These were the questions we asked when we invited two of our guests to record a podcast on the subject. We spoke to Leonora Dér, from a young self-organising group that has developed into the Valley Town Association in two years, and Andrea Bálint, coordinator of the GYIÖT (Children and Youth Self-Governing Association), which also works on youth involvement methodology.
(On this topic, we recommend you to listen to our previous interview with Greenpeace Hungary and Amigos here)
Are there any trending topics?
We were curious to find out what is the most relevant topic that could be a link between NGOs and young people. The following emerged from our discussions with our guests:
Indeed, if we look at the trends, the growing demand for recycling and green solutions is generated mainly by younger people. But the term "climate crisis" has also entered the international vocabulary - just turn on the news to see dozens of images of the consequences of extreme weather on every continent, or simply look out of a window in Budapest at the snowdrops blooming in January.
media and communication: radio, video production and editing, podcast recordings...
Generation Y and Z have grown up in the age of computers and the internet, they are 'digital natives' and their use of these is more natural and important than that of the 'digital immigrant' generation before them. They are also more likely to see the online and digital space as a means of communication as both natural and more effective.
animal rescue, children's camping
Both our interviewees clearly confirmed that it is very important for young people to see the results of the energy invested quickly and tangibly. There is no doubt that visible results are the best positive reinforcement. A rescued pet, but also a smile on a child's face or a well-organised camp that provides a community experience and, moreover, a time-limited participation, can be a popular and good connection point for a reason.
How can we connect?
Let's be open up!
For many NGOs, the ageing of their staff and volunteers is already a real challenge, and they need to plan for this at some point. But it is not just numbers that are a challenge: beyond the number of staff attached to the tasks and thus the smooth running of the organisation, it is important to think about the ever-changing relationship between the organisation's mission and the world around it. Renewal is a necessity if an NGO is to respond to the needs of the target group for which it is set up - whether it is an effective education for disadvantaged children, a community foundation or a cultural association.
Take it easy!
In a previous podcast where we spoke to Amigos and Greenpeace on a similar topic, they attributed their own youth engagement to being caught up in the atmosphere, the mood, wanting to be with others and to be with others even after the first meeting. If you want to know more about the recipe, listen to this broadcast!
Let's set it free!
It was clear from our discussion that young people's initiative needs to be encouraged. Of course you can give ideas, offer connections with tasks, but it should never be "forced". It is important to give young people freedom within the tasks, so that they can really feel ownership of both the activity and its outcome. Positive reinforcement in terms of creativity and the realisation of their own ideas can also be the basis for a longer partnership with the organisation.
Space for autonomy!
It is perhaps not surprising that young people feel comfortable among young people, among their own peers. So if we can get them involved in activities where they can interact with each other, we can make a winning case. But to do that, we need a place - both our interviewees highlighted the importance of physical space for community meetings, for personal connections. A place not only to welcome others to events, but also to organise and brainstorm. A place where it's good to be together and a place to go back to. A place where new ideas and their implementation can happen.
To find out more, listen to the conversation here!
More useful info from our discussion partners:
Valley Town Association website: http://www.volgyvaros.hu ; https://www.facebook.com/volgyvaros/
To attract and retain young people, read. Recommendations for youth organisations, Part IV, chapter on youth education