With much positive feedback from the organisations in the Network, we concluded the third and final day of the Annual Meeting of the National Network for Children. After working in thematic working groups on the measures we want to see in the 2030 Family Policy Strategy, we dedicated time to training, experience-sharing groups, and mutual learning in four topics: Digital Marketing for the Civil Sector, Motivation for Donations in the Civil Sector, Is the Sector Losing the Information War, and Children as Advocates for Human Rights – Opportunities and Challenges.
And yes, we took note of the recommendation – for the next annual meeting, the sessions should be consecutive rather than parallel, so that everyone can participate in every training session because they are all interesting and very useful. Here are the highlights of the topics we covered.
“Is the civil sector in Bulgaria losing the information war” was the theme of another panel at the Annual Meeting. It focused on phenomena such as “hybrid warfare,” “fake news,” “disinformation,” “misinformation,” which we encounter more and more frequently, as well as the systematic demonisation of the civil sector. In this module, Georgi Elenkov, coordinator of the Legal Aid Network of the NNC, provided examples of how disinformation differs qualitatively from fake news. Is “NGO” already a dirty word for the general public, and is the civil sector in Bulgaria really losing the information war? How can Bulgarian non-governmental organisations finally respond successfully to the disinformation strike? These were the other topics in the panel. The panel included a theoretical part, a practical component, and discussions dedicated to key concepts such as “hybrid aggression,” “disinformation,” “misinformation,” “trolls,” “integral schemes,” “confirmation bias,” and others. It examined dozens of historical examples of fake news and disinformation, including the most recent “active measures” against the civil sector by Bulgarian politicians and influencers in 2023. It discussed how to recognise and expose a troll/bot in three steps and whether it is worth the effort to engage in a debate with a troll/bot. It also covered how to discuss disinformation with our families and loved ones, how to effectively use the communication channels of our organization to counter disinformation and hybrid aggression, and much more.
In the topic of “Digital Marketing for Civil Organisations,” Justin Tombs, an expert in digital marketing and PR, conducted training on best practices for maintaining online communication channels for organisations – websites and social media profiles. We had a discussion on “How the Network can speak louder” through more active community support for the NNC’s positions on social media, as well as the real stories and practical examples from organisations that we can work with to illustrate the issues, achievements, and media interest. The session involved experts from organisations in the Network who are most often engaged in communication and PR for their activities and are interested in the advantages of digital marketing as a tool in the work of the non-governmental sector.
In recent years, Europe and the rest of the world have been hit by a series of crises such as COVID-19
and the war in Ukraine. Many of the funds from various European projects were directed towards addressing these destabilising crises in the EU. This prompted a significant portion of the human resources of non-governmental organisations to seek alternatives to continue their support work. Thus, fundraising became one of the important and key segments within organisations. The skills to reach the corporate world and individual donors became highly valuable for the development of the civil sector. This very topic was addressed in the session “Motivation for Donations in the Civil Sector.” It examined fundamental practical approaches to the entire fundraising process, holistic communication with businesses and individual donors, how to communicate with businesses, how to present our causes, what approaches have proven successful over time, what actions to avoid, how to conduct prior research and build profiles of companies and individual donors who are aligned with the organisation’s causes. The meeting also presented the other perspective – that of corporate donors. Representatives from the corporate sector participated and shared important criteria and messages when choosing a cause or social project. We thank Denitsa Kolarska, Senior Specialist in Corporate Social Responsibility and Internal Communications at A1, Ekaterina Ancheva, Head of Identity and Communications Department at
UniCredit Bulbank, and Alexander Ivanov from the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee at Hewlett Packard – Bulgaria for their willingness to participate and the valuable advice they provided on what motivates businesses for corporate philanthropy.
In the fourth topic – “Children as Advocates for Human Rights – Opportunities and Challenges,” the youth from the “Megaphone” program participated. They worked on advocacy skills at the international level on topics they themselves recognized as important. They discussed the report created by the “Megaphone” program on meaningful child and youth participation in the school environment and shared their presentation to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as part of the pilot project “Present and Future: Empowering Child Rights Defenders in Bulgaria,” implemented in partnership with Child Rights Connect and the Know-How Center for Altern
ative Care. The training was led by Kristina Nenova, Coordinator of “Child Participation” at NCD, and the youth from the “Megaphone” program.
We had a pleasant time together, it was very useful, and we accomplished a lot of work. Thank you, Network!