Lights are going on all over Europe

Continental collaboration gives charities access to a wealth of information, according to governance expert Linda Laurance.

Linda Laurance
Linda Laurance

The EU is expanding, frontiers are falling and charities across the world are facing huge fundraising challenges. These are all reasons why organisations across Europe need to share knowledge to make themselves as professional as possible and to address issues of transparency and accountability. Mutual support can also be helpful in the face of bureaucracy.

This prompted a group of consultants to form EUConsult, the European association of consultants to not-for-profit organisations. With more than 40 members from 13 countries, there is a wealth of expertise to draw on at our seminars.

The challenges of income generation are common to all, but they are coloured by national political environments. Some of these, especially in eastern Europe, are in the early stages of establishing civil society. Hearing from consultants working in such countries enables those of us with a long- established third sector to examine the way we do things from a fresh angle, and to consider how we can support and encourage those who are just getting started.

Attending international events such as the annual International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands is also a chance to share timely and relevant experiences. Delegates at this year's event, for example, learned how NGOs in Argentina survived and thrived during the country's economic breakdown in 2002 (Third Sector Online, 20 October). Delegates were also able to hear about creative thinking on how to weather the current economic crisis.

Governance has rightly moved higher up the agenda in recent years, and EUConsult members are exploring how best they can help clients to appreciate the importance of good governance and its impact on all aspects of not-for-profit activity. A set of common principles for the EU third sector is currently being developed through a consortium that includes some EUConsult members. This should take international collaboration in the sector to a new level.

- Linda Laurance is a governance consultant and mediator, and an EUConsult member

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