Support for Russian SO CSOs – annual results
Subsidies, market access, ratings – topics discussed at the last session of the year of the Federation Council’s Presidential Council for Cooperation with civil society organisations
The last session of the Council in 2021 was held on 14 December, and was devoted to support for socially oriented (SO) CSOs from state authorities in Russia’s regions.
What kind of support did CSOs get?
Elena Ivanitskaya, Deputy Director of the Russian Economics Ministry’s Department for Development of the Social Sphere and the Not-for-profit Sector and a member of the Council, reminded everyone that 15 December was the deadline for applications for state subsidies of one minimum wage per member of staff. Only 11,000 CSOs had requested the subsidy, out of 42,000 that were eligible. She said she had heard in discussion with CSOs that they did not feel they were suffering at this point as they had transferred their work on-line.
Ivanitskaya said that the state had increased its financial, accommodation, information, and consultative support, as well as loans for tax and insurance payments, training and re-training costs for members of CSOs. “Since 2018-2019 financial support for CSOs at federal and regional level has increased – to 35bn roubles in 2019 and 53bn roubles in 2020.” In 2020 83 out of 85 regions the state supported CSOs. Specific programmes in 61 regions received support. But sometimes such programmes were not deemed worthy of support. At regional level 8,500 socially oriented CSOs received almost 58bn roubles. She acknowledged, however, that CSOs would have liked even more support with accommodation. In 2020 only 4,000 out of 128,000 SO CSOs owned their properties. 72 regions provided support with accommodation. In tax support SO CSOs received 18bn roubles over two years from commercial companies, which received tax relief in exchange. There are also information centres for SO CSOs – 185 such centres operate in 56 regions. In 78 regions there is at least one such centre for SO CSOs.
Access to the market in social services
The legal basis already exists that allows CSOs to be fully operational suppliers of social services, explained Inna Svyatenko, Chair of the Committee on Social Policy of the Federation Council, and Deputy Chair of the Council for the Development of Social Innovation for the Regions of the Federation.
Last year (2020) the regions were provided with 40bn roubles for SO CSOs, enabling 50m people to receive social services from them.
Elena Topoleva, Chair of the Public Chamber’s Commission for the Development of the Non-profit Sector and Support for SO CSOs, and Director of the Agency for Social Information (ASI) spoke about the regional ratings for the third sector given by the CSO “Community”. This autumn at a forum of “Community” the second round of assessments was presented. The first were in 2020. The assessments are done by the Public Chamber and the agency RAEKS- Analytics. Topoleva said that comparisons are not the main purpose of the project – they are necessary to provide the means of self-assessment and to encourage development of the sector in all regions of the country. Such assessments allow many things to be examined and compared – for example, where a CSO gets the most donations, which ones lead in tax incentives, in which regions the Public Chambers are most active. Such information makes it easier to target efforts to further develop the CSO sector.
One of the information mechanisms in support of CSOs is the CSO-Profi project managed by the ASI and the Potanin Foundation. It is a cycle of discussions with professionals of the non-profit sector about their careers in civil society. Oksana Oracheva , General Director of the Potanin Foundation, said that the project has shown how important it is to cooperate to make the non-profit sector more successful. She said the project consists of several stages: a competition for journalists who write about CSO representatives (more than 500 applications in three years), interviews, role plays and broadcasts with the professional sector, a documentary spectacle and film show. Oracheva said that CSOs were clearly becoming more professional – the sector was changing, she concluded.