Alexandra Fuchs

Donor Services Coordinator SOS Children's Villages International

Blood, Sweat And Tears

They say that every artistic accomplishment consist of 10% talent and 90% transpiration.

My story is about the art of keeping the stone rolling – it is about all these slightly boring administrative tasks that need to be done but don´t come with any tangible reward.

The SOS Vikings
Up until lately my team, the SOS Vikings – that is how we called ourselves – have supported SOS Denmark, SOS Norway and SOS Sweden in all matters sponsorship. Together the Scandinavian Associations harbor almost two thirds of all SOS sponsors worldwide.

During the past 15 years, the entire span of my SOS era, the SOS Vikings have written child profiles, departure letters, transfers and name changes and taken care of all kinds of requests ranging from “The sponsor did not get the mid-year-report” until “The child looks different in the new picture, does it really exist? “

We have prepared 10.000s of profiles for campaigns only. Every few years, SOS Norway puts on a TV Gala where 8 000 to 12.000 new sponsors sign up for a child sponsorship within the frame of two weeks. This year, for the fourth time, Sweden has produced the TV documentary “A journey for life”, bringing 4.000 to 6.000 new child and village sponsors in the period of the four weeks that the programs four episodes aired. The preparation for these campaigns start months in advance, so you have to write profiles that will still be up-to-date and fresh many weeks from now. We try to make the progress somehow visible by hanging up huge posters and tick of the numbers of the profiles written using colors and drawings, because a tick-box in an Excel sheet has no real Feng Shui value…

Then there are DR TVcampaigns (direct TV), D2D (door to door) and F2F (face to face) appeals throughout the year that needs preparation and of course, every departure notice requires a profile for the replacement sponsorship. The ones I love the most are the unannounced campaigns: “Oh by the way, we decided to have a test run for the Sponsorship Lab and since Sweden is one our test markets, over the course of the next two month you will have to write 200 child profiles starting now!”

Day in and day out, year in and year out – this is what we do. We keep the wheel spinning.
Together with our Promoting and Supporting Associations (PSAs) and our National Associations coordinators, we have found ways to sooth worried and upset sponsors whose sponsored children took a wrong turn, and had to go to jail or the like. The sponsors knew about these incidents via Facebook where they have had regular contact with their sponsored child. It is difficult to the find the right words when the sponsor knows more about the incident than I do, and even if I did know something, I must not say anything compromising.

We process 100 departures, meanwhile 200 new ones are waiting. 
Late departures, underage marriages, drug addictions, abuse and the most tragic of all, the death of a sponsored child, where there actually is no suitable wording at all, must nonetheless be communicated to the sponsors and/or to the PSAs.

In these cases, we have written texts that give the sponsor enough material to feel informed so that they don´t feel the need to ask follow-up questions, but not enough material to violate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child or paramount data protection laws.

The SOS Vikings have evolved to professional communication diplomats and determined Knights of Children´s Rights to privacy, whose whole existence is limited to a hamster wheel.

Now you may ask yourself how you survive these repetitive tasks. Cause to be honest with you, most of the departures are still regular reunifications and such, and how many ways are there to describe a reunification on the base of data protection and child convention – not too many, I can assure you.

A wonderful team by my side
The only way you survive is by having the best co-workers by your side – each and every day. People you love and respect, people you can trust and depend upon, people who have your back – ALWAYS! That´s how it`s done. This is the only way I know how. The only way that you can keep the motivation going. Every morning, you are excited to go to work, because you can´t wait to see these faces.
This past year brought painful changes. The retrenchments forced us to say goodbye to many dear colleagues. Due to the changed circumstances, others choose to leave on their own account. The SOS Vikings are no more.

It is time for a new generation of Diplomats and Knights
Due to the decentralization process, in July 2016, the time has also come to pass the torch.
My highly respected sponsorship co-workers in the National Associations will from then on take on the task of writing the transfer- and name changes, the child profiles and departure texts. It is time for a new generation of Diplomats and Knights to step forth.

To those who shared the last years with me and had my back, I want to say; thank you. We will always remain deeply connected. You people rocked my world.

To those who will follow in my footsteps, all I want to say is this; if you ever need someone to have your back – be sure to call me!

Alexandra Fuchs

joined SOS Children's Villages International in 2001. She is Donor Services Coordinator in Individual Giving. 

Changes all around and up and down sum up the treasure she discovers in her work. Working with donor communication for well over 15 years, she now awaits new challenges. It all fits well enough with balance, safety and growth as treasures family bear for her. Though friendships ground her and gently force her to grow, she feels herself the pilot, and time as such, is for her not linear (....). From conducting a choir over to coaching young rock bands down to running, Pilates and simply movement, leisure for her turns to living the dream. Coming to Vienna from Sweden at a teen age, she discovers the former transforming over the years to a likeable city with a high living standard.  Then, Vienna waits for her while Sweden holds her heart.