Duma discusses evaluation system for SONGOs
The Federation’s State Duma hosted a roundtable event where experts discussed introducing systems for monitoring the effectiveness of NGOs, why NGOs don’t fully understand what the State expects from them and how the third sector can reduce its costs.
Sergey Gavrilov, Chair of the Duma Committee on the Development of Civil Society and Issues of Public and Religious Associations, said that the Ministry of Justice had registered 95 socially orientated NGOs (SONGOs) but that only 10-15% of them were fully operational.
“The fact that there’s such a large number of SONGOs has aroused interest and curiosity as well as being a source of some bemusement to a number of Duma MPs”, said Gavrilov who has called for a collective effort to develop appropriate criteria for evaluating the performance of NGOs on behalf of State and society.
According to Andrey Golovin, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development Design of Civil Society Institutions, NGOs provided social help to nearly 32 million people in 2016, with around 6 million receiving charitable assistance in kind.
Less than 1.5% of NGOs received State financial support during 2016, with the average sum being around 6 million roubles. According to preliminary estimates, the number of organisations that receive State funding is expected to increase between 1.5 and twofold, although the average support amount will go down, said Golovin.
“The non-profit sector is subsidised by its very definition. It is therefore important that Government knows how its resources are being used and the criteria by which such funding is allocated”, he said. By the same token, NGOs are also entitled to have an open, transparent and fair State budget allocation system, he added. According to Golovin, the problem is that NGOs don’t really understand what the State expects of them, making them unsure of their role in Government social policies.
In Golovin’s view, NGOs cannot really be subject to the same demands as commercial organisations. “It is a question of developing specific criteria that determine how they operate, their reporting requirements and oversight”, he said and suggested the creation of a single automated NGO information system, as well as the development of a form of electronic registration for the legal addresses of these organisations. According to Golovin, current estimates for total annual costs incurred by NGOs in compiling all sorts of reports come to around 372 million roubles. An electronic system would enable the third sector to make annual savings on reporting.