Network-based organisation

Organising the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence was the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Prime Minister’s Office is responsible for organising national anniversaries. The heart of the official organisation consisted of the Finland 100 Secretariat, the Finland 100 Board, and the Finland 100 Commission, as well as the nationwide network of regional coordinators. The entire network of contributors was considerably more extensive.

The Finland 100 Secretariat was set up by the Prime Minister’s Office for the years 2013–2018, and it had three main duties: coordinating and managing the Finland 100 project, designing and overseeing the implementation of the programme for the celebrations, and communications. The Secretariat was chaired by  Pekka Timonen, Secretary-General of Finland 100.

The Secretariat was responsible for coming up with the concept, operating model, and methodology for the centenary celebrations under the supervision of the Finland 100 Board and Commission. In practice, the Secretariat’s work consisted of building and maintaining the extremely extensive network of project partners and continuously developing and looking for new forms of cooperation.

Despite its modest size, the Finland 100 Secretariat was an important coordinator of customer service, cooperation with partners, and practical work relating to the centenary celebrations. Its work was both systematic and reactive and often extremely hectic. The Secretariat became known as the go-to organ for information relating to the celebrations and a hive of activity, and brainstorming sessions and meetings held in the Secretariat’s offices on Kirkkokatu in Helsinki were attended by several thousands of members of the Finland 100 network.

Photo: Kalle Kataila

Course set by the Finland 100 Board and Commission

The Finland 100 Board oversaw the Secretariat’s work. The Board convened at regular intervals, and it consisted of a chairperson and 11 members representing different spheres of society. The Board was chaired between 15 November 2013 and 29 June 2015 by State Secretary to the Prime Minister Olli-Pekka Heinonen, and between 1 July 2015 and 31 January 2018 by State Secretary Paula Lehtomäki. The Finland 100 Board took care of the implementation and coordination of the project plan in accordance with the chosen strategy. The Board also expressed its opinion on state aid proposals for projects. The Board convened a total of 48 times between 2013 and 2018.

According to the agreed division of responsibilities, the Finland 100 Commission decided on the project’s guiding principles based on the Board’s proposals. The Commission consisted of representatives from 70 of Finland’s key organisations, and it convened a total of six times during its term of office. The Commission was chaired by Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen (14 August 2013 – 24 June 2014), Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (24 June 2014 – 29 May 2015), and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (29 May 2015 – 31 January 2018), with the Minister of Finance acting as the deputy chair and the Finland 100 Secretary-General as the secretary.

Inspiration and contacts through regional Finland 100 coordinators 

In order to take the centenary celebrations to all parts of the country, the Prime Minister’s Office set up a regional Finland 100 network that ended up playing a hugely important role. Regional planning began in September 2015, and the regional Finland 100 network began its work in the spring of 2016.

The regional coordinators provided advice and inspiration and encouraged local organisations to get involved in building the Finland 100 programme. They were responsible for the visibility of the Finland 100 project, resources, and cooperation with regional media.

The regional network also played an important role in putting nationwide Finland 100 concepts into practice on a regional level and creating moments that united the whole country. 

Photo: Suomi 100

Governmental coordination by a ministerial committee

Liaison officers and Finland 100 coordinators from various government agencies convened regularly through a ministerial Finland 100 committee. The ministerial committee consisted of representatives of all ministries, the Office of the Chancellor of Justice, the Parliament of Finland, the Office of the President of the Republic of Finland, and the Prime Minister’s Office.

The ministerial committee was responsible for disseminating information about Finland 100 projects relevant to each government department and for planning cooperation. The committee also played an important role in creating a shared centenary experience for the central government and in coordinating communications.

International Finland 100 events were coordinated by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Finnish missions around the world. Events relating to the Finland 100 programme were held in more than one hundred countries on all six continents. In addition to the official organisation, celebrations for the centenary of Finland’s independence were promoted by local branches of the Finland Society in many countries.

The strengths of networking 

The together theme made a network-based approach to the Finland 100 project a natural choice. The scale of the project and the goals set for the celebrations also supported the choice. The scarcity of resources, considering the amount of work to be done, made a network-based approach even more important.

Instead of a ready-made programme or campaign and top-down project management, a decision was made to share the responsibility with the entire nation. The centenary of Finland’s independence would be celebrated exactly as the nation wanted. The Finland 100 project team took it upon itself to create a framework and a platform for the collaborative effort. Against a backdrop of traditional public-sector initiatives and anniversary celebrations, this was an unusual choice. The approach also came with a conscious risk: no-one knew how this major milestone in Finland’s history would ultimately be celebrated. 

With the choice made, it was important to get the whole nation behind the project from the start. The Finland 100 Secretariat and Board put in a lot of legwork to test the waters around the country. The results of the tour were promising. The Finns, a nation built on democracy and a tradition of volunteer organisations and helping one’s fellow man, were ready to accept the challenge. A large number of representatives from regional councils, non-governmental organisations, local authorities, the central government, the media, and the business sector joined the Finland 100 network. Various influential members of society also expressed interest in the project and agreed to contribute to the celebrations. The rest of the nation got an opportunity to get involved when the public call for projects was launched in the spring of 2015. 

The network-based approach required efficient communications. The importance of frequent, consistent, and interactive communications was recognised from the start, and communications became the project’s second cornerstone alongside the programme.

Business partnership programme

In view of the together theme, the Finland 100 project team also wanted to involve the business sector in the celebrations. A separate programme for commercial partners was therefore launched alongside the public call for projects. This was the first time in the history of Finland’s national anniversary celebrations that a strategy and an operating model were devised specifically to involve businesses. Partnership with the Finland 100 project gave businesses an opportunity to promote well-being in society and honour the together theme.

The Finland 100 partnership programme for businesses consisted of two elements: a partnership programme for large corporations in 2016 and a programme tailored to small businesses at the beginning of 2017. The Finland 100 programme also included numerous projects run by businesses, in addition to which many businesses sponsored other project coordinators’ events as partners. 

The first Finland 100 partnership programme for businesses was targeted at large corporations, and it was launched at the beginning of 2016. This involved businesses and the Finland 100 project team at the Prime Minister’s Office agreeing on each business’s contribution to the centenary celebrations through events and sponsorships, as well as potentially through products and services.

A second programme, targeted at small businesses, was run at the beginning of 2017. The programme was called 100 Great Things from Finland, and it aimed to find 100 products or services developed by small businesses to honour the centenary of Finland’s independence. The programme was run in cooperation with the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, the Finland Chamber of Commerce, the Association for Finnish Work, and the Confederation of Finnish Industries.

What all the participating businesses and their Finland 100 products and services had in common was a background, a story, or a link to a social phenomenon that qualified them for inclusion in the anniversary programme. The participating businesses could use the Finland 100 logo for specific products and services, communications, and marketing.

Business partnerships became an important part of the nationwide centenary programme, and businesses made a big contribution to the visibility of the celebrations as a whole. A liaison officer for business partners was hired for the Finland 100 Secretariat for the years 2016–2017. 

Shared together

Hiiop! 274 years of good deeds in honour of Finland’s 100 years of independence

One in three Finns volunteers for charity and one in two would do so if asked. OP Financial Group decided to honour Finland’s big anniversary by running a volunteering campaign with multiple partners. The campaign produced a total of 274 years’ worth of voluntary work.

Hampered by hectic lifestyles and fear of commitment

Many people would like to help but do not seem to be able to find the time. Some cannot find a suitable cause. Others are unable to commit. A survey of the nation’s attitudes towards volunteering conducted by OP Financial Group revealed that most people want to help and do something for the common good, but the aforementioned kinds of concerns get in the way. OP Financial Group wanted to honour the centenary of Finland’s independence by doing something good together with its staff, shareholders, and partners. Volunteering seemed like a good way to do this, as the threshold for getting involved is low and there is strength in numbers. The goal was to challenge Finns to work together for the good of their local communities and to enable ideas to be implemented flexibly with the help of a digital platform. – an online volunteer agency

The aim of the campaign was to produce 100 years’ worth of voluntary work. The idea came from OP Financial Group’s staff, and each of the company’s 12,000 employees was encouraged to volunteer for a day during working hours. These hours would amount to half of the target. In order to make up the other 50 years’ worth of volunteer work, OP Financial Group went in search of a partner to help set up a new, public online volunteer agency called The website is designed to match volunteers to jobs that need doing. In practice, anyone can use the website to look for volunteers or for a suitable job for themselves.

274 years of volunteering together

The voluntary work completed during 2017 amounted to a total of 274 years. More than 3,000 jobs for volunteers in different parts of Finland were posted on the website.

One of the most popular charitable causes was helping families in need. For example, thousands of people helped an association called Hope to collect and sort donations, and a total of 1,500 schoolchildren were given a new bag in July. Other charitable initiatives during the year included teaching young people household skills, preventing social exclusion, collecting funds on World Food Day, Red Nose Day, and Thirst Day, and cleaning national parks and beaches. Volunteers also kept lonely elderly people company and visited senior citizens’ service centres, helped with household chores, and organised seniors’ dances, celebrations of gratitude for older generations, 60+ parties, and feel-good lunches. A total of 100 elderly people were taken on car journeys in November. Thousands of Finns knitted to help premature babies, children, and veterans.