Personal: Reflections of Lessons Learned from Liz Liew

A year ago, if you had asked me what I thought of hosting a workshop completely online, I’d have said, “Nope, not interested. Can’t see it happening. I am set on f2f. Come on, COVID isn’t going to be here forever. Get real!”

Not only was I wrong about COVID (like, TOTALLY OFF BASE!!) but I’ve also learned so much since we decided to turn it into a 100% online conference. Of all the lessons I learned, the ones below are the biggest ones worth mentioning: 

Humans love human-centric content
I’ve learned how important it is to create human-centric content – dry topics like corruption can be spiced and laced with case studies, to make it more relatable. People want to learn and take home different things : some want frameworks, others want to be able to understand basic principles, and some want to hear how they can apply these techniques in their activism or engagement strategies. But ultimately we love the same things – to be able to relate to people.

Make it relatable
The issue of resonance also emerged : within the region, despite the countries facing similar problems, I needed to make content relatable across the board. We were a region, but were the pressing issues similar, or similar enough to make it a common denominator? Also, could the different countries relate to one another? Could Laos relate to Thailand, and would Myanmar be able to take democratic reform ideas from Indonesia, to implement them in Yangon, over time?  

Support emotional and mental resilience
I’ve learned that mental and emotional resilience is often taken for granted : our participants in Myanmar were a beacon of inspiration throughout the workshop. They inspired us with their ability to stay tuned in, remain as focused as possible, and participate in the sessions as much as they could. Despite their extremely difficult circumstances, they had one of the highest graduation rates from the workshop.

Do your best
I’ve also learned that in life, we can only do our best, and very often, this means some people won’t be happy. Indeed, when designing the agenda, I am sure I unintentionally upset a few people. Of all the tasks I have undertaken in my career, designing the YSEALI Good Governance Workshop agenda alone was one of the most challenging and complicated tasks I have taken on. I was juggling time zones, speakers’ changing availability, and their personal situations (some of it unforeseen such as deaths in family and contracting COVID); emerging socio -economic issues, and of course, the socio-political climate of Malaysia.

The fragility of the political landscape of Malaysia and ASEAN, especially with recent events, meant that we had to carefully navigate the situation, selecting topics and speakers who could support us in balancing the fine line of speaking up for justice and promoting freedom of expression, while maintaining neutrality in all forms. 

Uphold your moral fortitude

The end goal for me as an individual, and as an organiser, was to uphold integrity and honesty, stay true to my own moral compass, while keeping everyone’s best interests in mind.

At the end of the day, I did not want to create a packed schedule, filling up useless topics, seeking unrelated speakers, just for the sake of checking things off, just for the sake of hosting a workshop.

Through this process, I was reminded to be guided by my own moral compass. 

Versatility is the engine of success
I’ve learned that versatility is one of the key cornerstones of success : being flexible and open to alternatives, in a project like this, is a MUST. 

As organisers, we needed to be mindful of the endless possibilities (beyond tech hiccups), and be able to react calmly, think out of the box, and also be willing (and courageous) to maneuver unfamiliar terrains. 

Exercising compassion
With all the changes and unforeseen circumstances, I learned how crucial it is to be compassionate. A longtime fan of the Dalai Lama and Patanjali’s Sutras, I am grateful for being able to practise Yoga off the mat.

Sutra 1.3 is a clear example of integrating compassion into our daily lives. Whether it was the way I responded to a speaker’s no-shows; or saying ‘no’ in a kind yet firm way because if I relented, it would have caused unnecessary inconveniences for the team and I; or event drawing boundaries for myself to ensure I looked after my own well-being, practising compassion towards others and myself made a world of difference. 

The Art of Communicating Empathy
Perhaps the biggest personal growths in designing and co-running this workshop was learning the art (and the importance) of communicating empathy (online) to both a small, and large group – when participants express their thoughts, share their work, or open up a part of their lives to the audience – snippets of acknowledgement and validation, be it a like, a ‘reaction’, or a response, regardless how small, matter. 

It matters because it is their only connection to you, with you.

It matters because we realised that for many of these young leaders attending our conference, that the bi-weekly sessions became a short staple of their month of March : the connections, laughs, jokes and pokes they shared, were something special, and something they really looked forward to, given the lockdown restrictions in most parts of the region. 

Maybe one day, when travel restrictions are lifted, when physical distancing isn’t the norm, when we have all been vaccinated (against all strains), and can all meet in person again, the little reactions on Zoom will be history in the life of online workshop facilitation.

Written by Liz Liew, Program Development and Strategic Partnerships of TechSoup Asia-Pacific.

TechSoup Job Openings

Are you someone who’s looking for a role that allows you to create a positive impact? Then we’ve got something for you! TechSoup Asia-Pacific is expanding its team in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. If you’re interested with working with TechSoup Asia-Pacific, check out our job openings below:

Project Coordinator (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

This is an excellent opportunity to expand your project coordination skills, whilst working within a dynamic, international team environment. The Project Coordinator will be based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and will form part of an integral small Asia-Pacific team, reporting on a day to day basis to the Project Manager, with close working relationships with the TechSoup Asia-Pacific team and TechSoup (grants and fundraising) team based in the USA, TechSoup’s various NGO partners and stakeholders throughout Southeast Asia.

What You’ll Do:

The project coordinator will be responsible for the overall administration and coordination of the YSEALI Regional Transparency and Anti-Corruption Workshop over a period of 12 months.

The project will bring together 100 youth leaders from throughout ASEAN and Timor-Leste for a week of workshops, masterclasses, networking and cultural offsite activities. You will be responsible for organising and coordination of the documentation of this project, including and not limited to preparing monthly reports, coordinating meetings, tracking project progress and deadlines, and implementing the logistics plan. The role will have you collaborating with TechSoup staff, the YSEALI Alumni network, U.S embassies, our partners and contractors in ASEAN and Timor-Leste.

Responsibilities:

    • Provide overall administrative support and coordination to the project
    • Maintain all project documentation including reports, quotations, evaluations, analyses, assessments as per project requirements
    • Assist in tracking progress of report deadlines and any other submissions related to the project
    • Assist with website updates, including editing graphics and text
    • Provide support to financial administrator including compiling and coordinating expense sheets and any other related documents related to finances
    • Provide support to project manager for monthly reporting submission
    • Assist with the execution of the logistics plan including researching and confirming event venues, and liaising with the logistics agency on participants and speaker details
    • Organise and document committee meetings, and any other meetings in relation to the project
    • Provide support to the social media coordinator who will be updating social media platforms

Qualifications and Experience:

At least 5-7 years working experience, with at least 5 years’ experience working in a project management capacity, preferably in a nonprofit, social enterprise, or an international development environment.

Knowledge and Skills: 

Essential

  • At least 5 years working experience in a project management capacity, preferably in a cross-cultural, regional or international context
  • Highly organized multi-tasker with strong attention to detail and deadline
  • Essential project administration skills, including organising, coordinating and documenting
  • Clear and concise communication abilities, both written and verbal, for both an internal and external audience
  • Strong desktop publishing skills, proficient in the use of office productivity tools e.g. Microsoft office/Google Suite etc
  • Independent, self-starter with proven ability to work autonomously as part of a geographically distributed team
  • Demonstrated professionalism and flexibility in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.
  • Fluency in verbal and written English and Bahasa Malaysian; knowledge of one or more other ASEAN languages is a plus.

Desirable

  • Candidates who have prior working experience in an international or regional organisation, or bilateral agencies are preferred.
  • Prior long-term experience (more than 12 months) in project coordination and/or an administrative role in regional/international non-profit, human rights, social enterprise, or international development setting.
  • Prior experience in managing development aid grants, especially from the U.S State Department.
  • Experience in developing or implementing marketing and outreach plans, especially digital marketing and social media.
  • Writing skills, including the ability to write short updates for both external (social media updates, website articles) and internal (newsletters) audiences.
  • Social media skills including memes, GIFs, and knowledge of various social media platforms and their insights
  • Financial administration skills, and experience in using some finance reporting tools
  • Enthusiastic commitment to TechSoup’s mission; knowledge of the NGO sector and the role of technology in building the capacity of NGOs and charities.

Reporting

The Project Coordinator will functionally report to the Project Manager who will manage this project. The Project Coordinator’s direct line management will be with the Managing Director – Asia-Pacific.

Employment Conditions:

The successful candidate will be employed as an independent contractor of TechSoup and based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Locally competitive remuneration will be provided in line with the candidate’s experience and skill sets.  Due to the nature of the project and the funding associated with it, this position is strictly for a period of up to 12 months. Any continuation of the position/role is contingent on future funded projects or programmatic activities.

How to apply:

Those interested in applying should send their resume along with an accompanying cover letter that speaks to your desire for the role advertised and speaks to the relative qualifications, experiences, knowledge and skills that make you suited to the role. The resume and covering letter should be emailed through to sgee@techsoup.org and nannalia@techsoup.org, with “Project Coordinator – TechSoup Asia-Pacific” in the subject line.

Applications are accepted until January 10, 2020. Successful candidates should be able to start work soon on February 2020.

 

 

Calling all NGOs in the Anti-Human Trafficking Sector – Step Up For the NGO Incubator Pitch

Working towards social transformation is never a straight road. The painstaking effort undertaken by all actors at various levels of governance such as the policy-making, enforcement and grassroot levels must work as a cohesive unit to truly tackle the issue of human trafficking in order to effectively eradicate what we now understand to be modern slavery.

The NGO Incubator Pitch is the culmination of a series of workshops to strengthen tech capacities of NGOs (non-government organisations) in this area of work where the winning NGO will not only receive a tech gadgets and other resources to help them with their ongoing work, but also the much envied opportunity to develop one’s tech capacity through means and platforms provided by TechSoup for a period of one year!

All eligible NGOs will be competing to showcase how they have put what they have learnt from the workshops on data visualisation and protection as well as creating interactive campaigns on digital platforms, and how these tech knowledge has helped participating NGOs in addressing gaps and deficiencies in their campaigns and lobbying efforts.

The NGO Incubator Pitch is an opportunity for NGOs to become more effective whether it is in engaging with victims of human trafficking or to gain public support in order to create better infrasturcture to victims of human trafficking.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 Who can participate in this workshop?
The eligible NGOs consist of participants from the workshops in this series: ‘Strengthening the Capacity of NGOs working in Anti-Human Trafficking’, and are listed below for easy reference.

  • Alliance of Chin Refugees
  • Amnesty International Malaysia
  • Archdiocesan Office for Human Development
  • Asylum Access Malaysia
  • Change Your World
  • European Rohingya Council Representative in Malaysia ( ERC )
  • Good Shepherd Services
  • Health Equity Initiatives
  • Hentikan Pemerdagangan Malaysia (SHUT)
  • Human Trafficking Watch HTW. Republik Of Indonesia
  • ILO Bridge
  • Issara, Embode
  • Kachin Refugee Committee
  • KINDNESS Malaysia
  • MERHROM (Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation)
  • North South Initiative
  • Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  • Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  • Project Liber8
  • Rohingya Human Rights Activist In Malaysia
  • SameSkies
  • Sentro
  • SUKA Society
  • Suriana Welfare Society Malaysia
  • Tenaganita
  • UNHCR
  • Women’s Aid Organisation
  • Zomi Association of Malaysia

What does participating in the NGO Incubator Pitch entail?
All participating NGOs will be delivering a pitch to our panel of judges with a focus on techniques learnt from the previous workshops and how they have incorporated it into a campaign. This campaign must be developed and implemented in one or all of these categories:

a) Storytelling via still photography
b) Storytelling through the use of videos
c) A fundraising donor and communication plan

Please note that the campaign mentioned above MUST be related to the issue of human trafficking and cannot be an existing campaign in order to ensure that the results of the campaign is fair and reflective of skills gained from this series of workshops.

Is it possible for a few NGOs to pitch together?
Where there is a lack of resources for smaller NGOs to develop and carry out the required campaigns, one or more NGOs may collaborate and pitch together with the approval of the Organizer. However, the prize will be awarded to the principal NGO as stated in the Application Form. The responsibility of dividing the prize to the partner NGOs will then fall to the principal NGO.

Is it possible for one NGO to submit more than one application?
All eligible NGOs are only allowed to submit one application. A joint-application of two or more NGOs will count as one application and as one participating NGO. The principal NGO will be referred to as the participating NGO. That said, the partner NGO is not allowed to submit another application.

When will the NGO Incubator Pitch be held?
The NGO Incubator Pitch will be held as per the details stated below:
Date: 23 October 2018 (Tuesday)
Time: 9.30am – 11.00am
Venue: To be confirmed
The Organizer will inform all participating NGOs of the confirmed venue via email once the venue has been confirmed.

How do I register?
To register, kindly fill up this Application Form. Please note that all applications submitted does not automatically qualify as a successful registration. All applications will be subject to a review and shortlisted applications will be notified and invited to pitch.

The deadline to submit the Application Form is 30th September 2018.

What is the format of the pitch?
Every participating NGO will be allotted 8 minutes to pitch. The pitch must cover the following topics:
– Identifying gaps in their past/ current campaign strategies
– Noting reasons for choosing specific techniques used in the campaign
– The aims of the campaign
– Successes and challenges when it came to developing the campaign, creating content and implementing the campaign
– Reasons as to why your organization should be incubated by TechSoup and Yayasan Salam

This will be followed by a question and answer session where the judges will be able to seek clarification or further information from the participants.

All participating NGOs may use powerpoint presentations, handouts or other such props and aids that will help the NGO in making a successful pitch. That said, it is best to keep all props to a minimum so that it does not distract from the actual pitch.

All participating NGOs may choose to send any number of persons to deliver the pitch with the condition that they are listed as contributing members of the team in the Application Form.

What is the criteria of assessment?
The judges will be assessing the participating NGOs for effectiveness, impact and relevance with regards to:

– the application of techniques used
– the challenges identified
– how it relates to the issue of anti-human trafficking in Malaysia
– sustainability of the program and potential for growth

How will the campaign be monitored?
All participating NGOs will be required to post their campaign on ONE of these social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Participating NGOs required to post content to the specified page belonging to their NGO from 14 to 20 October 2018. These posting will be used as a measure of impact. Postings before or after this period will not be considered in the final assessment by the judges.

Who are the panel of judges?
The panel of judges will be revealed once the panel of judges have been confirmed.

When will the winner be notified?
The winner will be notified at the end of the event, along with the runner-up.

What are the powers of the Organizers?
The Organizers reserve the right to modify the terms and conditions of the format of the NGO Incubator Pitch at our discretion. Please note that all participating NGOs will be treated with the utmost respect and consideration.

To help you get started, we have come up with a recommended timeline.

Post-Workshop Support

Move one step closer towards winning the pitch by attending our post-workshop sessions!
These cosy informal mini-workshops function to support the learning process by allowing participants to build,  brush up on skills taught in the previous workshops. Take advantage of this unique setting to ask the speakers for assistance – this may very well give you the edge you need to take your campaigns to the next level.

Wait no more and email lmenon@techsoupglobal.org to secure your seat at the upcoming workshop. Take a look at our calendar (attached below) for details.

Tech Planning Smackdown in Singapore with Oracle NetSuite

Last 18 June 2018, TechSoup Asia-Pacific’s Program Manager, Jed Adao, joins Oracle NetSuite’s Social Impact team along with some 20+ local charities for the Tech Planning Smackdown workshop in Singapore.

A free half-day workshop, the event was dedicated to assisting charities in identifying the pain points that choke their operations while also enabling them to know how they can choose and implement the proper business solutions to address such issues.

Joining TechSoup Asia-Pacific and Oracle Netsuite was also Spectrum Partner Group, a consulting service in Singapore that caters on charities’ needs, whom delivered a best practices session in implementing new Cloud solutions and also a live demo of Oracle NetSuite’s technology donations which are now available to Singapore Charities.

Vietnam NPOs and Volunteers Connection Day

Serving as a venue for the youth of Vietnam to find meaningful opportunities to make an impact, TechSoup’s local partner in Vietnam, Vietnet-ICT, hosted the NPOs and Volunteers Connection Day. It was attended by over 400 youths and 25 different NGOs, featuring a variety of technology training workshops and opportunities to connect and collaborate with one another.