Introducing Integral’s New Marketing Group Chair

Introducing Veronika Macsai, Project Manager at Integra Slovakia who is the new Integral Marketing Group (IMG) Chair. The IMG is made up of the Directors of Fundraising /Marketing / Communications from our 20 Members. The IMG share learning and best practice, as well oversee the communication aspect of our joint work in disasters …

How long have you been in your current role?  
Since January 2023.

What did you do before? 
Since 2019 I have worked with Integra in different positions – communications specialist, project specialist, marketing manager, brand manager. Originally, I was focused on Integra’s development projects in Kenya and Ethiopia, and became involved in humanitarian work in 2022.

What would you say is the main benefit to you of being part of the Integral Marketing Group (IMG)?  
In times of a disaster or crisis there is truly seamless collaboration among IMG members. This enables us to react fast and reduces the burden on our relatively small marketing team. But it’s not only about being more efficient. There’s also an important long-term benefit of being part of this group –  the continuous learning, including professional and personal development, which is nurtured by IMG’s unique atmosphere of mutual respect, openness, humility, gratitude, and sharing. I find it especially enriching when we share best practices, lessons as well as failures, and explore the local contexts from the point of view of various Christian agencies.

What would you say is the main added value of your organisation being part of Integral?
Integral Alliance is crucial for Integra’s disaster response communications and fundraising. In 2022, Integral Members supported Integra’s Ukraine response with more than 80% of our funding, and helped in many other aspects of our humanitarian work, including compliance, capacity building and localisation, all through the mutual collaboration coordinated by the Integral Secretariat. In addition, Integral’s tool for DR collaboration and sharing of communications resources allow us to respond as a non-operational Member promptly and effectively to disasters all over the world. Integra can help to provide humanitarian relief even in places that are neglected by other stakeholders – for example, in 2022, we were the only Slovak NGO to respond to the Yemen crisis because of our alliance membership..

Is there a particular ‘Integral’ memory that stands out for you?      
My first face-to-face IMG meeting: After sharing Integra’s experience with the Ukraine crisis response, I was very touched by all the comments, questions and emotional reactions it has provoked. The very warm welcome and mutual support within the group came as a surprise to me. I’m very thankful and will always remember it.

Tell us one thing about yourself we may not know!
Before joining Integra, my husband and I took a slightly insane decision to renew an old vineyard, formerly managed by a priest. We both had comfortable office jobs, and no winemaking or viticulture experience. With the help of our entire family, an experienced teacher, and a lot of patience and persistence, we were successful in restoring a complex ecosystem of two hectares of abandoned land, and producing delicious wine. The psycho-hygiene aspect of spending most of our days outside in nature compensated for the hard manual work. Although, eventually, I realised that I want to pursue my career differently, it was a great blessing and a practical lesson of what it means to be a steward of God’s creation.

What is your vision for Integral going forward?   
A wonderful example of Integral’s strength was demonstrated through the work of the Dignity Group, especially the publication of the Integral Ethical Storyteller’s Guide. I am looking forward to further unleashing the potential of this useful tool, with a revised version of the Guide and a new series of micro-learning videos planned for 2024. And, I also expect that the joint Neglected Crises campaign will enable us to raise more awareness, and support Integral Members’ fundraising efforts for assistance to people in forgotten and hard-to-reach places.

In the current world of ‘permacrisis’ (which includes the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, the Middle East emergency, climate crisis and global hunger), I also see an increasing threat in the rise of propaganda, misinformation and 5th generation warfare. The result of this is polarisation of public opinion, a breach of relations and distrust. But even though the world is increasingly hostile and fragmented, and despite the fact that Integral Members face context-specific challenges, all Integral Members are deeply rooted in Christian values. We understand that crises and human suffering are not the end of the story. Thanks to this gift of radical hope Integral can play an irreplaceable role in connecting “islands of integrity” in different countries. Together, we can continue to have a strong collective impact, and speak with one united voice of Christian compassion and love for humanity.