Public Chamber discusses NGO self-regulation
Suggestions on how to differentiate between bona fide NGOs and the standards required from them in their work must be submitted to Government by the end of February.
The issue of self-regulation and organisation within the NGO sector has again come to the fore with the entry of NGOs into the social services market, says Elena Topoleva, Director of the Agency of Social Information and a member of the Federation’s Public Chamber. “A lot of issues are coming to light regarding the quality of services provided by NGOs entering the social market. Consumers and Government agencies need to be sure that NGOs will provide real high quality services and take responsibility for so doing”, Topoleva added.
But then again, it’s only by the collective efforts of new players entering the social services market that progress can be made on this issue. “Some have already tried their hand at self-regulation liaising closely with Government and encountered various obstacles in the process. Working in isolation makes it much harder for such barriers to be removed”, said Topoleva.
The issue of self-regulation and organisation of NGOs has also cropped up in relation to the growth of the charity sector on the one hand to the emergence of unscrupulous organisations on the other. “We’re all too well aware of fake donors and scams that are being practised such as bogus volunteers who collect money from people at Metro stations, ostensibly for charity”, Topoleva added. Donors must come together to develop the necessary standards and rules to which all bona fide organisations should adhere.
Self-regulation and organisation have also been mentioned in a number of formal documents, in particular the “Supporting NGO access to the provision of social services road map”, said Herman Vetrov, Deputy Director of Strategic Development and Innovation at the Ministry of Economic Development. Vetrov added that proposals for the development of practices for self-regulation of socially orientated NGOs (SONGOs) needed to be submitted to Government by the end of February.
Vetrov reiterated that the Government Order approving the list of socially useful services provided by officially recognised NGOs in this area also contains a set of criteria for assessing service quality. How to evaluate such services is a very big question, he said, suggesting that self-regulation and the development of appropriate criteria and standards could be ways of addressing this issue.
The law on NGOs as “executors of socially useful services” came into force on 1 January 2017. Under this legislation, “a provider of socially useful services” is a socially orientated NGO (SONGO) which has provided good quality services for one year or more, is not classified as a “foreign agent” and has no tax or fee arrears, or any other arrears in payments required under Russian law.