

Leaders & Active Members of the organisation are actively involved in campaigns and actions of the organisation. They are go-to members for events and specific actions. Typically they can connect on an issue level.

Members usually attend the meetings/actions. They have a limited role in planning, because they are in a development stage – they are gaining their capacity and aligning w/ organisation. (typical example are organisation’s volunteers) 

Potential Members are people interested in organisation and its activities. They share their contact w/ the organiser and express their interest to learn more.

Community Members may know about the organisation, but have not been reached through one-on-one outreach. They are affected by the issues.

(based on the description from Rusia Mohiuddin, Universal Partnership)


In order to build a core of leaders, there is a need to understand leaders personal “cores” – their motivation, passion, psychological criteria and sometimes even trauma. 

When it comes to community organizing, there is no substitute for direct person-to-person interaction. Personal interaction and shared experience establish the strongest bonds, and provide the most compelling incentive for engagement. This is why one-on-ones are a bedrock technique for bringing new people into chapters and teams, for developing leaders, and for maintaining relationships with active members. 

One-on-One Meetings (1:1s) are intentional, pre-scheduled meetings with a member, potential member or community member to build a public relationship and to exchange information that ultimately reveals their “core” and possibly connects them to the organisation. A successful 1:1 meeting ends with a commitment to take action that includes a specific date, time, and goal. 

Preparing for a one-on-one meeting

1. Identify people who might be interested in your organization. Think about your community networks. They could be neighbors, classmates, colleagues, community members, or family members. You can also go to community events to talk about your issue with folks and invite anyone who is interested to have a one-on-one with you. 

2. Do some preparation.

 • What do you already know about the person you’re meeting with? 

• What questions do you want to ask them? 

• What do you want to share about your experience? 

• What commitment do you want to get, and how do you want to make your request? 

3. Set a time and location for the meeting, and be intentional about the setting. 

• Are you going to be able to talk about some potentially personal things? If so, is the environment suited for that? 

• Is the person going to have to spend money at that location? 

• If there’s food involved, check-in with the person to see if they have any dietary restrictions or preferences to keep in mind. 

4. Follow up with the person two days ahead of time and on the day of the one-on-one confirm that they’re planning to meet with you. 

Learn more about One-on-Ones on

Women’s March Network & Resident Action Project


summarized by Juraj Víg

Building a Core & Facilitating a Meeting

Facilitating a group/community meeting

When it comes to community meetings – round tables with community leaders & working groups – it is all about effectiveness and relationship building.

People usually join those meetings after their working hours instead of spending time with their family and friends. That means that a meeting needs to be effective. One of the ways to have an effective meeting is to have a facilitator. At first it could be the organizer, but later it is efficient to rotate this role or let the meeting participants choose someone among themselves.

What is a facilitation?

Every book and every facilitator describes facilitation differently, but there are two basic interpretations on which they all agree.

According to the broader one, facilitation eases the process of achieving the goal of an individual, group, organization… or even a country. In general, this means that facilitation is a set of all the activities we can do to make things go smoothly towards their goal.

Here facilitation is perceived as a superset or „a sibling“ of coaching, mediation, mentoring, moderation, lecturing and learning, or sometimes even supervision.

The narrow interpretation of facilitation focuses on group gatherings, such as work meetings or trainings. Aleš Bednařík defines facilitation as an activity of “making the discussion process easier so that communication goes efficiently and the participants obtain the results for which they came together.“

Basic principles of facilitation

The whole facilitation process can be summarized in 2 + 1 basic activities:

  1. The facilitator actively listens to what the participants in the group say.
  2. The facilitator asks questions – mostly open questions, which lead the discussion towards the set goal.
  3. Alternatively, the facilitator writes down the ideas, comments and outputs that the group came up with.

During these activities, the role of the facilitator is:

  • to keep the structure – ensures that each step is related to achieving the goal
  • to keep time – to be time efficient
  • to create a psychologically safe environment
  • to ensure that everyone involved has a chance to express their position.

Achieving the group’s goal can also be, for example:

  • assigning tasks for the next week
  • defining strategic goals and plans for the next five years
  • or inventing the latest advertising campaign for a client.

Last but not least: the facilitator tends to be an external figure that does not directly interfere with the content of the meeting, but only keeps it within certain boundaries for effective progress. For this reason, it is sometimes appropriate to arrange for an external meeting facilitator, so that all participants – team / community members – can be fully involved in the meeting content.

TIP for quick group decisions:

Five-finger technique

If you have a lot of people in a group during your meeting and little time to discuss all the opinions on the topic, try this simple technique. Ask people to express their attitude by showing 1-5 fingers. Personally, I define 5 fingers as maximum agreement and 1 finger as disagreement.

After all participants show their settings, ask for a verbal statement from those who voted with one, two, or three fingers (depending on how much time you have left). 

You can learn more about facilitation and get some tips and tricks on how to facilitate a group and how to deal with “difficult” participants in these videos:

by Juraj Víg

Organiser’s Roles – Guiding Leadership

Transactional Analysis as a Leader Tool

Manager – organiser – leader. How does a manager take up the role of a leader? What exactly does a leader do? To what extent should a leader care about their colleagues? Let’s take a view from one possible perspective.

Disclaimer: when we talk about managers, we also mean organisers, teachers, trainers or coaches. 

In the 1960s Eric Berne came up with several revolutionary concepts that influenced today’s psychology and the general way we work with people. One of his most famous books is “Games People Play”.

What is it all about?

According to Berne, the basic unit of people’s interaction (social contact) is a so-called transaction. If there are two or more people in the same room, sooner or later one of them will give a signal by which he/she acknowledges the existence of the others. If others react to that impulse, we can call it a TRANSACTION. Should this transaction bring us any benefit (or pleasure), we call it a GAME. Every game has its players who are playing their ROLES. These roles are chosen consciously, or – in most cases – unconsciously, based on their EGO STATE. And this is where things get interesting and complicated at the same time.

The 3 Ego States

We perceive the states of our Ego as a complex phenomenon of thinking, feeling and behaving. The first state evolved within us already in early childhood, this is what Berne calls “the Child”. When we get into this state as adults, we act as our childhood self would. This ego state has two polarities: the playful/submissive child and the stubborn/defiant child.

If our actions (thinking, feeling and behaving) are in line with the people who raised us, we are reaching the ego state of “the Parent”. As a Parent we are shifting between the critical/lecturing and the caretaking parent.

When we are able to rationally evaluate the situation in the given moment, and observe the emotions of the Child and the Parent, we are getting into the state of “the Adult”. As we are shifting between the ego states according to our current needs, we can take up several different roles in a conversation in a matter of seconds.

How does this game look like?

I used to spend a lot of time with my grandparents as a child. They lived in a big (that time even modern) flat with a lot of doors which had crystal glass filling. Behind one of those doors an old sewing machine was hidden. I was extremely fascinated by its mechanism – especially by the foot pedal and the wheel. Even today it makes me smile when I see an old Singer used as a coffee table in a bar.

One day, as I was exploring this machine behind the door at grandma’s, I accidentally smashed the door and the glass in it got broken. This was followed by the sound of breaking and falling glass. This signal made my grandma check what happened. After a quick visual revision of my health status – I didn’t have a scratch – she asked:

Grandma: “Who did this?”

I – still a little shocked: “A dwarf.”

Grandma put her hands on her hips and raised her eyebrows: “You know that you shouldn’t lie.”

My grandma’s question might look like a question of an “Adult” looking for factual information. On a psychological level, however, it prompted a challenge to lie – and I accepted it. It was then followed by a lesson on good behaviour from my grandma’s “Parent”. Of course, my grandma didn’t plan to catch me “at the crime scene”. It was her ego state giving me a lesson – just as she used to get it from her parents. (This memory came back to me after reading a similar example in the book Games People Play.)

The question that emerges from the story is whether I needed to be taught a lesson or it was grandma’s “Parent” that needed to take care of me (quick visual control of any injuries) and reprimand me afterwards? In both cases, we both played our roles in the game.

Drama Triangle in Games

In connection with Berne’s work we should also take a look at the Drama Triangle theory by Karpman. According to this, every drama needs a “Victim” and every Victim has their “Perpetrator” and/or “Saviour”. Combining the two approaches, we can conclude that every Child has/looks for their Parent and vice versa.

Surrounded by the broken glass from the door, I was a Victim who had his Saviour (grandma), who shifted into the role of the Perpetrator. Together we played all three roles of the Drama Triangle and we both gained something from it. Additionally, I learned how to become a skilled player in the role of the Victim. After all, we learn how to behave in these games as early as in childhood.

Now let’s see how all this looks like at our workplace.

Employee A: “That new colleague C doesn’t follow our deadlines and doesn’t answer my emails.”

Manager B: “Yeah, that sucks. Colleague C is very irresponsible.”

On the visible social level this is a communication between two Adults – an exchange of factual information and an agreement with the status quo. But let’s look deeper into the psychological level: 

Employee A is having a hard time working together with the new Colleague C. He comes to Manager B and complains – communicates from as a Child / Victim. Manager B shows regret and identifies the Persecutor in the Drama Triangle. Thus, he communicates as the Parent / Rescuer. The gain (or pleasure) for Employee A is the feeling of reassurement that he is a good, efficient employee, whereas Manager B can maintain his position as a manager who takes care of his employees or reprimands them. The problem is that Manager B did not help Employee A in the long run. He simply supported the game in this triangle, so they can go play it tomorrow as well.

How can a manager help?

Me: „Colleague P isn’t replying to my emails again and the project partners are already asking me when they will receive the reports.“

Colleague M: “Call him. You need to set up the appropriate communication channels / collaboration together.”

Yes, this situation was „played“ in our Open Game office 🙂 Although my colleague Martin is not my manager, he is a „senior“. I came to him playing the Child / Victim – the role that I learned when the glass broke at my grandma’s. Martin gave me the tools – factual information – needed to satisfy my needs. He reacted as an Adult and consciously avoided jumping into the role of the Savior. And by that, he changed something else as well: he disrupted the dynamics between the Child and the Parent and made me enter the Adult ego state.

This is a very significant change: by taking up the role of the Adult, Martin transformed the originally destructive Saviour-Persecutor-Victim triangle into a constructive one, thus changing the roles to Guide-Challenge-Leader. In this triangle, the Persecutor is replaced by a Challenge which can be solved with the help of a Guide (and not a Saviour), so there is no Victim any more – you become your own (Personal) Leader.

This transformation didn’t lead to a miraculous change in the relationship between my colleague and I for a while. The situation with P repeated several times afterwards. The difference was that we both learned from our previous experience and gradually set the appropriate communication channels, defined work priorities and talked openly about my frustration and his exhaustion.

Interrupting my game helped me solve not only this conflict, but a lot more. By repeating similar situations, I can now recognize that this is a game and thanks to this, I can actively shift to the Adult ego state in communication – and to the role of the Guide in my work as a trainer.

Being a leader can take many forms. It does not necessarily mean being a manager or a senior colleague. Definitions of leadership vary from one theory to another. In our office, Martin was a leader for me and I became my own Personal Leader – the Hero of my situation and my story.

Reflexion for Community Organisers

How can we „raise“ new leaders in our communities without taking the role of the „Parent“?

What can we do when organising a community around problems – needs – trauma?

Wheat roles are we taking in our community organising?

by Juraj Víg

Campaigning & Direct Actions

We are still working on this topic. Check other topics 😉


Fundraising & Public Speaking


We live in a world where most of society uses money as a payment medium. That means we also need to raise our funds so we can perform our goals and visions – and it doesn’t really matter if we are profit or non-profit organisations. 

I personally very much like a definition of one coLAB participant, who described fundraising as “making decisions which drive the direction of the organisation and seeking support for them”. By this “definition” it also doesn’t matter what kind of organisation we are talking about. 

Of course, by fundraising, we are mostly talking about money – but if we go wider we can find this support for organisations in the resources, relationships, and colLABorations. This way being a community organiser sometimes means being a fundraiser. Starting by putting people together, building relationships, looking for the resources within the community and out of it – ending by collecting money for the community’s activities or/and the organisers fee – because, well, we all need some money to pay checks.

Steps of fundraising strategy

On the Internet / in the books, you may find dozens of approaches on how to create a fundraising strategy and fundraising campaign. For the purpose to make this process as universal as possible I define 5+1 steps you should go through if making your fundraising strategy (or a campaign).


FIRST: Define your fundraising WHY

Why do you need to fundraise?

  • What is the purpose of your fundraising?
  • What is the need?

What is the situation in your organisation? … community? … team?

  • Look at all the resources around you. (people, know-how, facilities, …)

(It might help you to go back to your situation analysis from ABCD community)

What are you fundraising for?

  1. Define the “product” people are willing to pay for 
  • e.g. buying a t-shirt from Amnesty International means buying justice for unfairly imprisoned people and supporting human rights awareness raising
  1. Find the message (the emotion) behind the “product” 
  • How does this “product” contribute to the world?
  • What does your organisation/community bring to society?
  • Why should people buy this product – why should they support your organisation/community?

SECOND: MAP the potential donors

Do you remember Mapping the Community?

If you have done this step of community organising you have saved a lot of work for yourself now. Part of the mapping the community could also be mapping the potential donors – the very first source for fundraising is the community itself and all the stakeholders or people involved in communities activities. This involvement can be even some emotional connection to the topic of community activities, activities of the organisation, or mission, and values of the organisation.

In your fundraising mapping you should also focus on the question:

Are you catching a lot of small fish or one whale?

Having a whale might save the whole community for a very long time, but have you ever pulled a whale out of the sea? It takes a lot of preparation, adaptation of your PLANs, and work to slice the whale. 

Looking for one big donor (corporates, grants, …) might help for a while. Yet there is a question of independence – if someone gives you a lot of money they usually want to have some power in decision making – and values of the organisation and community. 

Would you name your event or even organisation starting with ABSOLUT, if they pay you enough? This is how simple it could be. Maybe we could just name this Tool-box ABSOLUT coLAb and we wouldn’t have to worry about the money. 

By the way, this community organising educational Tool-box is funded by the Visegrad Fund – so yes, sometimes it is nice to find a whale 🙂

Here are some questions to answer when you’re doing your mapping for fundraising strategy:

  • Who are the potential donors?
  • Where are they based? 
  • What’s their „criteria“?
  • Why should they donate?
  • How to contact them? 

THIRD: PLAN your numbers

By planning your numbers I mean to define:

  1. the Deadline
  • Strategy is designed for months or years
  • Campaign usually takes weeks or months
  1. the Amount
  • Amount of money (resources) you need to collect
  • How much will it cost? 
    • What is the fee for people doing fundraising?
    • How many people do you need for this?
    • How much time will it take?
    • What other resources will it cost and what amount?

This step is very much similar to setting up your SMART goals. The acronym SMART stands for:

  • Specific – State what you will do; Use action words
  • Measurable – Define a way to evaluate; Use metrics or data
  • Achievable – Be realistic; Possible to accomplish
  • Relevant – Makes sense for accomplishing your WHY
  • Time-framed – Set up a deadline

FOURTH: Define HOW are you going to fundraise

After you decide if you are aiming for the big donations or individual donors, define the fundraising technique:

  • Are you fundraising online, offline, or both?
  • Is it going to be a one-time event or long-term activity?

Examples of one time events:

auctions & beneficial gatherings (concerts, theatre, movie screening, …), clothes swapping, festivals, food-based events, etc.

Examples of long-term activities:

membership fee, direct marketing techniques (call, email, mail, …), merchandise selling, etc..

One of the approaches could be to look for the activities your organisation is doing and think about how those activities could be transformed into “business products”. For example in Otvorená Hra we are focusing on trainings – thus we offer our services to the business and other organisations.

Who else is involved?

Once somebody makes a donation you have some kind of relationship with them. If they gave you some donation in the past – try to contact them and learn what was their motivation that time and try to “convert” them into “regular donors”. Regular donors and donors who gave you bigger amounts of money are usually somehow connected to the topic and/or values and mission of your organisation. That means they are the perfect candidates to become the ambassadors of your message and organisation. Ask them and welcome them on board – they would be no more just donors but a part (members) of some bigger idea you are all working on. 

FIFTH: DO your fundraising!

After all that preparation there is a time for action! 

If you are organising a fundraising event there are some things you should think about as well: How are you going to manage PR? 

Is there any medium you can use? Television? Radio? Magazines? 

Writing some online articles about the topic? Creating a video about the event?

What about the next steps? What would be a follow-up?

… and do not forget to “record” the moment for future actions 😉

The pictures and videos created from the event might be used as nice marketing material for future fundraising actions. 

SIXTH: Check your WHY again. EVALUATE the process.

During all the time of your fundraising and after your actions – or after your deadline – check again your initial situation. Repeat the very first step and see – What changed? 

  • How (much) were your objectives fulfilled? 
  • How much did you raise?
  • Who was part of the campaign?
  • How did your campaign influence your organisation / community / actions?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • What would you do exactly the same way?
  • If some action didn’t work as planned – why? What happened?

The most important part of the final step: stay in touch with your donors! 

Ask them what medium they prefer to communicate with: newsletters, anniversary (annual) meetings, letters, regular (annual) reports, Zoom calls, etc. … and implement it within your next action.

You can learn more about the steps of fundraising campaigns here
To learn more about creating social change campaign (and fundraising campaign) I can highly recommend this Framing Equality Toolkit by ILGA Europe 2017

by Juraj Víg

Public Speaking

Between Campaigning, Fundraising and Public Speaking

Why do we address the topic of public speaking when working with the community?

„I have a dream …“ is one of the most famous public speeches in the world.The speecht was performed by Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington DC on 28th of August 1963. What is less well known about this speech in our context is that it is essentially a product of community organizing. 

Martin Luther King Jr. became pastor of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. Thus he was more or less used to speaking in public – preaching. King became the face and spokesman of the emancipation movement because of many aspects. One of them was Bayard Rustin, who strongly supported King on his way to the microphones. Rustin showed King the nonviolence, and was an important advisor to King. Rustin was a community organizer.

As an organizer, you represent many roles. Confessor, leader, coordinator, facilitator, mentor, coach, counselor, trainer, motivator, … friend. It takes power to bring about systemic change in a community. Shared community power means power in the public space – filling the public space. Such visibility tends to be key:

  • to motivate people to get involved
  • and to balance the ‚scales‘ in an unequal system.

To bring about change, it is sometimes necessary to be seen and, more importantly, heard.

Story of Self. Us. Now.

One of a leader’s most powerful tools in public speaking is a story – storytelling. Marshal Ganz, a lecturer at Harvard University, teaches a course Public Narrative. It is a narrative – story structure built on three components:

  • Story of Self
  • Story of Us
  • Story of Now

„Stories not only teach us how to act – they inspire us to act. Stories communicate our values through the language of the heart, our emotions. And it is what we feel – our hopes, our cares, our obligations – not simply what we know that can inspire us with the courage to act. “ Marshal Ganz, 2007

The basic parts of the structure can be defined as:

  • Story of Self – Origin Story
    • Where and by whom did it all begin?
    • The story describes the leader’s motivation – why they cares
    • Describes where the leader got their values
  • Story of Us – Change
    • Shared experiences – not just me, but we‚ve experienced it too
    • The story describes that the community cares too
    • Describes the people and the moments when they began to care together
  • Story of Now – A call to action
    • We are facing an important challenge
    • and we offer an opportunity to act on our values

For a more comprehensive theoretical description of the Self-Us-Now structure and an exercise for developing this technique, see the free section of the Harvard Library at this link.

by Juraj Víg


Group Dynamics

Group dynamics

Imagine a situation. There is a room full of people. Some are talking to each other, some standing in a corner by themselves, some walking around. And there are some who are sitting down having a drink or a meal. Imagining such a situation seems to be easy, isn’t it. The harder part is to answer a question: Are they a group? Maybe, maybe not.

What is a group?

How can we recognise a group from just a bunch of individuals randomly appearing in one space at the same time? It seems that there is no agreement on that. If you look in Collins dictionary, there are 5 different descriptions defining a group there. It’s starting with a description you´ve read above (“A group of people or things is a number of people or things which are together in one place at one time.”) upto a description that might fit better an explanation of a team (“A group is a set of people who have the same interests or aims, and who organize themselves to work or act together.”) So, let’s assume that somewhere in between these two descriptions there lies a group.

In daily reflections more and more people speak of groups as “bubbles” hinting that there are some aspects in each bubble that define it. Some of those aspects might matter more, some might just be informative. For purposes of community work we could say that a group is a number of individuals that share some similar features. At the same time it might also make sense to differentiate such a description  from the one of a team. Team (supposedly) already has a common goal, vision or interest and wishes or needs to act upon it, even if all the mentioned features were developed only by some members of the team or someone else entirely. So teams have a common direction and are involved in action. Groups on the other hand share some characteristics but do not need to or want to act upon them. That is important when we want to active groups in communities – they might still not have a clear vision or goal and/or they might not be interested or motivated to act upon it. Or they might no even be aware yet that they actually are a group. And… Not every group must necessarily become a team. 

What defines a group?

Let’s return to what a group is. The diagram below shows some aspects of groups. To understand them better, let’s have a look at each of them, starting from the more informative ones towards the ones that are more important for community work.


Even sociologists do not agree whether two people are already a group or if the groups start at number 3. That might not matter as much as the fact that with groups size does matter. According to the size of the group, people will have different relations with others, will dare or not to speak, will take up responsibilities. Usually, if groups are too big, they will naturally tend to divide to smaller ones according to some similarities. 


What is the demographics of a group, what is their history (individually and together), their social, economic, educational status? That is the basic information, which can help us understand how to approach a certain group. When working with/in communities that might have experienced some kind of oppression, exclusion or other negative experiences it helps to be also aware of that. It is important to research to understand beforehand. One way is to do community mapping, there is a lot of research and experience with different groups out there.


While the previous theme is about facts, this one is about perceptions. Where would the people like to belong? What matters to them in life? What kind of recognition do they seek? Where do they see themselves in society? Which groups do they feel they belong to? Which ones would they like to belong to? Which they would never want to belong to? All these questions define what social status we search as individuals. Knowing this might help communicate what matters to the people and leave out what might create tension. And, equally important is understanding their perception of themselves as a group. Who are the groups they are ready to make friends with, who do they perceive as enemies or “we will never ever be like them” kind? How they want to be perceived by the outside world? How much do they care about the outside world? What is their relationship to society, other people or other groups?


How do people connect to each other in the group? How do they complement each other? What are their specific assets that they can bring into the group and how does the group make use of it? This topic turns us from individual aspects to common ones. Cohesiveness is about diversity and inclusion, it focuses on ways how individuals as pieces of a group puzzle fit together.


With this topic we are moving into the direction of a team. There are different theories defining composition of roles in groups and in teams. Many are more relevant rather to teams, so let´s have a look at one of those that fit a group as well. There are four categories of roles that are relevant for groups: 

  • Task roles (Task Leader, Information Gatherer, Opinion Gatherers, Devil’s Advocate, Energizer)
  • Social-emotional roles ((Encourager, Follower, Tension Releaser, Compromiser)
  • Procedural roles (Facilitator, Gatekeeper, Recorder)
  • Individual roles (Aggressor, Blocker, Self-Confessor, Playboy or Playgirl, Joker or Clown)

Some of those roles support group building (especially the first two) while others might hinder it (especially the last group of roles) If you would like to know more about that, visit this site.


Rules, standards, principles or taboos. Norms are all the things that explain what is and what is not acceptable in a certain group. Some of those things might be continuously shared or agreed upon while others might be unconscious and unspoken. That also means that some of the norms group members will be able to tell you (“of course, it has always been done like that”) while others we might need to observe ourselves.


Even in groups there is some need for organisation and some people need to be actively working for the benefit of each group. Leadership can be viewed in terms of roles necessary to make sure a group will function. It might be also understood as a way to keep goals and visions in groups alive, so in this sense leadership is guidance towards (a more positive) future. Yet leadership can also be about power. It is still quite common to hear that for a group to function, it needs a strong leader. Does it?

How does a group evolve?

Groups as well as teams evolve. There are stages that help a number of individual units become one organism. Some of those stages are more relevant for teams, yet others are equally important to groups.

Tuckmann described 5 stages of group development. The stages are forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. In each stage, the group and its members focus on different issues to deal with.

In the forming stage, members concentrate on finding their own space in the group, discovering who others are and even think whether they want to be part of the group and under what conditions.

In the storming stage people focus on confirming their place in the group. Divisions into us and them happen very often, strong positions of right and wrong may appear and creating a common agreement might be close to impossible.

The norming stage turns the chaos into order. In this stage the group defines what is share and what group members want to have in common and what, on contrary, does not need to be shared by all group members.

Very often these two stages repeat themselves several times. Sometimes, groups do not even manage to move past them before the saying good-bye moment comes knocking at the door.

Performing is the moment when everything runs smoothly, each member of the group knows their place and role and everyone works their best for the benefit of the group (and its goal if there is one). 

Adjourning is the farewell, it is the moment when to close, evaluate what happened, celebrate the successes and say good-bye. This phase is often underestimated, especially when working in communities when it seems that people will be there forever. Yet, there might be many things that actually bring a group to its natural end. Some people leave, others join, the event you organised is over, the topic you were focusing on has changed. All of these, and many more, are moments when the specific group that you have established starts to change, the group won´t be the same anymore – so it needs to go through the previous stages again. Maybe the stages will take less time or maybe they won’t be as demanding as they were previously, yet they do need to happen. 

Groups and communities – why does it matter?

To make things simple – working with a community means working with a group, not only with individuals. To make things more complicated – there is not just one group in a community. There are more. And usually each of the groups is in a different stage of development, each approaches other groups differently and might or might not be open to cooperate or even to talk to each other. Knowing what groups there are, what their relationships are and what history they carry with them might help us support the community in becoming an actual community, where people interact, share and care.

by Monika Novosádová

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