This week we’re behind the scenes with Lucie Mádlová, the leader behind #GivingTuesday in the Czech Republic (Czechia). Here’s what she had to say about her experience championing the movement so far!
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you get involved with the social good world?
Lucie: My first connection to the social sector was purely theoretical during my studies. In 2009, I returned from an internship in Denmark, where I was a lecturer during my post-graduate studies. I found out that there are whole study programs focused on CSR and sustainability, which at that time, there were no university courses like this in Czechia; the theme of social responsibility was still new and unexplored in our country. I was so full of inspiration from my time abroad and I decided to create a new course on CSR, but I found that there was no literature in Czech that dealt specifically with CSR. And so I wrote the literature to be used for academic courses in Czechia.
The more I studied CSR, the more I realized that it was mostly large companies, and that there was no space where smaller businesses, social enterprises or the public sector interested in developing CSR could cooperate. This is precisely why I founded the Association of Social Responsibility in 2013. The idea behind the organization is that it develops CSR and sustainable business in Czechia. With 250 members, it is the largest CSR platform in the country. The Association brings together interested parties and links organizations from the corporate, non-profit, educational, and public sectors to increase their CSR and sustainable business potential and abilities.
Q: What inspired you to get involved in #GivingTuesday?
Lucie: In 2015 there were a few donor projects in Czechia. The companies launched some volunteer events and other organizations organized conferences and other events on #GivingTuesday, but not about #GivingTuesday. There was no one who would coordinate and embrace this amazing global movement. I had a strong urge to launch it in our country and introduce the movement to others who may be interested. In 2016 during the summer, we started communicating with the global #GivingTuesday team in New York and agreed with them to become a national ambassador who would coordinate the whole movement in Czechia.
Q: What has worked well for #GivingTuesday in Czechia so far?
Lucie: During the first year, we launched our website and started online communications via social media. These activities led to amazing results for us – in our first year we saw an amazing 112 registered #GivingTuesdayCZ appeals from nonprofit organizations, foundations, corporations and individuals alike, many of whom were members of the Association of Social Responsibility.
In 2017, during our second year, we wanted to improve our communication campaign. We began to work with three Czech celebrities, including Petra Němcová, who became ambassadors of this global movement in our country. They aligned themselves with certain projects they support, and really helped us to promote a culture of giving in our country. Not only did we see this support from influencers, but we also had great cooperation with our partners, with over 170 registered appeals and around 150 appearances in the Czech media. Together, a total of 7,380,000 CZK was collected.
Q: What challenges have you faced in getting #GivingTuesday in Czechia off the ground?
Lucie: It is always difficult to come up with new ideas and to present them to the public. Moreover, we decided not to translate the name and use the English version which can still be difficult for some organizations. Only last year did companies really start the crazy wave of sales on Black Friday, but that helped in getting the media and the public to participate more in #GivingTuesday by creating a counter movement.
Q: What’s the potential or impact of the movement in Czechia?
Lucie: I have to say that Czechs are a very generous nation. Whenever we had donor activities that helped children or people affected by natural disasters, huge sums of money were collected. However, the current political climate in our country is not so conducive to enabling the non-profit sector to thrive. But thanks to our Association and our activities, we are working to change this attitude. Thanks to the #GivingTuesday platform, we are raising awareness that donations, volunteering and helping others is the right thing to do. We want to make people proud of sharing what they believe in and what they are doing in terms of giving, and to show that these good deeds are a great part of the lives of people in our country.
Q: What is one of your favorite #GivingTuesday stories?
Lucie: There are so many of them! If I have to choose one, then my favorite is “Socks from Grandma” by the organization called Elpida. It collects and recycles old unnecessary wool and employs old ladies and grandmothers who knit original warm socks. By selling those socks, Elpida earns money not only for the knitters, but also for other activities for seniors. And as the winter comes, your socks warm up not only your feet, but your heart as well, because you have supported a particular grandmother. Thanks to the project, Elpida is helping seniors to become a natural, confident and respected part of the society. Socks can be donated as responsible Christmas gifts not only to your family members, but also in corporate colors to your corporate partners.
Q: What are you most looking forward to for #GivingTuesday 2018?
Lucie: All the new organizations that engage in this incredible global movement, and especially their creativity in terms of how they implement #GivingTuesday activities. For example, one organization has prolonged the activity for the whole week with the name #GivingBooksWeek where people donate books to other people. I’m looking forward to seeing the new ideas from our partners.
Q: One of the reasons the #GivingTuesday movement has been so successful globally is because of the vision and leadership of country and community leaders like you, those who step up in the name of social good. What does leadership mean to you?
Lucie: We are very proud and honoured to hold this important role and we are glad that we are championing the campaign in Czechia as the national ambassadors. People are turning to us to ask for advice and help during the creation of their fundraising activities, and thanks to the feedback we’ve been collecting, we know what the involved organizations and companies like and what we can change and do better this year to support them for 2018.
Q: Do you have any advice for leaders thinking about starting a #GivingTuesday movement in their country or city?
Lucie: It is great to be part of the #GivingTuesday family. If you have a question or a good case study, you can always contact the global team and share your experiences or advice. Most importantly, enjoy participating as much as possible. It is a great opportunity.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote by some leader or someone you admire for their vision and leadership? And why?
Lucie: That’s hard to say, but for a long time I’ve admired Sanjiv Suri, the owner of the company Zátiší Group. Half of his earnings go to charity and philanthropy. Moreover, he also personally supports most of the projects he helps. For Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, he cycled around 850 km in the native Indian countryside and raised $100,000. I also like the fact that all his support is sustainable. He not only gives his money to worthy causes, but he also works to make people self-sufficient, so they could do business themselves and make money themselves.
My other role model is a wonderful person and donor. His name is Jan Školník and he supports our Association. He engages in philanthropy with all of his heart. Another one can be Silke Horáková. She is a wonderful woman who helped the Czech #GivingTuesday movement at the very beginning. It was only thanks to her that we could start #GivingTuesday in Czechia. She was the only one who believed in its potential and the good brought forth by this celebration.
I am very grateful that all of these leaders, including our ambassador Barbara Nesvadbová, are coming to our donors’ conference this year, which takes place on October 2. This will also be the launch of #GivingTuesday 2018 in Czechia. We are most honored that we are also going to be welcoming Henry Timms, the founder of #GivingTuesday!