Dear readers! I would like to address the people who have been considering the idea of setting up an organisation. I would like to share my experience with you.
I have been leading a life among quite interesting people. My studies at the University of Warsaw and the Graduate School for Social Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences have taught me to express my ideas openly and loudly, carry out bold projects and listen carefully to advice offered by experienced people.
I came to Poland in 2001. My shock knew no bounds. Everything was new to me: living independently from my parents, a wide assortment of products in shops, European architecture and… the Polish language, which I have learnt quite quickly. During the course of the first 2 years, I tried to be in diverse company as often as possible. I was friends with Belorussians, Ukrainians, a girl from the Czech Republic and a boy from Hungary. I tried to get to know their culture, customs and language. We threw parties together and carried out various projects. Having completed my studies at the University of Warsaw, I started to travel to other EU member countries and the countries of the Caucasus. I took part in international conferences, which gave my plenty of opportunity not only to listen to other people’s lectures but also to express my personal opinion. Bless God that I have no fear of public performances. Seven years in Azerbaijani television taught me to how to be confident in front of the camera and a large audience.
Going back to the subject, I would like to note that it was during those travels that the idea started to emerge to set up the organization „The Common House of Caucasus in Poland,” the aim of which is to promote peace and welfare in this tiny area of the world. I shared my idea with Professor Stanisław Zapaśniki, who supported it and agreed to become one of the founders of our association. In order to set up an organisation of this kind (there are also other forms of self-organisation, for example a foundation ), 15 people should declare their will to set up an organization . What are the benefits?
First of all, out activity becomes legitimate and gains authority!
“From an empirical point of view, legitimation is a process whereby a given society considers an institution legitimate. Consequently, the institution inspires real obedience (i.e. the law is observed, no one challenges the power of the authorities)"(1).
There are several forms of self-organisation: citizens’ initiatives, non-governmental organisations, social movements and the voluntary sector (2). „Social self-organisation is a process where a local society organises itself on its own in order to resolve certain problems and satisfy its needs. The essence of self-organisation is a grassroot movement which acts for common good” (3).
Every non-governmental organisation has by-laws which define its goals and scope of activity. “Good by-laws should contain provisions that will enable the association to operate efficiently. The by-laws of an organisation should be drawn up in accordance with the binding law. Otherwise, there may arise problems with the day-to-day running of the organisation”(4).
I remember the time when I started to collect the documents necessary to register our association in the National Court Register. At first glance, this seems to be a difficult and complex procedure. I decided to take advice of a professional lawyer. How much did I have to pay? Nothing! I turned to NGO.pl , where I found legal aid.
Look for lawyers who could help you to collect necessary documents for free!
Preparing a portfolio of documents in a proper way, you will avoid problems with the registration of the organization in the National Court Register. It’s important!
Remember that your organization starts to exist officially on the date of its foundation and not registration! The will of the founders is binding in this respect.
Setting up an association, one should bear in mind that all changes in the identity documents (or the temporary residence cards) of the founders of the organisation should be reported to the National Court Register. Consequently, if foreigners want to set up an association, they should ask Poles to be founders.
There are currently 72 associations registered in Poland (5). Associations are said to be going through a crisis. In my opinion, one of the reasons is a lack of time to implement projects that satisfy our spiritual needs. After all, we won’t always receive financial awards for realizing our own passions. We often work for free. In my opinion a person who decides to set up an association should possess the following skills and do the following things:
1. Ability to lead an association;
2. Creativity that can infect other people;
3. True faith in what you do;
4. Patience and step-by-step course of action;
5. Carrying out specific projects;
6. Integration with other associations with similar goals;
7. Creating a website or a Facebook profile page;
8. Exchange of information concerning the association with other organisations;
9. Drawing up a mailing list of people who support your goals;
10. Applying for European funds – the EU launches thousands of contests every year.
If you want to mark your presence on the so-called market of organisations, you should remember not to repeat the ideas of other associations. Otherwise, you will be neither successful nor satisfied. The point is to create something uncommon, to initiate a collective action that will interest Polish and international society.
Interestingly, "the task of “building a civil society” after 1989 was entrusted to people and organizations that together make up the so-called voluntary sector. NGOs (non-governmental organizations) were supposed to set the example on how to develop democratic procedures, activate society and build ties of trust"(6). It seems that the leaders of the ex-USSR countries who have come to Poland should use their skills to create an organization in this country in order to draw on this experience and build a civil society in their countries. Remember that “a civil society can operate independently from the state institutions. Independence does not necessarily imply competition between society and the government, a situation that usually exists in the countries where the political system is contrary to the will of the majority of the citizens. The essential feature of a civil society is its members’ awareness of the needs of the community and struggle to satisfy them, in other words concern for the social problems and
a sense of responsibility for its good” (7).
Our association „The Common House of Caucasus in Poland” is currently carrying out its most important project, namely the publication of “Nowy Prometeusz” (Eng: New Prometheus), a new international scholarly magazine. Our organisation has followers not only in Poland but also in the countries of the South Caucasus and West Europe. We hope that in the future we will be able to implement more projects to achieve the statutory goals of our association.
Translation: Anna Orzechowska
1) See: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legitymizacja
2) See: http://mfiles.pl/pl/index.php/Samoorganizacja
3) A. Hejda, B. Kozłowska, Przestrzeń dla mieszkańców z inicjatywą, Warszawa 2010, s. 10
4) See: http://poradnik.ngo.pl/x/370401
5) See: http://osektorze.ngo.pl/wiadomosc/990349.html
6) Pora na zmiany, czyli – Samoorganizujące się społeczeństwo, http://iluminaci.com/ads/pora-na-zmiany-czyli-samoorganizujace-sie-spoleczenstwo/
7) see: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:vtWR6WTExlYJ:pu.i.wp.pl/k,NDYzNDcxMTUsNzA3ODA0,f,2.Spoleczenstwo_obywatelskie.doc+&cd=8&hl=pl&ct=clnk&gl=pl
Translation: Anna Orzechowska