Staying close to your mission – EU style
At Quiosq, our mission is to serve citizens through European grants and partnerships. Our philosophy is that knowledge of cultural heritage – one’s own as well as that of others – helps to cultivate greater appreciation for each other, and contributes to greater well-being of the inhabitants of Europe and ultimately to more harmonious form of European unification. But said citizen is usually not our direct point of contact, or “customer” in marketing terms. We need projects and cooperation partners to realize our mission. Which is the most attractive – but also challenging – part of our work.
When we started Quiosq over two years ago, this world was largely unfamiliar to us. There are many ways to help you feel at home in the European subsidy world but getting to really know it is still a huge struggle. There are many websites aimed at helping you as a newcomer but these are not always accessible. Only through practice can you learn the terminology and acquaint yourself with the possibilities and impossibilities. The extravagant use of abbreviations and – sometimes strangely sounding – English terms does not help make you feel more confident. In the end, a National Agency’s information meetings are the most helpful, both because of the information and because through them you get to know other, more experienced organizations. In the end, it’s mostly a matter of just doing and learning along the way.
At such an early stage, it is nice when you are invited by other more experienced organizations to participate in a project they have conceived. At that point, the benefits of collaboration also become clear. You learn a lot from the others. Not only in terms of the content they are working on but also their methods. In European projects you notice that cultural differences also have an influence on working together in projects. You learn to take others into account and not always see your own way of working as the only and best. There can also be inspiration and help on a personal level when you yourself are stuck. Proudly, you mention your participation on the company’s website and on LinkedIn and with fresh courage you get to work. Most of the times it runs efficiently and everyone is on the same page. Sometimes we encounter organizations that do not organize European projects from a mission perspective, but rather as an earning model. This way of working is characterized by a lack of substantive commitment.
This brings us to the theme of this post. Anyone who spends an hour looking at posts on Facebook groups with names like ‘Erasmus Search’ may end up with a sad and cynical view of the world. Posts are often of the type ‘Would like to join our project. Does not matter what it is about’ or conversely ‘We are organizing a project and looking for partners from… (follows a number of countries)’. If you then ask for information about the theme, nothing more follows than a throwaway remark of the variety ‘It’s about education, culture, youth, Europe, inclusion and sustainability’.
This change in our market, which has been greatly enhanced by the use of social media especially in recent years, forces us to approach our involvement in European projects differently. We are becoming more critical and self-critical, and no longer enter into partnerships with organizations in which we see no connection with our mission, even if the project in question would be easy for us to carry out. After all, this will ultimately be bad for our reputation and especially the satisfaction in our work . We get the latter from international cooperation with like-minded spirits, and also because we really want to make a change in Europe.
We believe that it is necessary to focus on the central activity of the company and our reason for being: define your core business and the special contribution that distinguishes you from others. What is your added value and how do you use that to position yourselves within the market? Make sure that the organizations that you cooperate with are motivated by similar ideas as yourself. If they are less driven by content and more by financial motivations, this may put undue strain on the collaboration. Step into a cooperation project only if it allows you to stay close to your mission.
— Bob Crezee
Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash