Martti Muukkonen, TD, MSS, researcher, University of Joensuu

Organisational Models for Youth Organisations - A Lesson from the YMCA History

Organisational models are resources that facilitate the work of an organisation. Some organisations in any organisational field are more central than others and others are looking them as models for their work and organisational practices. In different eras, different organisations occupy these central positions. In the case of youth organisations, much of organisational resources have been developed in the Young Menís Christian Association from where they have been diffused to other youth organisations and to institutions of society. All organisations reflect to some degree the problems of their founding dates or critical periods of their history. Organisational solutions to these problems are not only practical answers but ideological statements as well. Later, when diffused, the solution becomes legitimised and taken-for-granted model. Therefore it is important to understand in what kinds of situations different organisational practices have occurred and what kinds of ideological impact the solution carries. This paper focuses on the early development of the organisation models and practices of the World Alliance of Young Menís Christian Associations. The YMCA is one of the largest (45 million members) and oldest (150 years) contemporary youth organisations and a source of many organisational practices. It emerged as a network of local Bible clubs. Soon it expanded and created an effective international organisation and profound youth work. This development will be reflected from a multi-dimensional perspective, which focuses how the organisations ideology was used to meet the new challenges during its first hundred years.