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Web Designer

International Civil Society Centre


The Language of Humanity

19th June 2018 by David Labi Gropiusstadt, Berlin-Neukölln. Illustration by Nikhil Chaudhary.

Cause-driven organisations in this era of content overload must use artistic storytelling to powerfully stand out and move hearts to action.

Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica” tells the horrific story of a massacre in a frozen moment, a timeless, terrifying rendering of human pain and mortality. A thousand short news pieces, while containing more information, could rarely connect to the same degree with a viewer’s emotions. Artistic storytelling enables a connection that the content industry usually fails to engender. The word “content” can be a misnomer, often representing something full, and yet empty. That’s not to do any disservice to the many passionate and talented people working in journalism and marketing – and the expanding frontier land where the two worlds cross over.

Cause-driven organisations must do things differently to capture hearts amid this cacophonic content overload. A more artistic form of storytelling is the only way to infuse both the form and the content with the right values and power. Art-based storytelling responds to the recent erosion of trust in journalistic objectivity: if no stories can be believed in the era of “fake news”, then it’s better not to pretend objectivity. Rather, we should embrace subjectivity, as art has always unashamedly done.

At Good Point we work with cause-driven organisations to hone their internal messaging, what we call their “brand DNA”, so they can create unified and consistent communication that has more impact. We’ve found that many such organisations have no time or resources to focus on strategic storytelling: that communication is often an afterthought when it should be an integral part of their entire strategy. While there’s often talk of “disruption”, “innovation” and “creativity” – these values can be conspicuously absent from videos, websites, brochures, articles, event design, and other outward manifestations of the brand’s personality. For example, we worked closely with the International Civil Society Centre on this very website: exploring the values and mission of the team and bringing core qualities like innovation, creativity and approachability to life on the digital platform.

A New Arts Collective

Earlier this year, our team launched a Berlin-based arts collective called Angles. The collective now encompasses more than 35 artists, writers, filmmakers, photographers, and other creative people representing countries as diverse as Germany, the US, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel and Vietnam, among others. These artists employ diverse media to tell stories about Berlin that celebrate urban inclusion and give voices to unchampioned individuals and communities: to humanise the Other, smash silos, and build bridges.

From an integration workshop run by the Angles collective in Neukölln. Photo by Itay Novik.

Ethical organisations would often love to work with artists: they explore similar concepts of humanity, identity and empathy, while celebrating creativity and inspiration. Yet such actors tend to lack the resources to seek out the right creative partners. There’s also a risk of hiring an individual who though a great talent, might be unable to offer the project management and delivery a trusted agency could bring.

On the other hand, while many artists might be concerned with similar values as cause-driven organisations—and often also seek to earn money from creating—they lack the right network, sales skills, or project-management capacity to offer work to the right partner.

Connecting Ethical Organisations with Artists

Good Point functions as a bridge between these artists and ethical organisations: not just making the connection but managing and directing the project. Our team offers brand-strategy experience alongside artistic production from the film, TV and editorial worlds.

Artists of the Angles collective include Nikhil Chaudhary, an architect and urbanist from India who also draws cartoons to chronicle the pressures of urban development. This is an original animated video he made about the problem of pedestrian traffic deaths in Mumbai.  Others include fine artists like Annelisa Leinbach and Peter Wood. Many other members work innovatively together using other media in fresh combinations: more details can be seen on the Angles Instagram page.

Current stories the collective is working on include the production of a map showing the diversity of Kottbusser Tor through audio interviews and photography; an illustrated audio piece on sex work in Berlin; and a series of multimedia works exploring the street musicians of the city. These approaches can all be employed to tell stories for cause-driven organisations, especially as the causes tend to so fully cross over with our own. The values of humanity, identity, empathy and a more cohesive society are best served by creative multimedia storytelling that can express the creativity and innovation so many organisations have in their mission statement.

If ethical organisations are to stand out and capture the current passion for purpose, they can only do it through fresh, original storytelling. That’s why we are connecting artists with humanitarian partners, to help capture hearts with their powerful, urgent messages.

David Labi

Founder and Director

Good Point

David Labi is the founder and director of ethical communications agency Good Point and co-founder of the Angles art collective.


A Place of Excellence and Innovation – The Next Decade at the International Civil Society Centre

20th March 2018 by Wolfgang Jamann Word cloud world map

Today, huge inequalities are contributing to divided and segregated societies and have created antagonising governments riding the waves of populism. Space for civic action, freedom of speech and assembly, and human and civil rights are drastically limited, through both open and opaque government measures. Millions of refugees and war victims need solidarity and services at highest levels of excellence. And the planet’s environmental boundaries are fragile and almost exhausted.

External and internal challenges to the work of Civil Society Organisations are greater than ever. The current climate in which ICSOs operate is difficult and precarious. Plotting the right course will be essential for civil society to survive and thrive. Current internal challenges to our sector, sometimes threaten to override the purpose of work. For example, the moral basis and public trust for ICSOs work are challenged and sometimes eroded through ethical wrongdoings (as exposed by the cases of sexual misconduct). Likewise, through the questioning of the current aid system, and by the legitimate claims for power shifts to the global South.

As I have been entrusted to move the International Civil Society Centre (ICSC) into its second decade, there is a great need for the sector of organised civil society institutions to be modernised, just as more established institutions like UN Security Council or international treaties.

The ICSC is here to support organised civil society in that transformation. Using new technology and talent, it will initiate collective action and ambition to influence critical developments for the achievement of a more just and equitable world, in which no one is left behind.

The task at hand is big, but the Centre has already come a long way in a short space of time. 10 years ago, two visionaries founded the Berlin Civil Society Centre, to provide a space for collaboration and forward thinking on civic space. The founders Burkhard Gnärig and Peter Eigen managed over those years, to create a broad base of International Civil Society Organisations (ICSOs) who carry the Centre today – our shareholders. They provide incredibly valuable services, support and aid to marginalised and underprivileged people. They defend human rights, and improve the world we all live in. Through their diversity, intellectual and financial capital, the leading ICSOs and their partners are helping to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. They serve as watchdogs (challenging corrupt and irresponsible governments), provide a moral compass, create perspectives for children and youth, support women in their fight for equality, drive policymakers towards the protection of our environment, and provide dignity to the poorest of the poor.

This collective of (soft) power is the underlying basis for the Centre’s objectives. To help ICSOs be at the top of their game, we aim to serve them (and the sector) as a think tank, space for collaboration, trend spotter, challenger and supporter of continuous transformation of operating models, structures, processes and organisational culture.

There are great pressures exerted through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digitalisation, new forms of communication and demands for more transparency and demonstrable impact. Challenges come also through new generations of supporters (and opponents), influencers, value brokers and thought leaders – our friends and allies for the future years to come, who expect different ways of engagement, and many want to see strong moral grounds coupled with more agile and contemporary ways of working.
In tackling these challenges and taking our sector forward, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about how we can do that together. In addition, I relish the chance to get going on exciting projects.

If you are interested in our work or want to learn then please get in touch with our team, mail@icscentre.org or me wjamann@icscentre.org

Wolfgang Jamann

Executive Director

International Civil Society Centre

Dr. Wolfgang Jamann is Executive Director of the International Civil Society Centre. Until January 2018 he was Secretary General and CEO of CARE International (Geneva). Before that he led NGO Deutsche Welthungerhilfe and the Alliance 2015, a partnership of 7 European aid organisations. From 2004-2009 he was CEO & Board member of CARE Deutschland-Luxemburg and President of the CARE Foundation. Previously, he worked for World Vision International as a regional representative in East Africa (Kenya) & Head of Humanitarian Assistance at WV Germany. After his Ph.D. dissertation in 1990 he started his career in development work at the German Foundation for International Development, later for the UNDP in Zambia. As a researcher and academic, he has published books and articles on East & Southeast Asia contributing to international studies on complex humanitarian emergencies and conflict management.