In this post, we’ll check in whether CISV is on track to reach its 2030 vision of doubling its reach, based on the 2017 “Overview of Activities” from March 2018.
In 2015, CISV’s vision statement was approved. As we lamented early on, the ambitious goal that “[b]y 2030 we will (…) reach at least twice as many people as we do today (2015)” had no set indicators or operationalization at the time. The advantage (and indeed the whole point) of using quantifiable language like this is that we can measure whether the vision is indeed being achieved. Alas, it was not meant to be.
So how can we measure “reach”? Most of the National Report Form (NRF) data is not particularly helpful, as it is self-reported without set definitions for categories such as individual members. Thus, when CISV Sweden and CISV India had changes of several thousands members from year to year in 2012 and 2014, the reported overall membership number for all of CISV International dropped significantly (see the comments section here).
So we are essentially where we started off: As it stands, international programme participation is currently the key measure for tracking whether our reach is doubling, being both (1) clearly defined and (2) consistently tracked. The 2016–2018 Strategic Plan seemed to confirm this (p. 2). This is not as comprehensive an operationalization of “reach” as we would have wished for, but still quite useful.
So, with 2015 as the baseline year, how has CISV fared up until 2017 regarding programme participation?
The target annual growth rate for doubling any given number in 15 steps is 4.8%. Over two years, i.e. 2015 to 2017, the target growth rate is 9.8% of the baseline number (1.048²).
From 2015 to 2016, CISV was on track in most of its programmes and in overall programme participation, with a 6.2% growth rate (a jump from 9.415 to 9.995 participants; see Table 1). This was exciting. Hurrah!
Now that the 2017 numbers are in, we can examine the organization’s growth over two years, from the 2015 baseline to 2017 (see Table 1).
CISV’s two largest programmes – Village and Step Up, which account for 60% of all participants – fall short of the growth target. Rather than growing by 9.8% each, they have grown by 4.0% and 5.3%, respectively. Both lost participants in 2017 compared to 2016. Consequently, CISV falls short of the 9.8% target in overall participation. Overall growth was 7.2%, or about 250 participants too few in absolute terms.
Nevertheless, all programmes have grown to some degree over the past two years, indicating overall stability. In other good news, CISV’s smaller camp-based programmes – Youth Meeting, Seminar Camp, and IPP – all exceeded the 9.8% target.
So what conclusions can we draw? First, the 2030 vision was very ambitious. The absolute numbers necessary to reach the annual 4.8% will only grow with time. So if the organization is already falling short of its targets now, how will it be faring in ten years, when the set annual jump will be around 800 additional participants (compared to 2018’s 500)? Take a look at the resistance to the current motion that CISV should aim to grow our participation by 10% (which would still be below the target needed to double our reach).
To contextualize how ambitious the 2030 vision was – assuming doubling programme participation is a central goal – let’s compare it to the organization’s growth the preceding 15-year period, from 2000 to 2015.
In 2000, CISV had 7.262 participants across 194 programmes. In 2015, CISV had 9.415 participants, for a 15-year growth rate of 29.6%. Let’s recall what happened in those 15 years.
- Youth Meeting and Step Up grew exponentially, driving most of the organization’s growth. CISV greatly diversified its programmes, with Village no longer solely accounting for the majority of participants.
- Junior Branch came into its own, fully establishing regional meetings and the educational content areas (to name just two landmarks), thereby creating a dedicated longer-term base of CISV volunteers.
- CISV came into the digital age, easing programme planning and coordination.
So what are the lessons here? If these three factors – all of which fundamentally changed the organization (for the better) – resulted in 30% growth over 15 years, what circumstances are needed for 100% growth?
The lesson seems to be that “twice the reach” – defined as doubling participant numbers – is ambitious, perhaps too ambitious.