Stephanie Gilbert

Stephanie Gilbert (Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) in cooperation with the Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women (ESE)): Stephanie is originally from Oklahoma City. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in international relations and history. Stephanie interned with the International Crisis Group and the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, and with the US State Department in Tbilisi, Georgia. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying for a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree at Georgetown University, with a focus on conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction.

09 Aug

I only have a few days left in Skopje, and I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone by. During my last week I’m working on putting together a case study of ESE’s financial operations and fundraising strategies, to be used by other Macedonian NGOs. ESE has been really innovative in terms of fundraising and outreach.

For instance, for International Women’s Day on March 8, ESE produced a documentary on domestic violence in Macedonia, which ran during prime time on several TV channels. ESE has also gotten support from firms like T-Mobile, which helps them operate a toll-free hotline, and from television and radio stations which have granted them free air time.

Even small things like putting donation boxes in local supermarkets can be revolutionary in their way – it’s never been done here before. In six months ESE raised about $500 this way – not a whole lot of money in terms of their operations, but considering that each person probably donated less than a dollar, it means ESE’s message is getting out to a lot of people. Anyway, it’s pretty interesting to see how the concept of civic participation is developing here.

Unlike most NGOs in the country, ESE has a full-time development coordinator who manages grant applications, public relations and outreach activities, and capacity-building within the organization. Nonetheless, it’s still hard to tap into local sources of funding, which is critical because depending on foreign donors is obviously not a viable long-term strategy. Project grants are short-term by definition, and ESE’s major donor is planning to withdraw from Macedonia in 2009. So it’s really critical that they start cultivating local businesses and individuals—something that not many NGOs here even try to do. Recent studies have shown that Macedonians are willing to give money to charitable causes, but because the civil society sector is a relatively new thing here, it’s hard to convince people of why they should give to some NGO they’ve never heard of. ESE has really done a lot to lead the way in terms of PR, media outreach, etc., so I think sharing some of what they’ve learned will be useful to other groups in the country.

Last weekend I finally made it down to Lake Ohrid. It was as beautiful as I’d been told – but I managed to be there for the only cold and rainy day of the entire summer!

After ten weeks here and having traveled to several different countries, I am still waiting for the man whose reaction when I tell him I’m working with a women’s rights group is something other than a roll of the eyes and some muttered comment about women knowing their place. Just one. I will go home happy.

Posted By Stephanie Gilbert

Posted Aug 9th, 2008


  • Amy Burrows

    August 9, 2007


    Stephanie! Thanks for this blog… it’s great to know what you’re up to. 🙂 You have a great ability to tell a story that weaves the Roma and gender-related social issues into descriptions of your work with ESE. You make AP proud and your audience certainly gets an education! Now if only Macedonian men wouldn’t roll their eyes when “womens rights” is mentioned.

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