You have a solid experience in the field of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), and noticing that the field of international solidarity was evolving, you chose to start working as a consultant, first as a free-lancer and then by cofounding a non-profit.
Could you please introduce yourself, and your organisation?
I have been working for over ten years in the international non-profit field. After ten years of expatriation all over the world working on coordination positions with different NGOs, I started working as a free-lance consultant in 2013.
I quickly started working with different international NGOs, giving training sessions on their behalf for local associations, to help them increase their impact. I also helped them define and implement their fundraising strategies, and undertook project assessments.
In parallel, I cofounded in 2015 Camaleo (www.camaleoproject.org), a non-profit organisation that aims at supporting all types of social organisations through affordable, adapted and individualized consultancy services.
How did this idea come up? What motivated you to start this project?
During my years on the field, I had the opportunity to observe the evolution of the sector from within:
- Strong decrease in funding due to the financial crisis, while inequalities and populations’ needs were exploding,
- Increasing complexity in donors’ procedures,
- Concentration of resources in the hands of large NGOs, while small local structures are often closer to the populations they support and know their needs better.
These small structures often don’t have access to adapted consultancy services, which could help them increase and sustain their impact.
This led me to start offering consultancy and training services, and then to co found Camaleo, together with other professionals from the sector. Thanks to Camaleo’s network, the range of services we can offer to social organisations is much increased.
Creating and managing an organisation isn’t that simple. What advice would you give to someone wanting to create one?
It’s true that some aspects are more complex; obviously, this depends on your professional background before starting the organisation. It’s important to try and be realistic, which of course isn’t easy.
Before embarking on the creation process, you should be familiar with the context, challenges and opportunities, the communication needs, be clear about what you can offer that is different, chose carefully the most adapted structure, use the different opportunities for support… And thus take your time and be ready to modify your initial project.
However, I think the most important point is to persevere, to constantly remember you started this, to be passionate about what you do and also to be able to get support, when needed, from people around you.
Getting started is one thing, but we also have a life to lead… Did you have to make sacrifices? Do you still do so?
I wouldn’t talk about sacrifices. The time investment can of course be great, especially at the beginning, but when you are passionate and convinced that what you do is useful, this investment isn’t considered as a loss.
Obviously the stability decreases and income becomes more irregular, but this is a decision I am absolutely happy with.
In reality, what did starting your organisation bring you personally?
It is for me a true feeling of freedom to be self-employed. Even if I was always passionate about my work when I was employed, I am once again feeling autonomous, motivated and commited on a daily basis. Camaleo is managed horizontally: we take time to discuss questions of ethics, to follow what is happening in the sector, etc.
I started undertaking training again in order to be able to strengthen the range of services we offer, and I feel I am learning something new every day.
Lastly, we consider our clients as partners and we share in their successes. To participate directly in their social impact is our first motivation.
What are your organisation’s needs today?
Camaleo is still young. We want to develop our contacts, our visibility and our network of consultants so that we are able to answer with only one structure to all needs of social organisations, which could involve different types of fundraising, projects formulation and assessments, communication, staff training in different sectors, etc.
I’ll finish with an original question: is starting an organisation a way for you to use your artistic talents or do you think it has nothing to do with art?
I think there is a true artistic side. We need a lot of creativity and are always inventing, finding new ideas to meet the needs of our clients.
We work with them in a relation of mutual trust, and once the objectives are defined precisely together, they often give us a lot of autonomy and expect us to come up with original solutions. In fact, we have a lot of fun!
Thank you Celia!
This interview was initially published on www.gautier-girard.com