One of the features of the last issue of “International Dateline”, a quarterly review of news, interviews with notable international grantmakers, as well as information for international grantmakers, published by the Council on Foundations (COF), was “Expanding the Local: Community Foundations Look Outside the U.S.”
Created through a generous seed grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies and named after the Institute’s founding director, the Joel L. Fleishman, Civil Society Fellows Program provides a selected group of leaders from non-profit organisations, international NGOs, foundations and other civil society groups with the opportunity to spend a four-week residential sabbatical at Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy.
April 2004, Umanotera - Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development (
Do the percentage laws adopted in Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Poland and mostly recently Romania promote genuine philanthropy? What opportunities and threats do such laws, which allow individuals to allocate a portion of their previous year's paid personal income tax to an eligible NGO of their choice, present? These and many other questions were debated by 160 participants from over 20 countries at the Percentage Philanthropy Conference on January 19-20, 2004 organised by the Nonprofit Information and Training Centre (NIOK) in Budapest. Many at the conference agreed percentage laws offer exciting new possibilities to the NGO sector in this region. A much-debated question is to what extent such laws can promote a transition to private philanthropy. What is clear is that percentage laws need to be part of a bigger toolbox of income-generating measures for NGOs, and their introduction should not be in exchange for existing incentives to stimulate giving or reductions in state support.
With barely a few weeks left before the European Union (EU) expands to cover another ten countries of the continent, the eyes of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should be fixed less on Brussels, and more on their own backyard. The opportunities EU membership provides for the development of local communities can only truly come about if the relationship between NGOs and the local and national authorities is well structured. Only where NGOs can participate in the planning and implementation of EU policies and programmes will we find that one of the basic rules of the game - a partnership between NGOs and state authorities - is bearing fruit. This places demands on both government and NGOs.
NGOs and the state in Bulgaria have often had a difficult, even strained, relationship with each other. In the beginning of the 1990s, NGOs (especially foundations) had a very liberal financial regime which gave rise to the problem of abuse of the existing benefits - at that time foundations were big importers of cigarettes, alcohol, etc. After this scandal all tax and customs benefits for foundations were abolished. Since then, foundations have had a negative image in society. It took more than 10 years to improve the public perception of foundations.
Despite the fact that since 1990 NGOs have actively sought to improve cooperation with the public administration, formal agreements on such cooperation still do not exist in the Czech Republic. During the election campaign in 2002, representatives of several political parties at a special meeting with NGOs issued a document, known as the Brandys Declaration, whereby the two sides indicated a willingness to negotiate a formal cooperation agreement if the parties concerned were to form the next government. Not much has happened since that time in this respect.
The forms of cooperation between government and NGOs in Hungary include a wide range of tools and mechanisms, both at the national and local levels. At first sight these may even seem enviable.
With the launch of the Council on Public Benefit Activities, Poland has entered a new era of government-civil society partnership. The Council was created by the Law on Public Benefit Activities and Volunteerism ("Public Benefit Law") signed by the President on April 24, 2003 after several months of parliamentary discussion and almost seven years of work since the first draft was prepared. It is the first law that seeks to define the role and position of the Third Sector in the social policy of the Polish state. The Law:
Impact of the Accession Process