Measuring and monitoring impact is essential to an NGO’s work and operations. For Czechitas, impact also reflects the value and purpose essential to our community.
Since our formal start on 22 August 2014, Czechitas has worked tirelessly to create career and educational pathways for women in all areas of IT.
We work to increase the diversity of women in IT at all levels and throughout all sectors. We strive to strengthen opportunities for employers to retain and grow talented teams. We aim towards greater economic and social outcomes for women in all areas of their lives and livelihoods. Our operating model is committed to creating social and economic value, instead of accumulating resources for organizational benefit or personal gain.
Yet many people often forget— or simply do not realize— that Czechitas is first and foremost a proud Czech non-governmental organization (NGO).
Social impact is a vital element of our raison d'être
Gender equality is a core value of our organization. Digital potential for all women is central to our purpose. And like most NGOs, our team and extended community is filled with passionate people, a culture of purpose, and infinite possibilities for social good.
From our earliest days, we made a conscious choice to focus on systemic change. Working across all phases of IT skills development to each stage of career success, we ensure greater results at an increasingly larger scale.
We take great pride in our mission to inspire, educate and apply new talents for stronger diversity and competitiveness in IT. We are motivated to see improved outcomes for women and intentional in our actions to build bridges across sectors. The chance to make a difference, the opportunity to serve and support others, and the ability to bring hope to communities and society form the core of why we exist as an NGO and what we do as a force for social impact.
The reality of a Czech NGO is one of constant challenges
Czech NGOs face constant scrutiny by those who do not share the desire for hope, progress, and change. Uncertainty and confusion often arise around concepts such as charity, philanthropy, volunteerism, and social entrepreneurship. Media attention on NGOs and the sector’s impact remains scant.
We are often asked why organizations like ours should receive money for services that could be performed for free. Public sector support is frequently the primary (if not only) source of income for NGOs to meet their basic costs. But the support does not match the general operating needs of many groups. And it often does not reflect the value-added benefits or great organizations operating at the local, regional, or national level.
Public perception of what an NGO is, and awareness of what an NGO does, remains low across the nation. Public distrust towards NGOs in general runs high among the region. And the region, unfortunately, is not a top priority for many outside donors and funders.
This means the great work by so many NGOs deserving recognition and support is overlooked, underappreciated, and not fully understood. And as needs and demand only continue to grow, organizations throughout the region work hard to operate at an effective scale while making the best use of limited resources.
Czechitas is part of the broader social economy
NGOs too often are defined by what they are not, instead of what they are and what they do. For this reason, more NGOs around the world have adopted the label of social impact organizations or social purpose organizations. This recenters the focus on organizations working primarily to achieve measurable results, regardless of structure, legal form, or business model.
Czechitas is recognized under Czech law as a "zapsaný ústav", or registered institute. This means we are established for the express purpose of performing socially and/or economically beneficial activities that are accessible to the general public.
We are fortunate to work across sectors with other entities through partnerships and collaborations to ensure that women can develop their skills and talents in IT. And we are grateful to work with a diverse and inclusive range of businesses, agencies, education institutions, philanthropy, and individuals.
Our social purpose is one of fairness, accountability, transparency, and democratic participative governance. We are driven by the principle of solidarity and the primacy of people over profits. All of these elements are crucial to the trust, credibility, and relevancy required to do our work on behalf of the people and communities we proudly represent.
Our work engages support from both Czech and non-Czech entities
Czechitas is directly responsible for attracting thousands of women to IT/ICT fields of work and study. While many of our graduates and alumni find success in the Czech Republic, others have created their own paths in other countries. Our partners and clients include Czech businesses as well as multinational corporations. And we are honored by the recognition we have received from our social impact peers in Europe and internationally.
Recent McKinsey & Company research has identified the Central and Eastern European region as one of “digital challengers”. The region’s digital economy carries the potential for significant social and economic benefit, with a potential for widespread impact. Among the key factors spotlighted were: (1) primary and secondary education; (2) ICT and STEM talent pools; (3) high-quality digital infrastructure; (4) forward thinking technology innovation perspectives; and (5) vibrant digital ecosystems. Women are an essential element in this growth, but their ability to succeed and thrive increasingly requires familiarity with– and access to— technologies and relationships beyond geographic boundaries.
While Czechitas is dedicated to IT skills building for women in the Czech Republic, our work also creates powerful stories which can and do inspire women elsewhere. The ability to balance both domestic and international relationships enables Czechitas to learn from and contribute towards a vibrant digital movement in a proactive manner.
Impact is not simply a matter of collecting and reporting data
Organizations aiming for greater public benefit and social value must measure and monitor the changes that flow directly from their programs and services. They use data to refine and adapt to changing circumstances. They also look for ways to engage stakeholders beyond mere input and feedback.
For Czechitas, our value, our worth, and our effectiveness are not the statistics in our annual report or on our website. The need for women in IT is rising, and the demands placed on women in IT are growing. It is not enough only to convey how many people we reach or the level of client satisfaction.
Beyond personal stories and anecdotes, we actively collect data and monitor KPIs and metrics regarding our programs and services. Our learners and clients power our momentum on continuous quality measurement and process improvement.
An ongoing challenge for social impact organizations like ours is communicating impact in ways that are meaningful, tangible, and relatable to our stakeholders. We must prove that we add value to our audiences and communities. We must show that we meet the high standards we set for our work. As a changemaker for our economy and society, we must provide a clear and meaningful context for our work. We must communicate in ways that are relevant and credible for our stakeholders, partners, and supporters.
Social good happens here
In the Czech Republic, small but mighty steps toward change are happening every day. NGOs and businesses proactively build partnerships and collaborations to address gaps in community services. NGOs and government agencies engage in constructive dialogues to address key policy issues requiring systemic change. NGOs and media interact with greater insights. The general public grows its awareness of the range and diversity of NGOs from the local to international level. And NGOs continue to grow their confidence in communicating their unique value for communities, society, and the economy.
Czechitas owes its record of achievement to an active and supportive impact community. Our social ecosystem is passionate about women and the value of lifelong learning for individuals, families, and communities. Growing our impact means that we provide clear pathways to engagement among our stakeholder audiences.
As we grow, we gain the ability to retain support and develop new resources across a wider and diversified base. We also increase our confidence in providing vital insights and perspectives to business, government, philanthropy, and academia. Our ability to build bridges also ensures that we sustain our work, particularly during challenging times and circumstances.
The change resulting directly from Czechitas’ work is our social impact. Beyond the personal satisfaction of our clients, the validation of our impact is essential for Czechitas as an organization and a movement for greater social good.