Webinar: Participation & Information – Inspirational Practices

Year of production: 2020

Watch our recorded webinar that took place on May 21, 2020 to become inspired by youth projects that have stood out! It’s a perfect chance to learn from project leaders how they organised their actions, what kind of challenges they faced and what to do to shine out with good communication!

Projects “Find the Green” and “Youth for Democracy” were both selected as winners in category Promotion & Outreach for the SALTO PI Awards. SALTO PI Awards recognises inspirational projects in on Youth Participation, Media and Information Literacy and Communication categories. By telling stories and recognising work well done, we can inspire young people, decision makers and future applicants of Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps to do youth participation better.

In this webinar we…

  • learned from the project leaders what methods and approaches can be used to make a better impact
  • gathered ideas how to start a successful project in your country
  • got inspiration on how to make your project visible and improve your communication
  • got tips and tricks how to work with decision makers, partners and young people
  • learned the lessons, do’s and don’t from people who have successfully gone through this process

About the inspirational projects:

Find the Green. The project aimed to raise awareness on environment protection throughout supporting decision making related to choosing eco-solutions with using the power and the advantages of media. SALTO PI Awards jury members endorsed: “The project is youth led, shows great initiative and effort put in the whole project. What is even more amazing, is that they managed in a short period of time, in just 3 months, to build a web platform and record podcasts! They managed to reach a significant amount of young people, who could get interested in the topic. It is amazing what was achieved with a modest budget! Great potential to keep this a long-term and a sustainable activity.”

Youth for Democracy: The project promoted and informed young people about the European and Romanian national elections, European Union, and participatory democracy. SALTO PI Awards jury members stated: “The project reached a big amount of young people on a national level. The impact was proven as significant. The combination of usage of different tools to reach out was well planned and executed.”

Q&A with Bianca Butacu – Youth for Democracy

The most important thing we did was promoting and inviting the participants from the activities to join us online as well, on the Youth for Democracy Facebook page, but also on the Active Development Association ADA Facebook Page and Instagram. We posted on our Facebook page photos and videos from the activities and testimonials from participants, so when they checked our page they could see things that they actually took part in. In this way, we had a higher post reach, more number of likes, shares, and tags due to the participants.

Besides this, we always tagged our partners in our posts, who afterwards shared all the posts regarding the activity they partnered with us. We did that with our collaborators on the magazine as well, tagging them or their NGOs in our posts about the Youth for Democracy magazine. Therefore, we reached out to their community and target groups as well, making our project more visible.

Furthermore, we covered relevant topics related to our project by creating our own content (posters, videos, list of fun facts, etc.) or by sharing posts from other pages. Our own posts were shared by people or pages from different areas that might not have been aware of the Youth for Democracy project. Moreover, we adjusted our messages and how we delivered the information to our target group, to make it easy to understand.

One last thing, but important as well, was that the team project and ADA volunteers were involved in promoting the page. We all invited our Facebook friends to like our page, shared the content we posted on our personal page or in groups, and, of course, gave it a ‘like’.

Regarding our website, we launched it at the end of the project, so it did not represent a channel of promoting our project while we were implementing it. However, in order to make the website visible and drive traffic to it, we posted all the articles written for our Youth for Democracy magazine on the website as well. The articles were shared on our other platforms, by our partners and collaborators to the magazine, which drew attention in the community.

Yes! During our project we were supported by the local newspaper, Desteptarea de Bacau. They published a series of articles about our project, from the launching event to our European Parliament simulations or campaign, both in the printed and the digital format of the newspaper. Besides this, we also had printed materials, such as roll-ups, stickers and pens for the participants, all of which had our logos on them. 

Traditional media was for sure helpful and useful in promoting our project. Through the local newspaper we managed to reach out to people from our community who are not active online or who do not follow our activity. Therefore, people read about and find out about our project even though they were not connected to it in one way or another.

We implemented our project in different areas, so approaching partners was really dependent on the area. For example, in some cities we already knew the partners and it was much easier to pitch our project to them and engage them. We contacted other potential partners by email and tried to reach them through student councils, who were in a good position to present a case for our project to the teachers and other school staff, in order to wean them on our idea. In general, the partners we had were very supportive and encouraged us to carry out our activities. There were a couple of partners, who were a bit more hesitant and sceptical about our ideas, which were quite political in nature and thus laden with social particularities. Overall, however, we had a very positive experience with our partners and stakeholders.

No, we did not. All the actors involved in the project (partners, stakeholders, media) supported us and got involved in the project on a volunteer basis.

The first important step is to find like-minded people and connect with them to build a network of volunteers and partners. Also, do not be afraid of asking for help and support, especially in terms of communication and creating good visuals for your communication. It is also important to do research about the topics connected to your project and then find ways to communicate this information as simply as possible. When finding partners, it is highly useful to connect with those, who might have the same aims as you do.

In my opinion, the most important thing is to establish from the beginning the basis of your collaboration: your expectations and the partner’s expectations, what you want to achieve through your activities, and think together of a timeline for your collaboration on the activity. In our case, when we contacted a partner (either a new one, or one we had already collaborated before), we already had an infopack prepared with key information about our project, what we had done before, but also a vision of what we want to do next. In this way, both parts have a clear view of the partnership.

Moreover, it is important to keep in touch with your partners and have a follow up after each activity (through articles, Facebook posts, photos, videos, etc.). Give visibility of what you do together as partners in order to raise awareness in your community and target groups of each part.

Even though some of our activities did approach the roles of local, national, and European institutions and authorities, the project did not suppose direct cooperation with public authorities. However, we can say that local representatives from our city supported our idea of promoting the elections and participatory democracy.

First of all, it is important to make it clear from the beginning the purpose of the activity and what it is going to happen during the activity.

In our case, after getting to know the participants through different energizers and games, we talked to them about the Youth for Democracy project in order to make it clear that our objectives were only to inform young people about the elections and voting, E.U. institutions, and to promote active participation in the community. Afterwards, we would walk them through the agenda of the day: what were the key elements we were going to talk about and how we were going to do that. In this way, the participants can have a clearer view on why you are there, what it is going to happen and not assume that since it is about the elections, we were going to promote a certain political party or politician.
Second of all, do not be afraid to remind the participants (in a kind and smooth way) what is your role there.

If during an activity the discussion was slowly turning into a debate on which political party is better or against a certain politician, we changed the dynamic through launching a challenge or putting a question so we came back to the initial topic.

Our work is based only on volunteering. Through the European Solidarity Corps programme, we were able to finance all the costs regarding the activities, from materials required (papers, pens, markers, etc.) to transportation costs and other logistic aspects (like renting a conference room for one of our activities, printing some of the visual materials, etc.).

Youth for Democracy was funded by the European Solidarity Corps programme.

There are several European programmes that can fund interesting projects, but the main thing is to keep in mind that you do not always need funds to make your idea happen. If you think creatively, you might find alternative ways to realize your ideas and get closer to your goals.

Our project was fully funded by European Solidarity Corps and it lasted until December 2019. If we want to continue with our activities now then we would just fund it ourselves, as the current activities are online and so do not need that much investment anymore. When we applied for European Solidarity Corps funding in October 2018, the key aspect we focused on were the needs of young people in democratic life, especially in relation to elections. We tried to really prepare the project in such a way that would take into account the actual needs of local youth. This way we could make sure that our project is useful and beneficial.

The project’s budget was 6000 EUR, plus 666 EUR for the coaching program for the project team.

I feel that all the people, who participated in our project, became more connected with the European Union, as we all had to research the election mechanisms of the European Union and its historical background in general. As a result, everyone became more aligned with the European values and thus wanted to promote these values more. I also noticed that feelings of European citizenship strengthened in us. For me personally, it was a challenge to speak for the project, so I think I also became more brave and developed my public speaking skills. I also developed my organisational and digital skills by having to coordinate our messages, communication channels and so on.

Yes, they did in some way. One important aspect of our project was to adapt to each group’s learning needs and level of knowledge on the topics discussed (European Unions, E.U institutions, elections, European Parliament, etc.). One reason for that was because each group was different, with participants with different backgrounds and learning opportunities, for some being the first time taking part in activities based on non-formal education methods or about the European Union. Therefore, we took the first 15-30 minutes of the activity to get to know the participants, their interests, learning needs and to test what are the best methods to use with them. Thus, we had in mind at least 2 or 3 plans of what methods to use and the level of content we wanted to share with them. We were able to do the “testing” usually with a participatory tool (a content based game) through which we could check the participants’ level of knowledge about the topic(s), but also how much they are willing to get involved in the session/activity.

In this way, they contributed to shaping the activity to be the most suitable for them, both from the information point of view, as well as the methods used to deliver it.

On the other hand, for the European Parliament simulations we organized, the participants were highly involved in defining the activities. The first four were simulations of the European Parliament’s committees, where the participants were able to accept, refuse or add amendments to the legislative proposals debated, the result of the activities being completely in their hands. The 5th activity was an European Parliament’s plenary sitting simulation, where the debate was on the results of the other activities. Therefore, the simulations’ flow was completely given by the participants’ discussions and decisions on the topics addressed.

We thought it through when we wrote the project, so we chose to include high schools of cities near rural areas, because we knew that youth attending those schools would be from more remote areas and with fewer opportunities to participate. We were trying to think in terms of how to make it as easy for youth as possible to become active and join us. The key thing is to find a gathering place, where more vulnerable groups also show up, because that way you can bring your project closer to them and not expect them to change their behaviour or make an effort to find out about your project by themselves. In addition to that, we also used social media messages that were specifically designed and adapted for youth with fewer opportunities. We tried to be very organised about our goals and monitor reactions and feedback of our audiences. This gave us a lot of insights about how to adjust and communicate in the most fruitful way.

Youth for Democracy project was solely carried out by volunteers of Active Development Association ADA.The only person hired was the coach who was not involved in the project or the activities at all. She strictly offered coaching sessions to the project team, for personal and professional development. The budget for the coach was supported by the European Solidarity Corps, as the programme provides a budget for coaching in solidarity projects.

During our project we had a set of indicators to help us monitor and evaluate our project, both from the quantitative and the qualitative point of view . Some of the quantitative indicators are: number of participants in the activities (per activity, but also in total), number of participants with fewer opportunities in the activities, number of activities organized (since we had more activities than planned), how many partners we had and who they are (institutions, media, NGOs), number of articles published about us, contributors to our magazine (how many and who they are), number of likes on Facebook and other Facebook insights (reach, page views, shares, etc.), number of views of the magazine, etc.

Qualitative indicators: how we interacted with our participants and partners, the content of our magazine and Facebook page, how the participants improved their behaviour after the activity, etc.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/YouthForDemocracyRO
Website: www.youthfordemocracy.eu

Youth for Democracy project’s flow and participants’ feedback: https://spark.adobe.com/page/9PtxagjuMsU96/
“Why do young Europeans vote?” was part of our online campaign on promoting the European elections: https://spark.adobe.com/page/eKvE5J5ST1Rmu/

Anyone who wants to collaborate or share their experience or work in the youth field on our website can contact us at [email protected].

Q&A with Klaudia Kis – Find the Green

The first and the easiest step was to talk about our project. Once we set up our social media platforms, we invited our friends to support us and share the information. Our communication was very much adjusted to our target audience. In order to learn more about our target audiences and understand them, I spent a lot of time in different environmentalist social media groups, simply observing the information exchanges there to get a clearer picture of what triggers these types of people. Aside from this we also used radio and podcasting, which are great tools for creating interest among people with less knowledge about environmental issues, so as to bring in new audiences. For this, we had to make sure that all the discussed topics were simply understandable and accessible to all listeners.

Finally, I started creating and sharing content on the topic myself, as well as networking and entering different project competitions, which also help to get the word out about our project.

We only used radio, but that was easy because we are running our own live radio podcasts weekly. We’ve been invited to a university radio as well to share this project. 

Other ‘traditional’ media we did not use.

We started communicating on FaceBook and Instagram and building a network of partners by asking for recommendations from our audiences. We found that email is a good medium for reaching out to businesses and that it is important to personalise communication, so as to approach each potential partner in a customised way. It is important to build a relationship of trust with partners, in order to really engage them and have them on board with the project. What we found in our experience was that oftentimes partners were not sufficiently informed about our initiative and the topics we wanted to address, so we made sure that they get the information they need. Another key aspect for us was positivity in our attitude and communication, so as to establish a constructive dialogue with our partners.

No, we didn’t. This projects builds on the power of media and the advantage for the partner is to just be on our map.

First of all, do not wait for the perfect time, just start with what you know and have and everything else will follow in time. Secondly, make sure that you plan your communication right from the start, because good and powerful communication is based on values. This means that you must clarify your core values to your audiences as best you can. For example, one of our key values is positivity, so we make sure that every single social media post is positive rather than fear and anxiety inducing around the issues of climate change. Networking is not rocket science. You just need to be brave and approach different people and potential partners. It is highly beneficial to be able to offer something to your potential partners. For example, you can offer them higher visibility by integrating their links into your website or social media channels. This is a good win-win solution, which does not result in extra cost for your project.

Method and networking…these two words together is a failure for me, although communication specialist would say the opposite. 🙂 Based on my experiences you must be opened, enthusiastic and prepared when you start networking. Do it by heart and flow. Of course it is obvious that you must show to your partner what advantages can they get out of your project.

We have not established a relationship with public authorities, as this has not been a priority for us. Our project is a civic initiative, which is focusing on individuals and perhaps companies that wish to become more green and integrate more sustainable practices into their activities. However, we have the willingness and the readiness to involve authority figures and stakeholders from the public sphere in our project, primarily by inviting them to participate in our podcast.

There is no complex model and we do not really finance anything, since the basic idea and model is just to run the project with using our knowledge instead of buying. We do not earn money off this project now, but we will try to put a business plan together. We are accepted to a startup bootcamp where we must focus on the sustainability of the project that is a very important goal for the future. We have applied for European Solidarity Project as well. Find the green! project was totally funded by 2 Hungarian youth activists on their own

We currently do not have any funding from anywhere, but I did apply for European Solidarity Project funding and am excited to find out what the outcomes of that will be. I think my own investment into this project was worth it, since it is about environmental sustainability, which is extremely important. Any project will always need investment of money and time, especially in the beginning when the project is being set up. For Find the green! we do have a business model in mind, where maybe eventually we can have return on our investment by integrating advertising and creating packages for users, who want premium subscriptions and so on. However, our goal is to always ensure that there is information and quality content available for free, so that the project fulfills its main purpose, which is to raise awareness and create impact for environmental sustainability.

200-250 EUR plus volunteer experts in the team with relevant IT, marketing, OD knowledge.

First of all, I would like to highlight the changes in myself. We agreed in the very beginning of the project that a positive mindset is key in this, so I do feel like I have managed to be more positive about the topics we work with. In addition to that I have also become more brave and confident when reaching out to strangers and introducing our project to different people and organisations from different countries. Aside from myself, I have noticed how supportive people are, as long as the topic interests them and they have passion for the environment. People are voluntarily prepared to help even during odd hours.

We are the young participants, so yes, we designed, implemented and run this project. 🙂 Besides there is a huge interest from young people to transform the website into a mobile app. Once we have the money for that, the project design will be fully delivered by youth, because the target audience of the app is young people.

We have labels on our website if the green providers are accessible. We are planning to implement more solutions for them, but since this is a 6 months old project we need to have the basics and the stability to be able to implement solutions for the socially vulnerable groups as well.

Find the green was started as a hobby project by two volunteer people. It is still a volunteer project with a strong network that has willingness to sponsor the project. Besides we would like to focus on a sustainable business model more, than being addicted from founds. A sustainable mixture of business income, funds and civic sponsorship would be ideal for this project.

FB/Insta followers, audience of the podcast and the trends of them. Individual website visitors. Recommendations on the website. One of our aim was to receive at least 25% of the database from recommendations that is measurable.

Important Links: Youth for Democracy

Anyone who wants to collaborate or share their experience or work in the youth field on our website can contact us at [email protected].

Important Links – Find the Green

We are seeking for volunteers and happy to share our knowledge and experiences also to multiply the idea and the model. 

E-mail: [email protected]


Bianca Cristina Butacu

Bianca inició su andadura en el sector juvenil en 2015, cuando se incorporó a la Active Development Association. Ha participado en más de 30 proyectos Erasmus+, formando parte del equipo directivo en 15 de ellos. Bianca también fue la coordinadora de actividades y eventos locales implementados por ADA, como el Gheraiesti Park Days Festival. Es licenciada en Economía y está realizando sus estudios de Maestría en Desarrollo Regional y Cooperación Internacional. Actualmente trabaja en desarrollo urbano y también es coordinadora de la revista y sitio web Youth for Democracy. Sus áreas de interés son el desarrollo urbano, la democracia participativa, los asuntos europeos y la migración.

Photo of Klaudia Kis
Klaudia Kis

Klaudia was led by strong system approach from a graduate in economics to project and process management. On the same time, her heart led her to Human Resources consultancy. After that she crazily and irreversibly fell in love with non-formal learning and became a freelance trainer. Since then she has gained a huge personal growth experience and takes every opportunity to raise awareness and work with self-awareness and youth entrepreneurship. She believes that when people are trying to improve their self-awareness they naturally get closer to environmental awareness as well. She plans and facilitates environmental projects because she wouldn’t like to do anything else.

Photo of Siiri Taimla-Rannala
Siiri Taimla-Rannala

Siiri Taimla-Rannala is a graphic recorder, designer and animator, who has worked in this field for over 10 years. She has visualised a vast number of conferences, seminars and trainings in the youth field. She's also a founder of Joonmeedia which is a platform for visual creative tools' development and practice. She is a co-author of a publication "Graphic Express - first steps to graphic facilitation in youth work".

Photo of Sérgio Gonçalves
Sérgio Gonçalves

Passionate about learning and the development of tools and materials that can support that. Works as a freelance trainer since 2007. The main expertises are on the topics of Empathy, Value-based learning, Digital Tools for communication and cooperation and Quality, Game-Based learning. He is also a certified facilitator of the Lego Serious Play methodology and materials.

Participation Pool | Resources on Youth Participation & Media Literacy
SALTO Participation & Information

SALTO Participation and Information Resource Centre (SALTO PI) develops strategic and innovative action to encourage participation in democratic life.