There is no single, magical channel to address all the variety of needs of civil society organisations (CSOs) to make their voice heard, and certainly not just one approach can be applied for reaching out to the right audiences and building organisational capacity for visibility and community building. Thus, supporting CSOs to make their voices heard for their causes requires a constant improvement of the approaches, tools and methodologies.
TACSO by the Civil Society Development Centre (STGM) has moved towards integrating all of its useful approaches, tools and methodologies so as to hear and address CSOs’ needs in the challenging environment.
The capacity and achievement of CSOs in terms of visibility and outreach to the Turkish public remains a challenge reference to pressures rising from the political environment; structural issues that limit access to mainstream media; and limitations regarding CSOs’ capacities and resources. However, while these remain, social media channels and newly developed media initiatives create important opportunities for civil society in Turkey.
TACSO by STGM addressed these opportunities in different ways within TACSO activities to support CSOs to create a stronger voice for their causes. In the scope of TACSO by STGM, 45 CSOs came together in two formal workshop sessions on Advocacy and Social Media to strengthen their skills, learn about new channels and online tools and share inspiring experiences. Another formal workshop brought 17 CSOs together to introduce the new dimensions in online tools for non-profits and to strengthen their outreach, visibility and online information management.
Close communication with participants was sustained within the TACSO by STGM CSO Help Desk as follow up requests for technical assistance and feedback on the newly developed initiatives were encouraging such as this one from Kazdağları Association for Protection of Nature and Culture:
“Our social media campaign on Twitter with #kazdağıhepimizin reached to 574,600 interaction and we came 2nd in trending topics. And now today’s planned meeting for mentioned investment project was cancelled. We transformed into an ocean when we were just a drop. Thank you so much for your support!”
Among the formal sessions, TACSO by STGM in-house experts supported at least 10 CSO events and provided ad-hoc workshops to support the improvement of CSOs’ communication and visibility. The participants of the supported events with in-house expertise, included women’s rights activists working on peace building; local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) activist groups; different disability rights activists; activists for increasing adoption and foster parenting; activists for non-violence; Roma rights activists; and environmental activists, who were all enabled to explore new needs, approaches, and know-how.
Transforming usual tools for new rules is another aspect of addressing opportunities. The weekly e-bulletin was taken over by STGM, providing all TACSO and STGM information, CSOs’ news, European Union (EU) news and support to CSOs. So far, 13 weekly e-bulletins were sent to 6,670 individual recipients carrying 124 CSO news items and 132 announcements for support to CSOs. The e-bulletins and announcements are shared on the STGM Web site, a solid reference for civil society news in Turkey with its daily average of 1,720 unique visitors.
The STGM Web site is reported among the top 10,000 most visited Web sites in Turkey on Alexa rankings. STGM also uses social media channels actively to channel CSOs’ voices to the public with its over 10K followers on Twitter and Facebook. Since taking on the Resource Centre role, over 1,000 announcements on CSO events and calls were shared with the wider audience.
Finally, TACSO by STGM’s experience is reflected and built upon with other initiatives carried out by STGM. STGM is part of the Techsoup Global Network; led by Techsoup International, a U.S. based non-profit working worldwide with the mission to build a dynamic bridge that enables design and implementation of technology solutions for a more equitable planet. Techsoup has more than 60 of the world's leading CSOs as implementing partners that manage a range of capacity building programmes in their countries as a part of a global network.
With its role as a Techsoup implementing partner since 2016, STGM channelled over 2,500 software donations to 650 CSOs in Turkey. With its improved technical infrastructure in its role as a Techsoup implementing partner, STGM established an online webinar facility to reach out to CSOs online. STGM webinars started in April 2017 with two sessions developed on the basis of know-how and resources within TACSO by STGM. Over 150 participants followed the online sessions on “Social Media and Advocacy”, and “Legal Compliance for CSOs” while over 250 requests from CSOs were received for a repetition of the sessions and for sessions on new topics.
TACSO by STGM continues to channel CSOs’ voices to wider audiences with its Web site and social media channels and continues to support CSOs with formal capacity building events and contributing to their events by adding a communication aspect. STGM also explores different opportunities arising from its different roles, such as the newly established online webinar facility; and integrates them to widen its efforts for supporting capacity building and outreach to CSOs with the motivation to constantly enrich the toolbox for support so that CSOs’ voices are heard.