Labo­ra­tory report: Appe­tite for change!

StiftungSchweiz is starting a new chapter, with co-creation being the magic word. It is seeking eager transformers and innovators who are keen to actively shape the StiftungSchweiz philanthropy platform, as initiated by the new CEO, Stefan Schöbi. Together with an external coach, the team set out to work with the clients. To find out more we recently interviewed Tais Okai, who is responsible for social media at StiftungSchweiz.

Imple­men­ting the plan requi­res not only the appro­priate mind­set and a well-coor­di­na­ted team, but also the right tools: for exam­ple, the ‘kill your darling’ process. The exter­nal coach supports the further deve­lo­p­ment of the plat­form to build it on a solid foun­da­tion in a custo­mer-centric way.

Laun­ched in 2014, StiftungSchweiz initia­ted a trans­for­ma­tion process at the end of 2022. How strong is your appe­tite for change?

Change is a central part of my social media acti­vity. I feel very comfor­ta­ble in a chan­ging envi­ron­ment, I like to try out new things and test what works, and how. It takes courage to admit that mista­kes can happen, or accept when the desi­red effect fails to mate­ria­lise, but this imme­diate feed­back – which is not always posi­tive – is valuable.

The first step is to focus on the cata­lo­gue of services for funding foun­da­ti­ons. What expec­ta­ti­ons or hopes do you have in this regard?

I am exci­ted about the target group of funding foun­da­ti­ons, which we are curr­ently actively addres­sing. I hope that they are moti­va­ted – just as we are – to inten­si­vely pursue the digi­ta­li­sa­tion of the sector. My expe­ri­ence from a previous job in an NPO has shown me that this is not always easy. Entren­ched struc­tures often slow down the work, because coope­ra­tion also needs to be lear­ned, and this absorbs a lot of time that is lack­ing else­where. It defi­ni­tely needs a drive for change: the open­ness is there, but tack­ling change also means work. In my opinion, other sectors are alre­ady slightly further ahead.

How are you expe­ri­en­cing the way in which StiftungSchweiz is curr­ently trans­forming itself?

Working in a start-up is very lively. In a small struc­ture, you can move a lot in a short time. That’s why I think it’s great that we can try out many things again at this stage and get the best out of existing resources.

Do you need exter­nal profes­sio­nal support for this?

I think that’s very helpful. A well-rehe­ar­sed team often can’t see the forest for the trees. We become blind to our own mista­kes and often rely on our own assump­ti­ons, for exam­ple regar­ding the customer’s perspec­tive. We have proba­bly vali­da­ted these too little so far. In other words: we’ve made assump­ti­ons about our target group and their wishes and have not asked enough whether these are true. Maybe we were a little afraid of hearing the opini­ons and criti­ques! It takes time to deve­lop and test a good product. The timing is certainly sensi­ble and effec­tive to shed light on the proces­ses and methods under the guidance of exter­nal experts and improve them. Going through this process as a whole team is a very bonding experience.

The kick-off was the work­shop on ‘custo­mer centri­city’ on 1 Decem­ber 2022. What did you take away from this day for your work?

I find the approach of not seeing the process in a linear way to be exci­ting and coura­ge­ous, but rather that you move forward in small steps and always loop back when you notice that the calcu­la­tion does not yet add up. This helps to reco­g­nise early on that certain products are simply not desi­red or still need to be honed. I find this way of thin­king to be convincing.

This is known as ‘kill your darling’, namely being able to let go and start again. Is it often easier said than done?

Yes, you have to be able to do that. It makes sense to regu­larly question your own proces­ses and products, as well as not being afraid of regres­sing. Espe­ci­ally in a start-up, you have the feeling that you always must produce and bring out some­thing new. I ther­e­fore find the refe­rence to ‘looking back’ very helpful.

Tais Okai, respon­si­ble for social media at StiftungSchweiz in an inter­view with Clau­dia Dutli, publi­shing direc­tor of The Philanthropist

What does this mean for StiftungSchweiz in concrete terms? Going back to square one?

Fort­u­n­a­tely not! Because the idea of our foun­der Peter Buss is still visio­nary and our plat­form is successful on the market. Howe­ver, we have not yet mana­ged to really involve all parti­ci­pants in the sector. To achieve this, we must approach them, let them speak, listen and try to respond to their needs. We have to iden­tify the concrete ideas that work step by step. In the work­shop, we grou­ped them into clusters, which makes it clear which needs occur more frequently and how these can be incor­po­ra­ted into the further deve­lo­p­ment of the platform.

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