Russian CSOs had increased workloads and less mental energy in 2022

CSO employees have had increased workloads and less mental energy in 2022




This was revealed in the results of a CSO Pulse survey carried out in December involving 227 CSOs from 54 Russian regions.


Some CSO funding has fallen while for others it has increased


38% of CSOs received less funding this year, with donations from commercial companies having fallen for 61% of organisations. Donations from private individuals have decreased for 53% of CSOs, while 46% did not receive any State grants or subsidies.


By contrast, 31% of CSOs had an increase in funding, with 52% receiving State grants or subsidies. Other sources of funding growth were quoted less often: increased income from the sale of goods and services (36%), increased revenue and grants from other CSOs (36%) and increased donations from private individuals (34%).


More work, less mental energy


75% of CSOs have seen increases in their workload, while 59% have had more charity beneficiaries. During 2022, 22% of CSOs started working with refugees and 21% with families of servicemen and conscripts.


Increases in the volume of work were experienced by 84% of CSOs that offer social services and health care, particularly those that work with migrants, refugees and homeless people. It was a similar story for 82% of CSOs that provide support for children. At the same time, 63% of CSOs where workloads have risen did not see any upturn in funding.


The mental wellbeing of staff fell in 50% of organisations which highlights a potentially disturbing situation of complete professional burnout among CSO staff. Organisations that have well-established management practices are better able to cope with greatly increased workloads, which only applied to 22% of CSO respondents. The results show that as well as the need to prevent burnout it is important to continue working on improving organisational capability and resilience in CSOs and to invest in their development.


Large CSOs have more staff


27% of CSOs have gained more staff while 34% have more volunteers. There have been staff increases in 48% of large CSOs that devote major funding to helping specific groups of beneficiaries.


CSOs involved in the development of charity and volunteering and work in local communities (28%) saw a reduction in staff numbers. Environmental and human rights CSOs (37%) have experienced a fall in the number of volunteers.

It has become increasingly difficult to work with the State


This applies both to the introduction of new bureaucratic procedures that interfere with the work of CSOs, and to the difficulty in building trusting partnerships. Some CSOs said they feared being declared foreign agents.


CSOs working in social services, health care and education highlighted a lack of engagement with the international expert community. It is important that CSOs are able to study and adopt global practices, as well as building relationships with foreign experts and academics.


Anti-crisis measures


CSO anti-crisis measures are mainly aimed at developing and expanding operations, rather than downsizing or cutting down on the number of activities. 45% of respondents have launched new initiatives, 43% are seeking new sources of funding and 41% extending their work to other fora.


Nearly one in three CSOs have reviewed their strategies (38%) and organised self-help groups and other support activities for their staff (30%).


More often than not, CSOs plan their work over a one to two year cycle (28%) or over 7-12 months (22%). Nearly one in five CSOs operate over a two to five year period (17%). Only 8% of organisations plan their work over more than five years.


More details about the survey can be found on the Pulse CSO website ( The report has been prepared by the Centre for the Assessment of Public Initiatives at the National Research University’s Higher School of Economics with specialist support from the Help is Needed charity.




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