At the Agora in Enschede five candidates compete for four places as general CD members: Beáta Matuszka, Kathrin Renner, Miguel Gallardo, Olga Iatsyna, and Pavel Zbornik. The Golden Times asked all of them for an interview. Read today what motivates Kathrin Renner from AEGEE-Passau to candidate as CD member. His preferred task: corporate fundraising. “We need to find creative solutions for our lack of money and try things that we didn’t think of yet”, Kathrin says. “However, we also have to work on the external image of our organisation. And we have to show continuity in our work.” Read also, why she actually even likes Brussels a lot and why AEGEE-Europe should finally fundraise a piano.

Golden Times: Kathrin, five candidates for four CD positions. How do you feel about that?
Kathrin Renner: I was surprised that not more people applied. Many, many people stated their interest previously to the deadline. On the one hand, I’m a bit sad that finally not more people decided to take up the challenge. On the other hand, we have five very qualified candidates and of course, fewer candidates mean better chances to be elected. Still, the tension remains, as one of us will be out, and I’m excited to see the final result in Enschede.

Golden Times: You are focusing on Corporate Fundraising in your candidature. What do you like about the task?
Kathrin: Believe it or not, I like the part of “selling AEGEE” and finding out which is the best strategy to promote it to the respective company or university. AEGEE in fact has a lot more to offer than many people think, it is just a question of presenting it the right way. I also like the fact that you are independent in your work and you can develop your own projects as well as the communication with prospective sponsors. And of course, it’s easy to track your achievements – to check the bank account and see that you just received a big amount of money from company x is amazing.

olden Times: What was the biggest fund-raising success you had?
Kathrin: The biggest fundraising success on local level was our European School 1 in Passau. We fundraised almost 3000 Euros from private sponsors, and even without Youth in Action we provided a high quality environment for the training and even reimbursed the trainers in the end. On European level, it was the Study in Europe Forum in Alicante which raised around 7000 Euros. And recently, although not related to Corporate Fundraising, a Youth in Action application I wrote was approved with a grant of more than 18,000 Euros.

Golden Times: AEGEE always had problems to get money from companies. With which strategy do you want to improve that?
Kathrin: I hope that if elected, I will really have time to focus on corporate fundraising, because time has been a big factor in the previous years – which can be seen by the fact that for the last two years, there has been a CD assistant in the house for this task. Currently, Luis and Marko have already developed a new concept for fundraising, which offers different types of sponsoring depending on the respective company. I would like to continue to develop this – really research for companies that fit the profile of AEGEE and prepare offers that are individually adapted to them. I would also like to explore the possibilities of fundraising through projects as well as getting involved in CSR strategies of big companies. My current internship has given me a good idea on how to do fundraising professionally. Many of the strategies they use for the acquisition of clients can be adapted and used by us.

Golden Times: You want to find new and innovative sources for fundraising. What does that mean?
Kathrin: I believe that we need to find creative solutions for our lack of money and try things that we didn’t think of yet. It starts with researching other organisations and projects: How do they raise the money needed for their activities? And how can this strategy adapted to AEGEE? Which kind of grants are there that we haven’t checked for yet and how can we make use of them? This is not only focused on companies, but sources of money in general.

Golden Times: Fund-raising means give and take. What should AEGEE give more to companies in order to be more attractive as partner?
Kathrin: The biggest selling-point of AEGEE of course are its members. They are open-minded, creative, have great skills in project management, they know their way around Europe, they are interculturally competent, experts of communication, flexible, innovative in problem-solving, intelligent and opinionated. Moreover, there are 13000 of us, and we cover the whole European market. In other words, we have a huge pool of talents that is attractive for many companies. We just have to sell it better. We have to prove to possible partners that we are reliable and that we can pull off projects professionally. We have to work on the external image of our organisation. And we have to show continuity in our work.

Golden Times: Would you be able to do also other tasks? In your candidature you also mention Human Resources…
Kathrin: Those two are already huge fields, and I doubt that there would be a lot of time left besides them. As I mentioned in my application, I have also experience with institutions and could therefore take care of the whole External Relations task field if necessary. I also have some experience in projects and working groups. Nevertheless, Fundraising and Human Resources are the fields that interest me most and that I can contribute to best, based on my previous experience.

Golden Times: How and when did you actually join AEGEE?
Kathrin: I knew that I wanted to join some student organisation when I started my studies in Passau, just to socialise and meet some new people. I ended up joining a different one, but got really bored after two months, because they didn’t really offer anything to us or let us put our own ideas into practice. So a friend of mine dragged me to AEGEE. I stayed and as it usually happens, after three months suddenly found myself in the board as Erasmus responsible. But it wasn’t until half a year later when I attended my first international event, ES1 Riga, that I really understood what AEGEE was.

Golden Times: You did a lot of things in AEGEE already. Which three of them are most important to you?
Kathrin: I usually pour all my heart into every project I do, so prioritising among them is hard. Discovering the world of training and being a trainer at the Academy is one of them, because it a unique way to develop yourself, and it’s amazing to follow and contribute to the development of others. Secondly, clearly, my time as CD assistant in spring 2011, because those two months have been the time when I have been dealing most intensively with AEGEE and taken huge steps in a really short time. Being inside the CD house was a unique experience, because of the many insights about AEGEE, but also about team dynamics and personal relations.

Golden Times: And the third task?
Kathrin: Finally, I enjoy very much my current task of being the Liaison Officer for IFISO, the Informal Forum of International Student Organisations. Things may be moving slow, but it’s opening a broader perspective of youth work on international level and helps me set AEGEE into perspective with other NGOs. Even though we are one of the biggest organisations there, there is still a lot we can learn. I expect a lot of fresh ideas and input from the meeting in Lodz in May.

Golden Times: Which were your best and worst moments so far in AEGEE?
Kathrin: All the best moments I remember are connected to people: dancing on the roof at 6 am in the morning, moments of craziness with the organisers of our ES1 during a meeting, the closing ceremony of ES1 and ES2 where we could almost grasp the opportunities of the future with our hands, giving and receiving amazing feedback from people that know me very well, watching a person overcome their difficulties at a training. It’s the small things that inspire me the most. Bad moments also happen, of course, for me those are moments of demotivation when you are waiting for replies on e-mails, nobody shows up for a Skype meeting or you generally have the impression that somebody doesn’t care about or fulfill his or her responsibilities.

Golden Times: What was your favourite event?
Kathrin: I can’t pick one, I have to go with all the trainings I was part of. Every one had something that made them special: European School 1 Riga was my first international event and everything about it was perfect, at European School 2 Poznan I discovered my idealism, European School Passau was my baby and to see it realised as a dream come true, and European School 2 Castelló was extremely challenging, but it gave me a lot of new insights and ideas.

Golden Times: Please complete this sentence: “AEGEE is for me…
Kathrin: …a place where I feel at home. An endless range of opportunities. A platform by young Europeans for young Europeans to create, discuss and implement ideas. My teacher. And my second family.”

Golden Times: How did you get the idea to candidate for the CD?
Kathrin: The first time the idea came to my mind was at Agora Istanbul during the European Night. During my time as FR Assistant, it got much more concrete, as then I had a clear image of what it actually means to be in the CD, but I didn’t make a final decision until European School 1 in Passau. There, once again, I saw what motivates me again and again to be active in AEGEE: AEGEE changes people. It opens doors for us that maybe previously we didn’t even see yet. And it teaches us to take responsibility in our society. Yet, I see a huge gap between what we could be and what we have been in the past, and where we stand now. There is a lot of potential that remains unused. Closing this gap and bringing AEGEE closer to using its full potential is what I would like to spend from September 2012 to August 2013 on.

Golden Times: You mentioned that you already lived in Brussels as CD assistant. What do you like about Brussels?
Kathrin (smiles): Lots of people complain about the weather, but I actually can’t, since when I was there, we had almost two months of sunshine. What I like very much about Brussels is its diversity: You cross the street or go around a corner, and suddenly you have the feeling that you are in a completely different city. It is certainly not the most attractive European city, but it has a lot of beautiful and interesting places, you just have to discover them for yourself. And of course beer, waffles and chocolates are a plus.

Golden Times: Is there something you dislike about Brussels?
Kathrin: What I don’t like about Brussels, or more specifically, life in CD House, is the high risk to get stuck in the house and cut off from the outside world. You need to make a conscious effort to remember that there is a life outside AEGEE and it can be mentally very challenging. That is also why you need a strong and supportive team in the house. And once you are aware of the problem, you can start dealing with it.

Golden Times: What hobbies do you have?
Kathrin: Recently because of AEGEE I haven’t had very much time for hobbies, but actually I love drawing and painting, I’m very much into music – I used to play the piano and sing in a choir, not I only listen passively – and arts in general. Like every AEGEE member I obviously love travelling. And I enjoy cooking a lot, it is very relaxing.

Golden Times: What’s your dream job after finishing AEGEE?
Kathrin: I don’t know yet, I still need to define what I want to do in the future. I am very passionate about trainings and maybe at some point I would like to make it a profession, but it’s not the easiest path. What I do know about my dream job though is that it has to be varied, challenging, with a certain measure of responsibility, and something that gets me in touch with people, not with the screen all day.

Golden Times: Can you imagine living abroad for more years? Maybe start working in Brussels or will you go back immediately after your CD term ends?
Kathrin: I would like to live abroad for a couple of years, but it really depends on what I will do afterwards, meaning where I can find a master I like or a job. After four years in Passau, even though I loved it, I need to change location to a bigger city. In general, as I have finished my studies in Germany, nothing binds me here right now, so why not explore the world a bit more?

Golden Times: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Kathrin: Cream Cheese – it is a multi-talent! You can use it on your bread, as sauce, instead of butter, as dip…

Golden Times: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Kathrin: Perfectionist, enthusiastic, intuitive, creative, open.

Golden Times: Anything you’d like to add? What should people know about you?
Kathrin (with a big smile): I have a good taste in music. I love a good story, I am a dedicated and hard worker, and I hate Brussels sprouts. If you want to find out anything else, find my in Enschede, I’ll be happy to answer your questions.