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2015-07-15

International Watchdog Forum, 25-26 September 2015 in Warsaw

Citizens Network Watchdog Poland and the Stefan Batory Foundation invite you to the International Watchdog Forum, which will be held in Warsaw on 25 – 26 September 2015. This is not only a great opportunity to get to know each other better, but also to discuss with organizations from across Europe on issues related to civil control and tools of watchdog activity.

The organizers will select about 80 representatives of different watchdog NGOs from the submitted application.

NOTE: Online registration for the Forum will begin on August 17th. Now we would like to talk with you about the program.

What can you do now?

  • Save the date: 25-26 September 2015
  • Think within your organization about what you would like to talk with others – what bothers you, what questions need to be answered?
  • Think who from your organization could participate in the Forum – we encourage that participants are the organization’s decision makers.
  • Take part in creation of the Forum’s program by completing a short survey here: http://limonka.siecobywatelska.pl/index.php/survey/index/sid/984131/newtest/Y/lang/en – select 3 topics of the proposed thematic tables, write what you particularly would like to discuss and/or propose you own topic – we are waiting for your voice until August 9th.

We prepared 15 topics, which in our opinion are worth talking during the two-hour thematic table discussions. We would like to know:

  • which of the proposed topics are you genuinely interested in,
  • what kind of issues should be discussed among them ,
  • what other questions are important to you and you would like to talk about with other watchdog organizations.

Please select maximum 3 topics that are the most important for your organization and comment why they are important, what is your dilemma, what bothers you. We also encourage you to suggest new topics.
Table-discussion topics (discussion will be based on the experience of participating organizations):

  1. Communication and tools of social engagement – how to make use of the people’s around us potential?
    How to customize a message for different audiences? Practical methods for finding out who our supporters are, determining their needs and reach out to people outside the existing
    group of supporters. Effects of planned communication. The session will also address the issue of people offering their assistance for the organization – how to develop this kind of potential? how to you build trust? Do you ask for support yourself? What makes you feel reserved?
  2. The use of social media in dialogue with people and decision makers
    How do you use social media? Which exactly do you use? For what purposes? Are your social media „alive”? How to make them „alive”? Which goals of the organization can be supported through social media? How to use social media to carry out the organization’s mission?
  3. The stereotypes concerning watchdogs – how to change them and build a message to a wide audience
    Session devoted to building the image of watchdog organizations, fighting stereotypes and prejudices that had accumulated around watchdogs. Reflection on what is now the image of the watchdog and how to build it together. During this session we would also like to show you our ideas on building watchdog’s image, find out how you evaluate them and talk about how you could get involved in these activities.
  4. Watchdog activities and the interests of the local community
    Session devoted to issues related to watchdog actions implemented in local communities. We would like to talk if and when watchdog activities are aimed against the interests of the local community and how to build support and trust of the local community.
  5. Appreciating the effectiveness of watchdog activities: how to plan and measure social change?
    Session devoted to the question on how do you measure social change that you want to achieve. Do you plan it? How you verify undertaken actions? Do you see successes and celebrate them? How to maintain motivation in the team and the involvement of your supporters? Do you appreciate their achievements? How do you rate them? How do you tell about the change that you bring?
  6. Methods of overcoming the reluctance to the minority groups
    Many organizations do not believe in the opportunity to attract supporters when working with groups unaccepted by the majority of the population. However, some attempts are made. How should you start? How to identify the cause of resentment? How to choose strategic actions and groups to which you should turn to? What does convince people to support minorities and what does not?
  7. Cooperation with local government and watchdog activity: control vs collaboration?
    Session devoted to watchdogs’ methods and dilemmas associated with them. We will try to answer the question whether civil control and cooperation with local governments are exclusive and what is the role of watchdog organization towards local authorities.
  8. Ethical dilemmas related to financing watchdog activities by business
    We would like to talk about the ethics and financing of watchdog activities. We will discuss the issue of the relations between independence and values that guide the organization, and the various sources of its funding. We will also look at some alternative ways of financing watchdogging.
  9. The effectiveness and ethics. Do nowadays watchdog may use every opportunity and media scandal to show its work?
    Session devoted to the dilemmas related to situations in which there is a possibility of joining a nationwide or local public debate on issues related to our work. But it is often based on media/political scandals. On the one hand, it gives the opportunity to popularize the subject, on the other is a threat of its politicization. Sometimes taking part in the discussion (or not) can be received by the surroundings as information about our political preferences. How do we manage? Can watchdog organization use black PR as a method? The effectiveness of the organization – black PR vs. trust to watchdog organizations.
  10. Civic control vs advocacy
    Session devoted to the dilemmas of watchdog/advocacy organizations that work with decision-makers and participate in the decision-making processes. Where to draw the line of the compromises? When the collaboration requires to step down too much from the values? Is it at all possible to give up the values? What kind of strategies does your organization use? What methods of advocacy and collaboration do you use?
  11. Caring for the cohesion of the organization
    Session dedicated to going beyond standard measures and mission of the organization. Whether and how much you can go beyond the main mission of your organization, supporting petitions and letters of other organizations, engaging in political changes etc. Do we need to stick just to our own subjects? Can people associated with the organization support different issues as private individuals? Can we leave it to their individual decisions, or should we talk about this in the organization? What about solidarity and relations with other organizations and watchdog community?
  12. How to talk about the goals, achievements and working methods of watchdog organizations?
    Session based on specific experiences of the participating organizations. How the organizations explain their goals, what do they tell about themselves , what methods do they use? Do you try to find out what your audience/supporters think about your organization? How do you do that and how do you use this knowledge?
  13. Education in watchdog activities
    Although, many organizations see the need to take educational activities, still very often they are not recognized as a part of their watchdog work and civic control sphere. Who educates
    and why? How this translates into the realization of the mission of your organization?
  14. How to deal with people’s/organizations lack of independence?
    Organisations, especially local, struggle with the problem of engaging people into their activities or to get their explicit (public) declaration of support. People are too dependent on institutional and local decision makers. Are watchdog s able to overcome this kind of fears? Are they able to gather people around their issues? How do they do that? What kind of solutions have they managed to work out? These are just some of the questions that we will try to find answers to during this part of the meeting.
  15. Open data, Internet tools and sources of information
    Session presents online tools collecting data. We would like to talk how to use these repositories and what can be found there.

For more information please contact: Joanna Gucman-Muż: joanna.gucman@watchdogpoland.pl

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Watchdog Forum is organized within Citizens for Democracy programme financed by the EEA Grants.