Minutes of Sixth Meeting of VINN (Vermont International Nonprofit Network)

July 1, 2003 Institute for Sustainable Communities, Montpelier 4 6 pm

Present

Animals Asia: Andi Mowrer
ECOLOGIA: Carolyn Schmidt, Giedre Donauskaite
Global Health Council: Tina Flores
Green Across the Pacific: Peter Lynch
Institute for Sustainable Communities: Barbara Felitti, Justin Johnson, Sara Witter
Peter Ames Nonprofit Consulting: Peter Ames
Project Harmony: Jared Cadwell, Greg Ducot
Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, Middlebury College: Charlotte Tate
Salzburg Seminar: Meg Harris, Scott Atherton
Vermont Council on World Affairs, St. Michael's College: Bonnie Tangelos
Vermont Teacher Diversity Scholarship Program: Phyl Newbeck

Absent with Notification:

Population Media Center: Bill Ryerson
Save Our World - Vermont: Marion Leonard
Volunteers for Peace: Peter Coldwell

  1. Networking / introductions of new members
    We welcomed Tina Flores of Global Health Council and Bonnie Tangelos of Vermont Council on World Affairs, who each briefly explained their mission and recent activities. Global Health Council is a membership organization which includes many multi-lateral agencies and health care providers' groups. GHC specializes in advocacy and publicity of best practices on public health policy issues; they have offices in Washington DC and in White River Junction. Vermont Council on World Affairs was originally founded in 1954 as part of the increased US interest in international issues at that time; in the past several years it has moved to St. Michael's College and become increasingly active in educational programs and services, such as hosting speakers and international visitors.

  2. Brochures
    The newly printed VINN brochures were distributed (200 copies to each participating organization). Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program and Volunteers for Peace are the only ones who have not received their brochures; please contact Carolyn Schmidt to arrange delivery.

  3. Shared information practical issues
    This discussion centered around the American Enterprise Institute's new website and public relations effort, titled "NGO Watch" (www.ngowatch.org) There is concern that this is an effort to define NGOs as out of step with current American governmental policies, and/or as unaccountable for their actions. We are uncertain exactly where this is going, who the "target audience" is, and what implications it could potentially have for American NGOs, especially those which receive government funding.
    Institute for Sustainable Communities is the only VINN member listed on the NGO Watch website at this time. ISC is also a member of "Interaction", a Washington-based organization which lobbies on behalf of NGOs, which is monitoring the development of this issue
    Points made in the discussion included concern that this could have a "chilling effect" on NGOs both in the US and abroad who are not in conformity on the "hot button" political issues. Participants affirmed the need to document and publicize exactly what NGOs do accomplish abroad, to explain how our work contributes to social stability, democratization, good governance, economic growth and environmental protection worldwide. We also should ensure that each of our own NGOs has a good record of money management and transparency which can stand up to outside scrutiny. We will check with VANPO to encourage them to do more publicity on their survey which documents contributions of the non-profit sector in Vermont to our state's economy and quality of life.

  4. Working Together
    All VINN members will receive each others' e-mail addresses, so each one of us will be able to communicate directly and easily with all the others. (Carolyn recommends use of Outlook Express "Group" feature)

  5. Criteria for membership in VINN

    Suggested criteria:

    1. Vermont connection - physical location alone is not enough. Maintaining an office, or having Vermont non-profit registration, is more meaningful.
    2. Demonstration of a commitment to international work, perhaps as shown in the mission statement
    3. Participation in VINN meetings, or other ways the organization adds value to the group - perhaps a clause that any organization that misses 3 meetings without notification loses its 'active membership' status
    4. Contributing financial support - those organizations now listed in the Brochure have taken the first step
    We agreed that the matter needs more time for reflection and discussion. It will be taken up at the next meeting.
  6. Next Meeting: Tuesday October 21, 2003, 3:30 - 5:30 pm at Global Health Council, White River Junction.
  7. Agenda Items for October Meeting

    1. Networking / introductions
    2. Shared information - Practical Issues - Effective Use of Media and Publicity
    3. Shared information - Regional Focus - Latin America
    4. Criteria for Membership in VINN / Formation of sub-committees
    5. Dinner "eVINNt" - initial planning stage
    6. Other items as time allows: progress reports on events co-sponsored / organized by VINN members, internship programs, follow-ups on previous discussions
    7. Schedule next meeting time/ place