From one of our active Helpalot members, our newest 9 Questions interview is with Simon Weststeijn.
1. Can you give a quick introduction of yourself?
Just turned 50, married, 3 children, Agricultural Engineer by profession, involvement with development issues since 1977. I have been involved with Agrinas as a volunteer since it’s existence.
2. What are the main goals of Agrinas?
To help improve the well being of the rural population in some of the most remote and backward parts of the World. This though agricultural and rural development support.
3. Do you support a projects of other charities? If so, what strategy do you have for finding trustworthy projects?
We would look especially for small scale bottom up initiatives and ownership of the different stakeholders. Furthermore it would be important that we believe we can have a substantial positive contribution to the present situation.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the future for Agrinas?
Continue to find professional equipped volunteers to help implement the projects. Furthermore to help find profitable endeavours for small farmers in an increasingly global competitive market.
5. How do you use the internet for Agrinas?
Most of our communication with the projects around the world takes place through email and VOIP telephone, thus reducing communication costs to a minimum. Most of our communication with supporters is through our website.
6. What do you think is the main struggle for charities in general?
To cope with the increasing red-tape in the western world. Due to ever increasing corruption and the resulting mistrust, the (financial) control and time spent on increasing the transparency of the organisation takes an unbalanced part of available recourses of small organisations.
7. What do you see as the biggest challenge and opportunity for Helpalot?
The number of similar organisations on the internet is increasing rapidly and it involves quite a workload for again small organisations to keep their information on a number of these sites updated. So the danger is, that the Helpalot site will have much outdated information.
Julius: On preventing outdated information; On Helpalot a project manager can ask someone else to co-manage a project. So a supporter can update the site for instance and relief some of the workload. Since pages on Helpalot are managed by real people (in stead of using a wiki approach or buying a database from another organization) we try to decrease the chance of outdated information. Also see my comment on question 8.
8. If there is one thing you can improve or one feature you can add to Helpalot, what would that be?
Find cooperation with other similar sites (like www.geefgratis.nl / www.allegoededoelen.nl) and together use one database. This will result in organisations to have to update only one database.
Julius: We are aware of the problem. An attempt to collaborate with GeefGratis has been put ‘on cold ice’, because of fundamental differences in opinion on what would be in the best interest of (supporters of) charity projects. Here you can read a 9 questions interview with Jordan van Bergen from GeefGratis we did 2 years ago.
In the Netherlands there is CIGD (Centraal Instituut Goede Doelen), they have the database you are refering to, and we are looking for ways to collaborate with them. Also we are interested to collaborate with parties in other countries that have similar goals as CIGD.
I discuss a more global approach to your problem in the ‘social actions mash-up‘ post.
I agree it is in the best interest of everyone to set up a system that makes updating your project for all sites you are involved in easier and quicker. I’ll probably blog about this problem and possible solutions in the future.
9. Thank you for your time, is there anything else you think is important to mention?
Thank you for your time Simon. I’ll do more 9 Questions interviews in the near future.