Conerns over funds for privileged NGOs
Access to funding for NGOs: expert concerns and expectations
Experts have stated that it is currently impossible to determine whether tasks set by the president aimed at developing the non-profit sector will be successfully completed.
In his letter to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin raised the issue of granting proven NGOs privileges and preferences. He announced the launch of a special programme of presidential grants to support NGOs working in small towns and villages, and the channelling of up to 10% of resources for regional and municipal social programmes into support for NGOs rendering social services.
The tasks set by the president will not be easy, believes the Higher School of Economics’ director of social research Lilia Ovcharova. Ensuring access to funding for NGOs primarily requires the revision of rates for social services provided within the public sector, she says, emphasising that the existing situation is unappealing for NGOs.
“Certainly, we have to accept that non-profit organisations provide better quality services. But the caveat is that these services are more expensive”, says Ovcharova. Today the market does not command the resources which would enable bargaining with NGOs to provide higher quality services at lower prices.
Furthermore, today there is no coherent means of identifying those NGOs which would qualify for the president’s proposed privileges, says Ovcharova. The effectiveness of the president’s suggestion directly depends on the tool created to select these organisations. “The range of possible solutions to this problem is wide: from complete distortion, which will not lead to an increase in the number of clients receiving social services, to genuinely establishing a welfare system”, she believes.
Civic Chamber member Elena Topoleva considers that those organisations providing services and support not offered by the state which have already proven themselves and demonstrated their effectiveness, above all need institutional support so they are not dependent on grants and subsidies. “As reliable, robust and proven organisations, they should receive annual institutional support. For them it is more important than, for example, tax incentives”, she says. Topoleva has proposed the establishment of a mechanism to provide non-competitive support to organisations demonstrating their professionalism and efficiency.
Secretary of the Civic Chamber Aleksandr Brechalov suggested including the president’s proposed quota for NGOs (10% of resources of regional and municipal social programmes for the provision of social services) in the federal law ‘On the framework for social services for citizens of the Russian Federation’, reports Izvestia.
According to Brechalov, NGOs providing social services could be selected using a list of specific areas of activity. Quantitative and qualitative indicators of the organisation’s work could form a further criterion. Brechalov emphasised that selection will take into account the NGO’s experience (it is expected that organisations will have spent at least a year providing social services) and human resources. He noted that besides these criteria there is currently no consensus on how to identify ‘providers of socially useful services’.
Brechalov told the newspaper that a ‘comprehensive mechanism’ will be proposed within two months.
Author: Georgii Ivanushkin