This has been PROJECT-E’s second online Strategy Weekend – the first one took place in August 2020 and was just as successful and motivating. However, due to long screen times, it was demanding and sometimes tiring. For this session, the organizers and PROJECT-E chairwomen Stella Sak and Josefin Weindorf took the feedback from the previous event to heart and guaranteed an exciting, effective and collaborative weekend.
The Strategy Weekend kicked off on Friday evening with a culinary session. About ten Team International volunteers cooked Misir Wot (an Ethiopian lentil dish), each in their own kitchen but connected online. After the meal, most volunteers moved on to an evening of online games, which was a lot of fun and gave participants the opportunity to get to know each other outside of project-related meetings.
Saturday started early but energetically with a team-building quiz before the different departments presented their work of the past six months, and gave an insight into what will come in the coming months. Future operations and activities could then be discussed more depth as the Finance, Fundraising, Public Relations, Talent Management and Management Board departments had time to work with their teams and draft detailed plans. This inter-departmental working time provided the opportunity for more personal and inspiring conversations that the weekly team meetings usually grant.
Focus on cross-departmental cooperation
After the lunch break (during which even the last remnants of the dish prepared the evening before were deprived of any chance of survival), Country Representative Marianne Siede presented on the developments at the PEHI in Addis Ababa, and the PROJECT-E Management Board also presented its update. This was followed by what was certainly the most work-intensive part of the SW, which consisted of cross-departmental work on various topics that are important for the coming period. Thus, around 25 participants worked out strategies for organizing crowdfunding campaigns, for networking opportunities, for building corporate partnerships and for income-generating activities on the ground in Addis Ababa. The collaboration proved to be intensive and efficient, which is why the late afternoon break was well-deserved. Volunteers reconvened in the evening, when the second round of games kicked off: the activities, titled “Revenge!” in the SW schedule, did not disappoint.
On Sunday morning, a dance workout counteracted the exhaustion of the Saturday and kicked off an active final day. First, the four groups presented the results of the previous day’s cross-departmental activities and discussion, then the project-based volunteers (who have been part of PROJECT-E since 2020) introduced themselves. This was followed by the elections of the Management Board and the Department Heads, as well as a one-hour call with PROJECT-E alumni: the latter had interesting stories to tell from the NGO’s past, and gave current volunteers words of encouragement for the uncertain times ahead.
The weekend came to a conclusion when volunteers were given the opportunity to provide written feedback, which can now be used to optimize future Strategy Weekends. Even though there is still hope for holding the next Strategy Weekend face-to-face, Team International can look back on a successful three days full of fruitful online cooperation, and draw some much needed motivation from it given the uncertain times that lie ahead.