Vanessa Letizia, Executive Director at Greeneration Foundation tells how the non-profit platform is dealing with waste issues.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?:
Vanessa Letizia: We managed to survive; of course, many things must be adjusted to the current condition, but we have to continue to live our lives. In fact, sometimes we find a new perspective of life because we are forced to adapt to this new normal.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Greeneration Foundation.
Vanessa Letizia: I joined Greeneration Indonesia in 2011, and it started as a movement as one of the solutions for environmental issues in Indonesia. One of the programs that I led is the National Plastic Bag Diet Campaign (Kampanye Diet Kantong Plastik Nasional) in 2012 because our organization has an interest in waste issues, specifically plastic bags. In 2014, we finally founded Greeneration Foundation as a non-profit platform to direct our programs to be more focused on the issues and targets that we aim to achieve.
How does Greeneration Foundation innovate?
Vanessa Letizia: As a growing national NGO, we still face many limitations and challenges. We have to create more innovations to be more advanced and create a broader and bigger impact. One of our innovations is trying to expand our focus. Previously, the focus of our organization is only on waste management issues. However, now we are trying to broaden our focus into the issue of Sustainable Consumption & Production (SCP) without eliminating the issue of waste management from our focus. We also try to find more tools, strengthen our digital presence to widen our outreach and impact.
Asides from that, we also start to process and develop a strategy to raise unrestricted funds as one of our efforts to achieve future financial stability for our organization. We also have to make some adjustments to our existing programs due to the COVID-19. Our team is challenged to be more creative and innovative in the midst of existing obstacles. However, we managed to launch a new program as our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping waste pickers and waste operators to save from COVID-19 by giving them aid packages and basic education about the virus.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Vanessa Letizia: During this pandemic, we realize that we need to have sufficient emergency funds, that we’re still lacking behind at the moment. There are several delays in our income donations, so we need to carry out various strategies to optimize employees across programs and divisions. And we also try to find other organizational funding strategies that are more relevant to current situations; we’re developing individual donation methods to support our organization activities, so we don’t depend on programs that have a lot of limitations because of the pandemic, and for now, we’re on the right track.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Vanessa Letizia: For now, we haven’t done any layoffs, but we’re trying to centralize our recruitment process and budget calculations, unlike before when we give the divisions the freedom to manage and calculate their needs regarding manpower. We also started to develop employee performance reviews to respond to our current situation with the work from home methods and other new strategies because of the pandemic, so we could have a more clear decision-making process regarding the productivity of our employees, should we or should we not do the layoffs.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Vanessa Letizia: Currently, we are also trying to build clients/customer retention that we divide into two strategies. First, the partnership with donors, program partners, public figures, influencers, brands, community, organization, and corporates is maintained by the Communication & Partnership Department, while the partnership with media partners is managed by the media division. Secondly, client/customer retention is also managed by the program division, especially for the program sponsors/donors, program partners for technical implementation, and wider communities. For now, we haven’t used any tools; even though previously we have learned about CRM tools but we still cannot use the tool effectively.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Vanessa Letizia: We do benefit from government grants in the past. Although we have worked with many government ministries, agencies, and regional governments as well, we have only received grants from the Ministry of Public Works and Housing from 2017 to 2019. This specifically supports one of our largest events, which was the Indonesia Zero Waste Jamboree (Jambore Indonesia Bersih dan Bebas Sampah/JIBBS). This activity gathers all zero-waste activists across Indonesia to strengthen collaboration and waste management movement in Indonesia.
To be honest, the role of government that we focus on in our current activities is in terms of advocacy; for funding, we seek more from other donor institutions.
Your final thoughts?
Vanessa Letizia: The year of a pandemic is the year of learning; we never expected that we would need to face this kind of situation, that we need to adapt fastly, we need to adjust to new strategies, we need to find other opportunities that we never looked at before. But this time also reminded us to believe in ourselves, trust our team; though it is a hard situation for everyone, but we managed to survive.