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FOREIGNER IN BRATISLAVA

Blog: December is a busy month for NGOs

In Slovakia, non-profit organisations non profits are very busy in December. Actually it's the month of International Volunteer Day on December 5, Mikuláš, Christmas and its markets.

(Source: TASR)

This month is very busy for NGOs because there is a lot to celebrate. The end of the year also means that it's time to look back on the year that has passed. But first, non-profit organisations  start  December by thanking their volunteers for their work. On December 5, all around the world NGOs celebrate  International Volunteer Day. This observance was created by the United Nations in 1985. In Slovakia, this day is celebrated in different ways. Some organisations arrange team building events for their volunteers, others take advantage of this day to reward them with prizes. Also, some umbrella organizations host an award ceremony for the volunteer of the year like Banska Bystrica Volunteer Center or the Youth Council of Slovakia.

Mikulaš is also an important event for NGOs, especially those working in the social sector. As it is an important tradition in Slovakia, organizations dress up like Mikulaš and its assistants and give small presents to their clients. It is particularly important for people born to an underprivileged background. This kind of event brings the community together around the association, and it is a way to strengthens the links between the two.

Other organisations celebrate Christmas. It's the case of Vŕba, an association that carries activities for cancer patients in two hospitals of Bratislava. On December 16th, Vŕba will visit patients at the Oncology Institute of St Elizabeth, entertaining them with carols and distributing small gifts and Christmas cookies. It also happens to have a Christmas party or a Christmas meal like what companies do.

All those public events are important to gather the volunteers around the ideas, activities and values of the organisation. It is an informal way to get to know an NGO and the association takes advantage of the Holiday Season to thank its supporters, donors and volunteers.

Finally, December is also the best month for fund-raising because it's the month of giving : presents to your relatives but also money to NGOs. It's also the month of Christmas markets. In Bratislava alone, you can count so many of them! Some are public like the Christmas market in the Old Town, but also companies have their own as well. They invite non profit organisations to sell handmade goods to their employees. Christmas markets are a good opportunity for charities to raise their profile while selling products made by their clients. It is also rewarding for the clients because what they make is actually bought. And the money raised will be reinvested in the NGO, to develop new projects for the following year. It's a virtuous circle !

And after all these activities, it will be time to enjoy the holidays and come back full of energy and new projects for 2016!

By Claire Billon-Grand, EVS volunteer at the Bratislava Volunteer Center .

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