[AfH-Chapters] 2020/2021 Update from Action for Happiness Germany

Tobias Polzin tobias.polzin at actionforhappiness.de
Sat Jan 2 14:55:37 CET 2021

Dear Mark, Alex, national chapters,

I hope you managed to stay healthy and well in 2020 and found a happy 
way into the New Year.

I would like to send you an update on the last 3 month's activities of 
Action for Happiness Germany:

  * Based on a amazingly moderated, online strategy-weekend several new
    volunteers joined your coordination team and *refreshed our
    activities tremendously*!
  * We offered monthly online-calls for people interested in
    volunteering. The first zoom call with a 17 minute introduction into
    Action for Happiness Germany was recorded and serves as a first
    introduction on our webpage and for future volunteers. Every month
    new volunteers joined in.
  *  From the strategy-weekend several projects emerged that showed
    already some actions:
      o *Online Exploring What Matters Courses*: We went through the
        course book and identified a few spots where the content needs
        to be modified or enhanced regarding the pandemic (New action
        ideas, mental health studies regarding the pandemic situation,
        working remotely). We reworded the course description page
        (english google translate
        to reflect that purely focussing on happiness feels awkward to
        some people in the Pandemic (adding resilience, confidence).
      o Additionally, as the UK EWM system is basically shutdown, we
        translated the leader/apply/course booking forms, the course
        leader guides, so that everything in the course registration and
        *booking process is now in our hands and in German*! Still there
        are a lot of things to refine and automatize, but we are
        equipped to do the first prototyping and announce a "EWM course
        for future course leaders" which is basically booked out after 3
      o *IMPORTANT:* We changed the *payment description* for the
        course. The previous "the course is worth 100€" was a inexact
        term. Is it a donation or not? Donations have (depending on you
        income) high refunding (up to 40%) in Germany so it is relevant,
        if it is a donation or a contribution. We agreed with Alex to go
        for the Karma Kitchen Style: "Your course has been paid, to
        enable future course you are free to donate. AfH-Germany
        calculates around 100€ for a real world course, 50€ for an
        online course, for course book, technology costs, support from
        Action for Happiness England, cross-financing for course
        participants who can pay nothing or less or courses in other
        regions of the world where the Course expenses do not come back
        in". Well, the 50€ have not been discussed with Alex, but I
        guess this is appropriate, as food and room expenses are not in
        there any longer (google translated donation page
        I will discuss with the tax office, if this is appropriate for a
        legal donation. Even better would be a donation at the end of
        the course (like in Vipassana Meditation Courses
        <https://www.dhamma.org/>). But we have heard that is very
        important to have some upfront commitment for the course,
        otherwise it would be to easy to register for a free event and
        dont show up.
      o *Social Media Boost*: We have now a team that does social media
        activities on facebook, twitter, instagram, pinderest, telegram
        channel. In addition to the calendar quotes, which are now more
        beautifully designed, we have an additional Daily Format with
        interactive tasks and suggestions where one volunteer
        contributes really amazing pictures from her personal library:
      o *Happiness Hotline*: We initiated a support hotline with 3
        volunteers with a background in coaching and positive
        psychology, one hour a week. The first three weeks, it was not
        used by anyone. We have some ideas how to improve the
        presentation of it. (e.g. less thinking of what we can offer,
        more thinking of "empathically connect with a fictive interested
        person and think how would he/she search for such an offer and
        how could he/she overcome hinderances", Testimonials, ...).
      o *Community*: For one year, we have an online community tool
        PeepSo included in our webpage. It is rarely used by external
        people, but inside our active volunteers it's group
        functionality makes it an easy collaboration support.
      o *Volunteer Portals*: We announced AfH votunteering portals and
        got some responses here.
      o *Online Happy Cafe*: We plan our first online happy cafe 20.1.2021.
      o *Weekly Plan:* Some volunteers prepare a weekly plan of online
        events, possibly including events for other organisations.
  * In Autumn we already printed the 24 pages version of the "10 keys
    summary" in Germany and ship it over the homepage on a
    Karma-Kitchen-Payment model.
  * We created monthly newsletters. AfH International supported us with
    mailings to their members in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. We
    ship to 2400 members from the UK database and to 1400 members from
    our database. We conducted a survey on the content of the
    newsletter. The calendar got 4.9 of 5 starts, the entire newsletter
    amazing 4.3!

In general, it feels like that we have *waited *for very long for the 
world to become back to normal again, wanting the world to be different 
than it is. And now *accepting *that for a longer time, the world will 
be different and finding *creative ways to act* upon this insight!
*Thank you, volunteers, for all your contribution!*


  * The number of administrative and organizational tasks grows. We find
    volunteers to contribute in several ways, but still a lot of
    organisational knowledge is focussed in me, Tobias. We have
    basically given up "thinking bigger" in terms of preparing a
    "massive volunteering administration" or looking for a Foundation
    that would be willing to sponsor an executive director or something
    like that. We make up ideas and actions as we encounter issues.
    (Which is not the worst thing! :-)
  * For me, personally, I have some "zoom fatigue" regarding online
    activities, as a particular joy for me is the "bringing people
    together" part of Action for Happiness and I have more than enough
    online contacts with my normal work. Still, what AfH can offer is
    very valuable, but not particularly for me.
  * We are still basically invisible for classical media like magazines,
    radio, TV. We are not experienced in contacting those.

Perhaps you are interested in our basic organisational structure, which 
has changed in some details:

  * There is a non-profit association with 3 board members that serves
    as the legal foundation, but effectively does nothing. This year we
    had the first legal checking of our non-profit status and we passed.
  * There are now 7 people that committed themselves to participate in
    the organisation for at least 6 months. There are around 10 others
    that participate in separate tasks (translating the monthly
    calendar, ...). We have mailing lists for translators and
    supporters, but the activity here is rather low.
  * Every 6 months, we arrange a weekend together, for revitalising the
    contact. The last 2 have been only virtual and the next will be
    probably too.
  * Every 3 months, we do a session of review (our past activities, to
    celebrate), retrospective (what has to be changed in our processes)
    and planning (what is the focus of the next 3 months) (adopted from
    Scrum methodology)
  * Every week, we have a 30 minutes zoom webcall with a personal round
    with "30 mindful seconds", "one good thing", "current internal
    weather"; and looking at the active projects "celebrate success",
    "appointments for next week", "impediments/difficulties/questions"
    (adopted from Scrum "daily"), with up to 10 members.

*Dear national chapters, is there anything to report from you?* I would 
find it nice, if you all report something about your current 
achievements, difficulties, feelings, plans!

Best wishes


Ich werde versuchen, mehr Glück und weniger Unglück in der Welt um mich herum zu stiften.
(Action for Happiness Deutschland.www.actionforhappiness.de)

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