Trust for Civil Society in Central & Eastern Europe
Memo on Trust Partners Meeting in Banská Bystrica
Trust for Civil Society in Central & Eastern Europe organized a site visit to indigenous Slovak NGOs in the framework of the Trust Partners Meeting held on 30 June - 1 July 2002 in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. The event was attended by representatives of the Trust Partner Organisations from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Trust grantees from Slovenia, as well as guests from international donor bodies that are already involved or plan to start operating in Central and Eastern Europe. The highlight of meeting was the round-table discussion on challenges of the Slovak non-profit sector with participants from NGO community all over Slovakia.
The site visits at three local NGOs included the Healthy City Community Foundation of Banská Bystrica & Zvolen - the first community foundation in continental Europe - and one that managed to build the third largest endowment in Slovakia. Civic Association Hope for Children works with Roma children from socially disadvantaged families. Mission of the Center for Environmental Public Advocacy (CEPA) is to create and enforce effective instruments leading towards strengthening citizens's participation in decision-making on issues of public interest; sustainable development; protection of human rights; and environmental justice. The first day of the Trust Partners Meeting also brought a welcome opportunity of building personal contacts and exchanging information in an informal atmosphere of a barbecue at a cottage nearby Banská Bystrica.
The round-table discussion on Challenges of the Slovak NGO Sector started with presentation on political, social and economic situation in Slovakia by Grigorij Meseznikov (Institute for Public Affairs) and presentation on sustainability of Slovak non-profit sector by Boris Strecanský (ETP Slovakia), who said that the NGO sector is develop to a high degree in Slovakia and part of that development is not sustainable in a long term perspective. Therefore, the role for the Trust is to award grants to key NGOs and improve overall conditions for the functioning of the NGO sector in Slovakia (change of macro-environment) and strengthening of those NGOs, which will form the future back-bone of this sector (micro-environment). Subsequently, strategies of the two Trust Partner consortia in Slovakia were presented by Zuzana Konrádová (Open Society Foundation) and Peter Medved (Ekopolis Foundation). The structure of grant-making and operational programs of the OSF consortium is focused on three areas: Environment, Capacity Building and Financial Sustainability. The Ekopolis Foundation uses the Trust funding fully for re-granting in the areas of institutional capacity and legal, fiscal and political context of NGO sector.
The discussion that followed the presentations revolved around crucial issues for NGO sector, such as sustainability, democracy and institutional development. After a decade of quantity growth of NGOs, international donors in Central and Eastern Europe need to focus on quality now. Martin Bútora, Slovak Ambassador to the US and Trust Board member, emphasized the importance of communication, co-ordination, co-operation, consensus building and coalition seeking in NGO sector for development of general political culture.
The Trust for Civil Society in Central & Eastern Europe was formed by a consortium of private grant-makers to support the development and long-term stabilization of civil society and non-governmental organisations in 7 countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). Its founders include Atlantic Philanthropies, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ford Foundation, German Marshall Fund of the US, Open Society Institute, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Trust has as its goal a fund of $75 million to be spent over a ten-years period.
Matú� Minárik is Program Associate at the Trust for Civil Society in Central & Eastern Europe.