In his 2015-2016 annual message to the Federal Assembly, President Putin noted the importance of supporting non-profit organisations wanting to act as partners to the state, and indicated the need to establish the legal status of NGOs providing socially beneficial services.
In 2016 a range of federal laws were adopted with the aim of establishing this status and the legal basis for providing these organisations with state support.
In a presidential decree, Vladimir Putin declared the provision of socially beneficial services to be a priority area of activity. The government approved the list of socially beneficial services, criteria for evaluating the quality of services being provided and the procedure for recognising organisations providing socially beneficial services.
I OVERVIEW OF THE STATUS
The following legal acts apply in relation to the recognition of NGOs as providers of socially beneficial services:
1) Federal law of 12 January 1996 no. 7–F3 ‘On non-profit organisations’;
2) Presidential decree of 8 August 2016 no. 398 ‘On the approval of priority directions of activity in the provision of socially beneficial activities’;
3) Government decree of 27 October 2016 no. 1096 ‘On approval of the list of socially beneficial services and criteria for assessing their quality’;
4) Government decree of 26 January 2017 no. 89 ‘On the registration of non-profit organisations as providers of socially beneficial services’.
To be recognised as a provider of socially beneficial services, an organisation must have been providing a socially beneficial service of suitable quality for at least a year; not be designated a foreign agent; and have no debts.
The list of socially beneficial services is extensive. It includes:
– at-home social services;
– employment assistance;
– rehabilitation and social adaptation of adults and children with disabilities;
– social assistance for children, the disabled, senior citizens and those in difficult circumstances;
– prevention of neglect and juvenile delinquency;
– prevention of child abandonment or parents refusing to educate their children;
– socialisation and creation of familial structures for children without parental care;
– supplementary education for senior citizens and those with disabilities, including computer literacy;
– prevention of socially destructive illnesses, smoking, alcoholism and addiction;
– medical and social support of those struggling with serious illness and people requiring palliative care;
– medical and social rehabilitation of people with alcoholism, drug addiction and other dependencies;
– sports and fitness.
For NGOs to obtain service provider status, they should receive a conclusion from the federal executive body that the quality of services conforms with the established criteria, and then apply to the Ministry of Justice for recognition. Organisations recognised by the Ministry of Justice as providers of socially beneficial services and included in the register of NGOs will hold the status for two years.
NGOs recognised as providing socially beneficial services and included in the register have priority access to support measures established by federal law and other regulatory acts at national, federal and municipal level. This support will last two years.It will also be possible to obtain budgetary funds. Furthermore, organisations may bid for:
1) possession or use of state or municipal property;
2) free airtime on state or municipal television or radio channels, free print space in publications, and publication of materials online;
3) state-organised training courses for staff and volunteers.
II CONCLUSION ON THE CONFORMITY OF SERVICES TO THE ESTABLISHED CRITERIA
To obtain this status an organisation should demonstrate that the services it provides correspond to the criteria established by the Government Decree of 27 October 2016 no. 1096.
To do this, an organisation should request an assessment from the relevant federal executive body. The list of these bodies was approved by the Government on 26 January 2017. Depending on the services provided, an opinion may be issued by the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Culture, the consumer protection body, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, the tourism body, or the Ministry of Sport.
Before applying to the national body, an organisation may apply at regional level for documents proving its compliance with the established criteria. If the assessment involves multiple bodies, it is sufficient to apply to one, which will request information from the others.
The written application may be accompanied by references and expert opinions asserting compliance with the criteria, and documents confirming the absence of outstanding taxes.
Criteria for evaluating the quality of services include:
1. Conformity with the requirements of the Russian Federation (scope, timing, quality).
2. Involvement of sufficient numbers of qualified employees in the provision of services.
3. Satisfaction of recipients and absence of complaints about services for two years.
4. Accessibility of information on the NGO.
5. Absence of the NGO from a register of unscrupulous suppliers for two years prior to applying for this status.
Failure to meet these requirements may result in an organisation being denied the status. A conclusion should be reached within 30 days. This can be extended in cases where other bodies must be consulted, but no longer than 60 days.
III APPLICATION TO THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE FOR THE STATUS OF PERFORMER OF SOCIALLY BENEFICIAL SERVICES
The decision on recognition of an NGO is taken by the Ministry of Justice. An application can be made directly to the Ministry or to one of its regional bodies. If the application is submitted directly to the Ministry of Justice, then the decision on recognition of an organisation will be taken within five days of receipt of documents. If submitted to a regional branch of the Ministry of Justice, then in the absence of grounds for refusal being identified within five working days, the application will be transferred to the Ministry of Justice for a decision on recognition. If grounds for refusal are identified, documents will be returned to the organisation indicating the grounds for the decision.
After the expiry of the initial two year recognition period, an organisation has 30 days to submit a request to the Ministry of Justice for recognition to continue. It is not required to submit a conclusion on conformity to the quality evaluation criteria.
All questions should be emailed to email@example.com
. The experience of the first regional NGOs receiving the status will be monitored by correspondents from the Agency for Social Information.
The Ministry of Justice application form can be downloaded here.