Human Resources Management in NGOs based on AEGEE-Europe

Term Paper, 2003

45 Pages, Grade: 1,0 (A)



1. Introduction
1.1. Aim of this paper
1.2. Definitions
1.2.1. Human Resources
1.2.2. NGO
1.2.3. AEGEE

2. Human Resources in AEGEE
2.1. Specific needs of an NGO like AEGEE
2.1.1. Knowledge transfer
2.1.2. motivation
2.1.3. Intercultural competences
2.2. History of Human Resources in AEGEE
2.3. The Academy
2.3.1. Structure
2.3.2. Tools
2.3.3. Funding

3. Internal Education Program
3.1. Aims
3.2. Target groups
3.3. Events
3.3.1. European School I
3.3.2. European School II
3.3.3. Training for Trainers
3.3.4. Public Relations European School
3.3.5. Fund Raising European School
3.3.6. Information Technology European School
3.3.7. Local Training Course
3.3.8. Comité Directeur Training School

4. Conclusion



1. Introduction

When we talk about Human Resources, we mostly think about Human Resources in Companies, about recruitment, assessment centres, work law, firing, salaries, etc. However, there is a sector where Human Resources are just as important as in companies, but where the above mentioned characteristics are less relevant; and the focus is more put on development, motivation and training. This sector is NGOs, especially the ones with voluntary workers.

AEGEE (Association des Etats Généruax des Etudiants de l’Europe), a European students association is such an NGO. Over the years of existence of AEGEE-Europe, many people have come and have gone. People came and organized great events. People went to have successful careers. People came to enjoy the integration with other students. People went and had learnt a lot

AEGEE as a students association is a good place to learn, experiment and to enjoy. To facilitate the students who are members of AEGEE in this process, a lot of time and effort is spent on the development of people, the human resources for AEGEE. To be able to organize the great events that have been organized and that will be organized in the future, AEGEE needs a well developed pool of human resources, able to take up big challenges, to work for AEGEE and to enjoy, to be professional in a student’s organization.

1.1. Aim of this paper

“Human Resource Development plays a critical role in creating and sustaining high performance organizations.”[1]

NGOs have to cope with very specific problems in the field of their Human Resources. This paper is an attempt to show, how an NGO can work on these problems and efficiently manage their Human Resources. This is done by taking the example of AEGEE-Europe and its Human Resources body, the Academy.

In a first step, to avoid misunderstandings, the terms Human Resources and NGO are defined in order to create a common ground on what will be talked about. Also AEGEE is presented as a youth NGO.

Further on, the Human Resources Management of AEGEE are described and analysed. Here the emphases lay on specific needs and problems of NGOs. In order to show how Human Resources Management can develop within an organisation, a short overview of the history of Human Resources in AEGEE is given. The end of this chapter deals with costs and funding of Human Resources development, as well as the controversies it brings along.

Eventually the internal education program, as concrete solution for covering AEGEE’s Human Resources needs is presented. First the aims and targets, then the different types of events and their benefit are described.

1.2. Definitions

There are a variety of definitions for the terms “Human Resources” and “NGO”. Here, two complementary definitions, suiting best the purpose of this paper were chosen for each of the terms.

1.2.1. Human Resources

“The people that staff and operate an organization … The organizational function that deals with the people …”[2]

“Human Resources contribute to organization success by planning for, acquiring, deploying, maintaining, and developing a productive … workforce.”[3]

1.2.2. NGO

Non-Governmental Organisation. The World Bank defines NGOs as "private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development" (Operational Directive 14.70). In wider usage, the term NGO can be applied to any non-profit organization which is independent from government. NGOs are typically value-based organizations which depend, in whole or in part, on charitable donations and voluntary service. Although the NGO sector has become increasingly professionalized over the last two decades, principles of altruism and voluntarism remain key defining characteristics.[4]

“A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political participation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health. They provide analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms and help monitor and implement international agreements. Their relationship with offices and agencies of the United Nations system differs depending on their goals, their venue and the mandate of a particular institution.”[5]

1.2.3. AEGEE-Europe

AEGEE-Europe stands for Association des Etats Generaux des Etudiants de l’Europe –or European Students Forum. AEGEE takes its name from one of the birthplaces of democracy, the Aegean Sea and the first parliament established at the dawn of French Revolution, Les Etats Generaux.[6][7] Founded in Paris in 1985, AEGEE is a European wide students association that aims at the integration of European youth, especially students. With 17.000 members in over 260 cities in 40 countries, AEGEE is one of the largest interdisciplinary students associations in Europe. AEGEE promotes a unified Europe, cross-border cooperation, communication, integration among students and strives to create an open and tolerant society of tomorrow. AEGEE is a voluntary, non-profit secular organization that is not affiliated to any political party.[8]

Every year around 140 large scale conferences are organized all over Europe. Recent examples include “EU & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” in Hamburg, “NGO Communication” in Sakarya and “Minorities in Bulgaria and Romania” in Sofia.[9]

What makes AEGEE truly European is that it does not use a national level, but solely relies on local groups (called antennae) in university cities all over Europe. The structure itself does not allow a creation of physical borders and tries to erase the existence of mental borders between students coming from all parts of Europe.

To ensure a proper communication and contact within the network, the Network Commission (NetCom) was set up in 1997. AEGEE’s Network has been divided into 10 different regions, each one of them is coordinated by a Network Commissioner who reports to the Comité Directeur.

The Comité Directeur (CD) is the European board of Directors, seated in Brussels, consisting of 9 AEGEE members, elected twice a year at the association’s general assembly (Agora). The CD is the administrative and representative body of AEGEE-Europe, being responsible for contacts with the European Union and the council of Europe among others, as well as other student associations and media.

In order to contribute and give support in areas like Higher Education, East-West relations, Culture, International Politics and Public Relations, the supporting working groups have been created.

Larger scale conferences are regularly organized and they cover various topics as: “Peace and Stability", "Borderless Europe", "Managing the new Eastern Border" or “Global Employee”.

AEGEE enjoys support from the European Commission, has consultative status at the Council of Europe and UN. AEGEE is also a member of the European Youth Forum and has co-operated with UNESCO on international projects.

Last but not least, AEGEE is made of incredibly motivated young people, who work for what they believe, getting in return personal satisfaction and hope that they have slightly influenced the course of things they have touched. In short, the European minded will find in AEGEE an almost perfect environment to learn and act as a European.[10]

To motivate and train these young people that make AEGEE to what it is, a supportive Working Group was founded, called the AEGEE Academy.

2. Human Resources in AEGEE

2.1. Specific needs of an NGO like AEGEE

2.1.1. Knowledge transfer

Changing numbers and/or background of members as well as lack of resources are common problems of many youth organisations throughout Europe and they clearly show a need for planning.[11]

Indeed, the average membership in AEGEE lasts 2,5 years, which means a high turnover of members. If in such a situation knowledge transfer is not diligently taken care of, a lot of valuable information will be lost, which can lead to the slowing down and even to a regression in quality and quantity of the association’s activities.

Being a students association implies of course that most of AEGEE members are students. However the events (conferences, meetings, congresses, summer universities, etc.) organized within AEGEE are expected to be of a certain standard and demand specialized, professional skills of (project) management from the organizer.

Often a young person is in a management position within a youth organisation not because s/he wants to be a manager, but because s/he has the opportunity to serve the organisation for a limited period of time. It is therefore common that such a person has not had management training beforehand. Often this situation is the first time the person has had to formally manage something. How can this person best cope with new duties, new people, new emotions? Usually the main reaction is to do things; trying to start performing as soon as possible.[12]

This is one of the major problems within AEGEE, people rushing through, not taking the time to gain experience or at least get informed, in order to perform better. In the past it happened all too often to see inexperienced members either being pushed to do a highly demanding task, because there was no one else to do it, or who overestimated themselves taking up a project for which they were not qualified enough. In most cases the project failed, leaving behind a demotivated team and tearing down the image of high quality events. In order to avoid such situation, a minimum of knowledge transfer, training and support should be provided to fresh members wanting to take over a specialized task.

2.1.2. Motivation

Another common need in NGOs is the motivation of the members. In AEGEE all members work on voluntary basis, no one is paid.

Therefore it is important to realize what motivation is, why members are willing to sacrifice their time and efforts and how this motivation can be kept up.

“What is motivation? Handy (1997) calls it the “E-forces”: energy, excitement, enthusiasm and effort.”[13]

It is important to know that volunteers are never completely altruistic and don’t work for nothing. Their E-forces are not given for free, but only in exchange for the fulfilment of certain needs of the volunteer. The volunteer (unconsciously) calculates whether the effort to give is appropriate in relationship to the hoped-for benefit[14]. Most of the time, this benefit is of a symbolic or social value. Volunteer management means keeping volunteers happy and fulfilling their needs in order to maintain their E-forces.[15]


[1] Family Planning Management Development Technical Unit Management Sciences for Health, Human Resources Development Assessment Instrument for Non-Governmental Organisations, 1998, p.1

[2] W.R. Tracy in accessed 21.06.2003

[3] N.L. Bloom in accessed 21.06.2003

[4] accessed 21.06.2003

[5] accessed 21.06.2003

[6] for more information, find the history and the structure of AEGEE-Europe in attachment 1 and 2

[7] AEGEE-Pecs, Making European Citizens, 2003, p.5

[8] accessed 21.06.2003

[9] AEGEE-Pecs, a.a.O.

[10] accessed 21.06.2003

[11] Council of Europe and European Commission, Organisational Management T-kit, Strasbourg July 2000, p.71

[12] Council of Europe and European Commission, a.a.O., p.17

[13] Council of Europe and European Commission, International Voluntary service, Strasbourg July 2002, p.55

[14] Council of Europe and European Commission, a.a.O.

[15] Council of Europe and European Commission, a.a.O., p.56

Excerpt out of 45 pages


Human Resources Management in NGOs based on AEGEE-Europe
University of Applied Sciences Bremen  (Economics)
Personal Finance
1,0 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
1416 KB
Human, Resources, Management, NGOs, AEGEE-Europe, Personal, Finance
Quote paper
Natalie Kolbe (Author), 2003, Human Resources Management in NGOs based on AEGEE-Europe, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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