twice the reach

numbers, words, and stuff, unaffiliated with cisv.

Here in this Village? — August 26, 2018

Here in this Village?

Twice the Reach welcomes guest posts – read more about how to get your words here.

by Jostein Sydnes

Jostein is a father of 6 kids, manager of an advertising company, runs a small music festival and the co-owner of two online newspapers. He’s been an active CISV member since 11, including being chapter president for CISV Sunnhordland and president of CISV Norway. In 2015 he coordinated the Global Conference, and he is currently the chair of the organisational committee of CISV Norway.

I am old as the post-it note and my first CISV experience was in 1986 at a Village in Sweden. An amazing experience that came to influence my life. From the day I took the train to Stockholm with three friends and our leader, I became a CISVer. I have had the opportunity to do a lot of volunteer work on a local, national and international level. I have always felt that in CISV there are endless opportunities if you want to take them.

In 1986, when I was at my Village, there were 45 villages around the world. Three decades later we host 11 more villages (in 2017 we hosted 56) than we did back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. That’s two new villages every five years. Not a giant leap for CISV-kind. So I have been quite puzzled ever since the amazing ‘twice the reach’ vision was launched at the Global Conference in Norway in 2015. How are people thinking this can be possible? Well if you believe, I guess you can move mountains. But my Scandinavian boring side sometimes knocks on the door and want me to take a closer look at foundations of this mountain we want to move.

I think the brilliant Twice The Reach team (editors blush) has given us great insight on the growth-numbers so I won’t go into detail on that, but their latest article show us some of the challenges. In summary it shows us that we are off track, but maybe not way off track.

However, I want to challenge you to think about how we are measuring our growth. Are we maybe not reaching more people, but merely giving more activities to the ones that are already in the organization? Because as I said, there’s not a lot of growth in the Village programme. One of the main driving factors for our growth is Youth Meeting and from my knowledge this programme mainly recruits from existing members. I believe we have become better at giving more activities to our existing members and we have maybe managed to keep them longer in the organisation by giving the opportunity to grow up in the organisation. And let me say, this is not a bad thing, this is a great thing. We want members longer. But we also want to reach more people. I believe that the increase in number of participants we have seen today is mostly CISVers doing more programmes.

Let’s look at that beautiful year of 1986 again. We had 49 NAs back then, and if you count the countries that were divided in the early 90s we could count 55. Today we have 69 affiliated countries. If we look back on the increase of villages, we have 14 new countries, even more since some have disappeared and new countries have arrived. And still we don’t manage to host more than a few new Villages.

I think we can agree upon that the programme we are founded on, Village, and the programme most of our volunteers promote as “our flagship camp” is in terms of growth, almost on a stand-still. As CISVers I think we all find it hard to fathom that the amazing Village programme isn’t being hosted in every city around the globe, but we seriously need to take a deep look at what is going on with the Village programme, and I am happy the Governing Board has started a programme review.

The hosting plan has been a great tool and has helped us growing the last few years, and at least it has giving us some stability when it comes to planning ahead. But still I think we need to take a hard look at two major factors if we have the chance to understand why Village aren’t growing more.

  1. Walk the talk we started more than a decade ago.

When CISV shifted focus from an organisation doing camps to being a peace educational organisation I think this was a natural step for us and a lot of volunteers felt that the thing  we have been doing for a long time now had a vocabulary. And though as always change sparks controversy, I think that we now all say we educate and inspire action for a more just and peaceful world.

However, despite this, few steps have been taken towards bringing meaning to the phrase and new content to our educational programmes. We need to better promote that we are an organisation not just during the summer months and have better activities that are easy to do all year round for more people. Preferably activities that stand out as typical for CISV. Mosaic is such an important way of reaching this goal. And maybe we can integrate the Village programme more with our Mosaic activities.

I also think we need to be open even more for initiatives that are not within our typical programmes.

  1. Change the Village programme entirely.

Or at least entirely change how we host and how the structure around our Villages are. The programme is great, and for people attending it, a life-changing experience, but when it comes to hosting it, I think we can agree upon that it can be quite challenging. I also would like us to challenge our own incentives for hosting. We are mainly hosting to get delegations to send but are we altruistic enough to go through all the hassle of hosting so that others can send their kids to Village? I think a lot of our volunteers do their job because they in turn can send their own kids to Village, and if this is correct for even just a small part of our volunteers it is difficult to promote growth in the system we have today. The initiatives of changing the Village programme have been met with scepticism and in 2008 the 21-day village was tried and defeated. But to grow I really think we need to be open to change the way we host our precious Village.

I think we should openly discuss our approach to growth and I think we should do as we always have done before, start with the Village programme.




On Track? CISV’s progress towards doubling its reach by 2030 — August 12, 2018

On Track? CISV’s progress towards doubling its reach by 2030

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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).

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Table 1: Annual participant numbers and growth rates by programme, 2015–2017

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.

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Table 2: CISV Programme hosting, 2000 and 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Three Years of Reaching: Why Commentary and Debate Beyond Formal Organizational Channels is Good — August 7, 2018

Three Years of Reaching: Why Commentary and Debate Beyond Formal Organizational Channels is Good

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Hi! 👋👋👋

Hi! We – Anjo, Jess, and Marvin – have run an anonymous blog about CISV called Twice the Reach since Autumn 2015. It’s had a decently large following, and sparked some interesting discussions.

After about three years of Twice the Reach, 1.5 of them active, we want to share what it was about, why we did it, why we did it anonymously, and why we think informal blogging is healthy and important for CISV.

The idea for Twice the Reach came after Global Conference 2015, when the ambitious 2030 vision statement that “[b]y 2030 we will (…) reach at least twice as many people as we do today (2015)” was approved. The statement had no set indicators at the time. The advantage of using quantifiable language like this, we thought, was that the organization can measure whether the vision is indeed being achieved. We felt that this fairly obvious point was not being discussed (enough),[1] and decided to take it online.

The format of the blog was straightforward: most of our substantive articles posed clear “research questions” which we attempted to answer using the quantitative CISV data available. We placed little emphasis on prose and attempted to avoid buzzwords. We also did longer research-based pieces, discussed Governing Board and IJR elections, wrote listicles (for the sharez), and published to-the-point pro-and-con bits.

Importantly for us, we chose to run the blog anonymously because we wanted it to be judged by the merits of the ideas we discussed, not by the volunteer roles we had recently held (NA Rep, IJR, JB Regional Team Member, and so on).

So why did we do this and why do we think independent commentary and blogging is healthy for CISV?

Starting in the early 2000s, the internet has given CISV the space for informal debate and exchange. Nick Trautmann’s CISV Devils[2] was a platform for discussing controversial or outlandish proposals to change CISV. On CISV from the Balcony, Nick later discussed personal ideas and musings on the organization. On the more humorous side, Karo and Paul’s When You’re A CISVer tumblr kept it 💯, as the kids say. Far earlier, an e-mail list called CISV-L encouraged people to share ideas on how to improve the organization.

When we started to become involved with Junior Branch and the wider organization (beyond participating in programmes), all three of us regularly read CISV from the Balcony and thought “This is the kind of organization I’d like to be involved in” – One with volunteers so dedicated that there is constructive public debate outside the formal organizational channels, open to anybody willing to engage.

This brings us to ‘generations’. It is no coincidence that all these online projects came from active or recent JBers. Being critical is in JB’s blood! We think having a space like this helps keep CISV accountable to itself, breathes in fresh air and gives us a place to bounce ideas around. Informal commentary and debate beyond the formal organizational channels is healthy for CISV.

Twice the Reach is not ending, we want to keep the platform up encourage a debate on the growth of the organization. We will continue to present numbers, words and stuff. However, we would like to encourage more guest contributions to our blog or quietly fall into the shadows as another JB-led initiative fills this space. We look forward to whatever comes next to keep CISV reflective!

Peace out,
Anjo, Jess and Marvin

[1] Interestingly, our posts relating specifically to the vision and doubling CISV’s reach were consistently viewed and shared less than our more lighthearted or less substantive posts.

[2] Which is apparently now fully offline as it was hosted by, which has been restructured.

Wanted: More Hats In Ring — July 24, 2018

Wanted: More Hats In Ring

By September, no-one serving on the Governing Board will have been elected in a truly competitive election. For the nine spots of the Governing Board, we will have had 11 candidates over the past three years.

Sadly, the low number of candidates is looking like a trend (rather than a blip). This could be (a) the election system, (b) the way the role is presented, (c) the change in international structure, or (d) a combination of all three.

We think it is probably the latter, and hope the organization will use this year’s Global Conference to discuss this alarming pattern before it becomes entrenched any further.

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Top 10 NA/PA Home Pages — August 23, 2017

Top 10 NA/PA Home Pages

Twice The Reach presents the Top 10 CISV NA/PA Home Pages – 2017. Of the 70 official CISV countries, we checked out 48 websites and rated them by our first impression of their main page. The primary criteria are clear messaging (from what we can tell), simple navigation, engaging imagery, and up-to-date-ness.

On the flip side, there are also still some fun homepages you wouldn’t think are still online in 2017 (shoutout to CISV from the Balcony), but we’ll leave those for you to discover.

Without further ado, here are a few great examples of what NA or Chapter home pages could look like. Spoiler: Home pages that are still based on the old .org design obviously don’t make the cut.


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Top Ten NA/PA Homepages – 2017:

  1. CISV Finland
  2. CISV Sweden and CISV Denmark
  3. CISV Guatemala
  4. CISV Philippines
  5. CISV Italy
  6. CISV Egypt
  7. CISV Israel
  8. CISV Norway
  9. CISV Turkey
  10. CISV India

Will 2018 finally see the retirement of old .org designs? (Unlikely.)

On Track! CISV’s 2015–2016 Programme Growth (6/7) — August 10, 2017

On Track! CISV’s 2015–2016 Programme Growth (6/7)

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This blog post is part six of a seven-part series on doubling CISV’s overall reach in 15 yearsWe started this “series” in 2015 without really having a plan for all seven posts. Here’s some more stuff.

We now have CISV’s full programme participation data for 2016. This means we can compare the first two years of data from the “Vision” era of CISV – starting at Global Conference 2015 – and check whether the organization is indeed on track to double its reach by 2030. Hurrah!

We examined the required annual numbers behind this growth goal quite extensively back in September 2015. In brief, the target growth rate to double any number in 15 steps, e.g. from 2015 to 2030, is 4.8% per step (or year). You can join the fun and calculate growth rates for your own Chapter or NA in our Growth-O-Matic 2030.

While there are plenty of metrics we should be tracking, programme participation is both (1) easy to measure and (2) one of the most important yardsticks for the organization’s success. So, how has CISV fared in hitting the critical 4.8% growth rate with its international programmes over the past two years?

Table 1 shows CISV’s absolute programme participation numbers for 2014, 2015, and 2016. 2014 is included for reference only, as the Vision statement had not yet been adopted.

From 2015 to 2016, the total number of programme participants jumped from 9,415 to 9,995 – an impressive 6.2% increase. Wahey!

Across programmes, only Interchange did not grow by 4.8%, instead registering a 5.7% decrease in participation. All other tracked programmes (i.e. all except Mosaic) exceeded the required threshold with flying colours. Bravo!

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Table 1: Annual participant numbers and growth rates by programme, 2014–2016.

If we impose the 4.8% mark on the pre-Vision year of 2014, we find that only two programmes have been on track for two years running: Youth Meeting (6.5% and 7.5%) and Step Up (7.1% and 6.8%). From 2014 to 2015, Village was slightly off, with 3.1% growth, but made up for it in 2016 with a strong 6.3%.

Interchange, Seminar Camp, and IPP have had stronger fluctuations, all dipping into participation decreases at one point between 2014 and 2016. However, Seminar Camp and IPP came back impressively in 2016, growing by 21.6% and 40.1%, respectively.

It’s important to remember that a single additional camp can make all the differences to these percentages. For Seminar, this impressive growth is driven by three extra camps, and for IPP this number was achieved with just two extra camps.

Overall, CISV is well on its way to achieving a doubling of participation numbers by 2030 – only 14 more steps to go! Walk in the park. In all seriousness, the fact that the organization is slightly ahead of schedule with its programme growth rates gives CISV some leeway in the upcoming years. Having some additional growth already “in the bank” means that 6.2% growth in one year and 3,8% the next is still on track for 4.8% overall.

Two more cool facts, while we’re at it:

  • With 9,995 programme participants in 2016, CISV is poised to hit 10,000 participants in 2017 for the first time in its history. That’s a medium-sized town!
  • From September 2015 to August 2017, CISV International’s likes on Facebook rose from 34,702 to 46,731 (+34.7%)! Given the roughly 9,500 participants per year, an annual growth of about 5,000 likes seems quite realistic (and not driven by bots or fake accounts). Neat!

All this is certainly a testament to the many volunteer hours CISVers around the world put in at all levels of the organisation, as well as the IO’s key coordinating role. Very encouraging!

Because one question always leads to the next, a further step could be an investigation into the sustainability of this impressive growth. Are chapters feeling burdened, or is it mostly smooth sailing?

Electile Disfunction? A Look at Governing Board Candidacy Trends. — August 6, 2017

Electile Disfunction? A Look at Governing Board Candidacy Trends.

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CISV International has an elections problem. Electile disfunction, some might say. In fact, if we look a bit more closely, the organization might actually have several issues with Governing Board candidacy. They mostly center around the candidate number – the main symptom is that CISV can’t seem to get it up in important situations. We need to talk.

This post aims to lay out some thoughts and offer some potential ideas to rectify what many involved CISVers see as concerning developments. However, as we’ve previously remarked, CISV isn’t all that bad at adapting to negative trends:

2015’s candidates marked a change in comparison to the past years’ regarding sex.

2013 and 2014: 8 female candidates out of 37 – 21%.
2015: 6 female candidates out of 7 – 85%.

The 2015 uptick in female candidates after two years of mainly males is encouraging. What can CISV learn from it?

Here are three tricky issues CISV International has increasingly faced with the recent elections: numbers, youth, and diversity in experience.

Graphic from one of our previous posts.

Problem 1: Numbers

Ever since the Governing Board has existed, both the total number of candidates and the number of candidates per open spot have decreased every single year. Year after year, we have less hats in the ring. When do a few alarming events turn into a trend?

In 2017, this pattern progressed to the extreme – having only three candidates for three spots. Of course, this is a very disappointing showing, even if these candidates are hypothetically the best people for the job.

Competitive elections showcase a diversity of ideas about the direction of the organisation and give the Members a true choice about those directions. More ideas being circulated in candidate questionnaires means a healthier and more challenge exchange about CISV’s future.

The fact that only three people felt they wanted to take on the role in 2017 – weighing time commitment, tasks, work/volunteer balance, and so on – also speaks to the current perceptions of the role of Governing Board Trustee within CISV. (Though the Board has taken steps to clarify this, see below.)

Are there less candidates because there is now less ongoing AIM-style politicking? Does the increased focus on the regional level draw more volunteers to the regional level? Whatever the case, let’s hope 2018 doesn’t give us the worst-case scenario – less than three candidates.

Problem 2: Youth (or JB) candidates

Young CISVers are very rarely elected to the Governing Board, and rarely run in the first place. Personal reasons such as post-JB burnout and the desire to focus on university or work are surely part of the explanation. However, CISV’s Members and International Junior Branch in particular should pause for some introspection as well.

First, when given the chance, the Members certainly have not shown themselves particularly eager to put young CISVers into leadership roles. Most prominently, two experienced and qualified JBers ran for the Governing Board in 2015, and neither was elected. This has possibly deterred other capable JBers from running. Similarly, having “professional experience” was mentioned as an important qualification in an info film by CISV International. Maybe not an ideal message for making the Board more diverse in age?

Second, the JB-elected Governing Board spot in 2016 was ripe for the picking – a virtually guaranteed election for any qualified young CISVer with a somewhat well-known face. Still, not a single current or recent JBer ran. As has been commented by Marcos over on Facebook, a coordinated effort by JB to fill some spots would probably be successful – and would change the face of the organisation’s international leadership.

Problem 3: Diversity of Candidates

For this, we won’t focus on geographic diversity (as we partially did back in 2015).

In 2013, the novelty of, and buzz around, the Governing Board system gave CISV quite a few candidates from outside the world of international committees – chapter volunteers, programme specialists, and so on. 2013 and 2014  also saw a few formerly very involved CISVers run for spots. Since then, the experience levels of candidates have seemingly become more uniform and less diverse – primarily recent regional and international involvement.

Of course, having first-hand experience with Governing Board Trustees and seeing the role up close before running will make volunteers more likely to run. Having extensive experience with the international structures you’ll be involved in is a plus. Nonetheless, this decrease in diversity could possibly indicate a growing distance between the Governing Board and local and national volunteers.

Possible solutions:

This is where it gets tricky. Surely most would agree that three-for-three is no model for the future. There is certainly no easy fix  but for the health of the organisation it is vital that we (as the whole CISV community) try.

  • The Governing Board has taken very helpful initiatives such as detailed and honest info videos (this one and especially that one). Keep ’em coming! (Keeping the specific target audience for future material in mind).
  • “Team” candidacies – groups of volunteers getting together and putting their names forward in part because they’d want to work together – could motivate more people to run.
  • Build a stronger relationship between the Board and the Members. One of the elements that did pass this year was that the Board must “find better ways to communicate with and to the Members”. Small changes are already taking place to make the Board more visible – such as having minutes referenced in the IO update. Let’s keep up this trend. And we promise we’ll do our minutes commentary more regularly.
  • Jiggle the system – perhaps the size of the job really is too great? Some elements of the role could be taken away, such as being chair of a committee.
  • More recruitment and info sessions at JB events (!) and RTFs. Here, the goal would be an increased understanding that the Board are just people and that the job is not completely overwhelming (while still being honest about the commitment, of course). Board presence at the regional meetings has been important and successful over the past years!
  • Global Conference – in the past, AIM played a key role in recruitment for roles across of the organisation. Although the motion this year tried to bring back an annual international meeting, it failed (hurrah). Perhaps this loss of meeting is partially to blame for the lack of candidates. So, when we do have a meeting, let’s take full advantage of it as a tool for recruitment.

How else could CISV International do to get candidacy number back up? How can the organization – specifically Junior Branch, perhaps – encourage more young candidates both from its ranks and not for Governing Board? Finally, should the role of Board Trustee be attractive to people outside the world of international committees, and if so, how can this be driven?

It’s time to have a talk about CISV’s electile disfunction. What do you think?

Move over, Dutch girl. —
Less Hats in the Ring — May 17, 2017
Minute by Minute – 10/2016 — April 29, 2017

Minute by Minute – 10/2016

Welcome back to our short monthly commentary on Governing Board minutes.

After a somewhat extensive hiatus we are catching up with the past few months, so here we go for the October 2016 Governing Board meeting.


The “Harris Legacy” is a seemingly quite large, unexpected donation CISV International received in 2016 (see the minutes in our last post). We hope the board has exciting plans for this pot, and it doesn’t become under-utilised like the Peace Fund.

On an unrelated financial note, it would also be interesting to see the effects of Brexit on CISV International’s finances.


Super interesting! We love the idea. Where can CISV volunteers check out this dashboard?


What does a “more strategic” Strategic Plan entail? Where can the work being done to determine CISV’s definition of growth be viewed?