A workshop to discuss funding opportunities for civil society organisations from the state budget, organised by the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law (BCNPL), was held on October 1st 2014. The meeting was attended by representatives of civil society organisations, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice.
During the event a group of organisations, including the BCNPL, the Citizen Participation Forum and others, presented their efforts to develop and adopt ‘Strategies to Support the Development of Civil Society Organisations (2012 – 2015)’, and to take steps towards their fulfilment. The strategies envisage the establishment of a funding mechanism for NGOs from the state budget with clear criteria and transparent allocation of funds and accountability. Unfortunately, after the adoption of the strategies in 2012, no steps have been taken towards their implementation.
The Estonian experience of advocacy for state support of civil society was presented. Maris Yogev of the Estonian Network of NGOs presented the advocacy process, which culminated with the founding of the Foundation for the Support of Civil Society and the establishment of a Management Board comprising representatives from institutions and civil society organisations. Moreover a 4-year National Strategy for the Development of Civil Society was adopted, which includes not only a funding mechanism, but also creates a favorable environment for the development of civil society organisations and a building of their capacity.
Summit participants shared the opinion that despite the adoption of the Strategy to Support the Development of Civil Society Organisations, the problems faced by organisations in Bulgaria remain the same – a lack of synchronisation between the public interest and the strategic objectives of the national and local level, a lack of clear criteria for and transparency in the distribution of public funds to NGOs, limited or no access to financing schemes and a lack of clear results and accountability that could and should emerge from state funding. Another challenge that was touched upon was the public image of NGOs and the need to increase their visibility and their recognition by citizens.
Translator: Morgan James, volounteer