Reflections on 2019; onwards and upwards

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What a year! As we were putting together the December version of our Impact Report, we reflect on a big year for the World Merit community.

We have re-connected with many long-term friends and colleagues within the World Merit family. We created beautiful partnerships with likeminded people, organisations, governments, businesses and institutions. We met people who left an ever-lasting impression, who have inspired us to do so much more than what we are already doing.

We reflected and went back to where it all began: We created a touching video of our Manifesto, written by our founder Chris Arnold when World Merit was born.

We stripped down, all in order to see the nakedness, the vulnerability, our mistakes, the cross-roads, the challenges. The teething aches and growing pains. We embraced where we are and celebrated how far we’ve come. We took a deep breath and started to put the foundation back together.

We revisited our vision: We are here to unleash the upcoming generation to create waves of change. We critically looked at our WHY, followed by our HOW.

We’ve put into words what we believe is the ‘Journey of Merit’:
It is what makes World Merit unique; we create leaders by inspiring and engaging motivated young people through our HOW: Councils, events and opportunities. WHY? Our community goes through a personal transformation while making a significant impact to their communities and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, resulting in the development of open-minded and action-oriented global citizens.

Our EPIC values took central stage in our new office, in the middle of a beautiful park, contributing to the well-being of our team. We committed to our PRIMER Principles where some of our long-standing promises to the community are now formulated and publicised. We are mostly proud of our 1% Pledge where 1% of all the money we raise as a charity will go directly into a fund to support our Councils. More on the EPIC values and PRIMER principles can be found on the ‘About us’ page on our website

We started to plan for 2020 and beyond. Invited external support into a team-retreat to bring the expertise and experience needed for us to put together a wholesome and sustainable plan. We welcomed new Trustees on Board, all with a diverse background, adding value ranging from fundraising to understanding the educational sector, activism or governance.

We launched our Merit First Program, following the successful pilot undertaken by Kings School in Macclesfield, UK. Further in this Report, you will be able to find out more about their impact which demonstrates the potential of this program and how we are planning to ‘unleashing the upcoming generation’ by empowering secondary school children. 

Merit first board

We discussed all possible fundraising avenues and decided what our short-, middle- and long-term strategies are going to be. We are re-launching our Founding Families campaign, a crowd funder for growth, hosted a Winter Ball Fundraising night as well as several other fundraising events. We came up with revenue-generating programs like our schools program, revised our Summit-model and entered very promising conversations with different stakeholders around securing some corporate funding as well as accessing funds through bids and grants.

An exciting partnership with LJMU resulted in a promising report on the relation between behavioural change and well-being. In order to combat Climate Change and tackle the Sustainable Development Goals, we need everyone to be willing to make changes to their daily lives. A sense of well-being is important to achieve this and is established by e.g. finding a purpose, feeling confident, having a sense of fulfilment and an increased level of resilience. This is what the World Merit Journey offers and we are excited to continue to work with LJMU to make this case.

We are seeing a trend in countries like New Zealand, Iceland and Scotland who are measuring success by people’s well-being rather than GDP. Can we demonstrate that investing in World Merit, is directly investing in supporting people to develop soft skills like leadership, communication and resilience, all the while contributing to their sense of well-being by providing them with a sense of purpose and connecting them to a global network of peers. Imagine the return on your investment, if we can lift not only people’s sense of well-being but with that, increase their civil participation and volunteerism.

Personally, it was a big year for me too. After having been on Maternity leave, I returned back to work in April with renewed energy and a stronger than ever sense of commitment to our vision. As I tried to find my feet in a world I had left behind nine months before, as well as trying to juggle the busy mornings, drop-offs and life with a baby, I found something profound: balance.

My passion for World Merit, to create a better world for all by empowering young people around the planet to show up fully had completely integrated with my purpose at home; being the best mum I can possibly be for my daughter by fighting for a more sustainable, equal and peaceful world.

People holding garden hoes

I deeply believe there is no better way to do this than by investing in young people by inspiring and connecting them so that they can live up to their full potential.

2019 was a big year in terms of reflection, refocus and restructure.
2020 is about resilience, sustainability and support.

Building a resilient and sustainable community and global World Merit, offering more support to our councils and leveraging the verbal words of encouragement of those around us into actual support to become truly sustainable.

Inevitably, we still need to raise significant funds to ensure our plans come to fruition so with that I would like to end it here with a request to get on board: Please consider donating to our crowd funder, becoming a Friend of World Merit or Founding Family or distribute our campaign for growth within your networks.

I am deeply grateful for our team, here in Liverpool as well as our extended team and our Councils, who have shown a level of commitment, loyalty and passion for what we do that I have never seen anywhere else.

Together we will achieve a World of Merit.

Marlou Cornelissen
CEO, World Merit Charity

Marlou Cornelissen CEO, World Merit Charity

Reflections on 2019; onwards and upwards