TEA BREAK WITHDORIEN BEURSKENS
What kicks off your Monday morning?
Recognizing the tremendous need of young people for skills and empowerment as well as their desire to have a purpose and to contribute to a better world, while knowing that our solution contributes to lifting their purpose, is what drives me to work crazy hours and to put all my energy in my work!
For twenty one years, Young Africa International has been my entire life. I live and breathe the organization. For me, being the CEO of Young Africa International it is not a job per se, it is rather a life of dedication and I love it! I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
What inspires you in the NGO and fundraising sector?
It truly inspires me not just to see the change that we are making in the lives of young people through our work but also to be surrounded by dedicated and talented colleagues. My first partner at work, the co-founder of Young Africa International, is also my partner in life. It really is a 1+1=3 equation. Indeed, our organization started with the dream of two people. When I see the results of our growth and how people are dedicating their lives with us to empower the youth, I feel invigorated. The fuel on which we run the whole year is the graduation ceremonies at the end of courses. Seeing the joy of the graduates and their families is unprecedently rewarding.
The fuel on which we run the whole year is the graduation ceremonies we attend. Seeing the joy of the graduates and their families is unprecedently rewarding.
I am also inspired by innovation and social entrepreneurship, and totally uninspired by career NGOs. By such terminology, I mean to emphasize the trends of being constantly audited — or policed — by funders through project cycles only. I think that such processes focus on control instead of trust, and steal time away from NGOs. Sometimes you are busier managing your donor than carrying out your mission.
What helps you do your job well?
Competent colleagues, both African and European!
What trends do you foresee for the future of fundraising?
I hope to see more co-creation between donors and implementors. Indeed, donors have the financial resources but they don’t have the operational skills and teams. Implementors on the other hand have the skills and the team, but don’t have the resources to conduct their actions. Both donors and implementors cannot create impact on their own. It is essential that they collaborate to achieve their common goal: positive change. Donors finance, we implement. Both positions are important.
Both donors and implementors cannot create impact on their own. It is essential that they collaborate to achieve their common goal: positive change.
I would love to see more synergy, mutual understanding, and co-creation of programs on the basis of equality, trust and transparency.
Which organizations inspire you?
I am an Ashoka fellow. I deeply appreciate the quality of the network they create as well as the support they provide to their fellows. Their work really focuses on insuring the collective impact of their network; which I think is amazing.
Also, for the first time this year, Young Africa International is a beneficiary of the Nationale Postcode Loterij. While attending the gala, I could fathom the mind-blowing collective impact that they finance! I also appreciate their model, i.e. selling lottery tickets and using half of the money to create positive change. Their work is based on trust and not on control, which is wonderful.
What do you consider the most important quality of a fundraiser?
It is essential for a fundraiser to be able to connect donors to the cause defended by the organization. The best way to make potential partners believe in what your organization stands for – and make them want to give – is by bringing them into your world. Show them first hand both your work and the impact you create. Invite them to key places and events (e.g. a training center, a graduation ceremony), make them meet, smell, see each stakeholder as well as the work on the ground.
The best way to make potential partners believe in what your organization stands for – and make them want to give – is by bringing them into your world.
Of course, our organization is based in Africa and the reality is that most of our donors come from other parts of the world, mostly Europe. We then put the emphasis on our communication strategy and focus on bringing Africa, the culture, the people and the work we do to our audience in Europe. For them to, even from a distance, get to know the everyday wonders that are happening at our training centers.
A final word?
It is good to be rebellious at times, to challenge the status quo. I don’t believe in solving problems but in going beyond your problems. Change the system so that your problems become irrelevant.
CEO of Young Africa International
About the series
Have you ever wondered whether you had more in common with your peers than just your passion for making a difference? Through informal interviews, we explore the ultimate drives of fundraising professionals, donors and association’s leaders, as well as their secrets for successful Mondays and their insights about the NGO and fundraising sector. Grab a cup and read on!
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