What do civil society organisations do? Which results do they bring?
Projects of the civil society organisations in Macedonia
In Macedonia, similarly to the other countries, citizens expect from public institutions, including civil society organisations, accountability for the entrusted public mandate. They evaluate accountability through the results and transparency.
The publication ”Projects of the civil society organisations in Macedonia” should contribute to it. It offers answers to the questions: how many projects have bee realised, who have the projects been aimed at, where the projects have been located, what instruments have been used, who has carried them out, and certainly, what is the approximate value of the implemented projects.
How many projects have been realised?
658 projects carried out
Is it realistic? Is it an appropriate level of activities? There are about 5,300 organisations registered in Macedonia. MCIC in the Address book of the civil society organisations has data collected for about 1,700 organisations and about half of them are related to sport, recreation and hobby, and the other half (858), civil society organisations. 658 projects have been implemented by about 340 organisations. If we compare the fact that 658 projects have been implemented by about 340 organisations out of registered 858 organisations, we can talk about a large number of inactive organisations. Where are the differences? The biggest difference is within general target groups (396 organisations for 219 projects), people with special needs and old people resulting from two different reasons. In experience, organisations that are with a general target group, are either some of the biggest organisations, or the smallest organisations, that if having activities, are not organised in projects. People with special needs and old people have activities, but they are not registered as projects. So there is a problem of non-registration. However, we can claim that this level of activities (or a social activity – social accountability) is not on the necessary level.
Who have the projects been aimed at?
Children and young people, women steadily active, villagers and cultural differences in increasing trend
The projects have most often been aimed at the general target group. In practice, these projects are most often projects for training, information and similar activities.
The traditional groups, children (3%), young people (8%), women (10%) and people with special needs (4%) take part with 25% of the total number. In comparison with 2001 there is a decrease in participation, but the number of projects is on a similar level (in 2003 more projects were registered with other aims).
There is a big increase at the villagers, from 2 to 14%. It is partly a reflection of the improved registration and the realistically increased activities.
There is also big increase at the cultural differences from 4 to 12%, related to the post-conflict period in Macedonia. The projects for refugees were also related to that period, and they have a trend of decrease from 6 to 2%, related to the decrease of the number of internally displaced people.
Where have the projects been carried out?
More than a half of the projects on a local and regional level, most often in the region of Bregalnica and Skopje, most rarely in the region of Strumica
The most significant is the increase of projects implemented locally (from 35 to 40%). It can point to the increased activity of the local civil society organisations. The bigger number of regionally carried out projects can point to bigger co-operation between the civil society organisations in the region. Namely, 355 projects have been carried out in co-operation with other organisations.
The local and regional projects (403 in total) do not have an equal geographic distribution. Regions with most projects are Skopje and Bregalnica. The regions of Polog and Pelagonija are regions with a big number of projects, and the regions of Kumanovo, Kratovo and Povardarie are of a moderate number. The Lake Regions (Ohrid, Prespa) and Strumica are of small numbers of projects.
Such regional distribution and big regional differences are unfavourable and the reasons for this should be researched. An unfavourable geographical distribution probably exists between the bigger and smaller centres in the regions themselves.
According to Mitko Nikolov, local co-ordinator in the NGO Support Centre in Strumica, there are a few reasons for this: donators’ interests in the multi-ethnic relations and the western part of Macedonia, lack of information about donators, donators are not interested in agricultural organisations and projects (Strumica is a dominantly agricultural area) and citizens’ great interest in the business sector and cross-border trade.
However, according to the data, only 14% of the projects are for cultural diversity (most often multi-ethnic projects) and about 13% are local and regional in the region of Polog. When talking about “donators’ interest in multi-ethnic relations and the western part of Macedonia”, it is more a stereotype than truth. It is similar with the fact that donators’ interest in agricultural organisations and projects is small, if we take into consideration that 14% of the projects are aimed at villagers.
The situation in Gevgelija is similar to Strumica. It can be claimed that in these two places the level of citizens’ engagement in business activities, that is, business entrepreneurship (agriculture and cross-border turnover) is high, and the level of social entrepreneurship is low.
What instruments have been used?
Information and representation/lobbying in increasing trend, whereas training decreases
The projects are realized as grants (mainly for infrastructure etc.), training and counseling, information and representation/lobbying.
The review is given in Table 4. The sum is bigger than the total number of projects as a result of the possibility for choice of more than one instrument.
Significant increase of the number of projects implemented as information and lobbying can be noticed (from 13 to 67%), and significant decrease of training and counseling (38 to 17%).
This can be a sign of maturation of the civil sector and involvement in representation, after the previous activities for capacity development (training and counseling).
Who has implemented the projects?
340 organizations involved and about 6000 volunteers
According to the collected information, 340 organizations and 5,868 volunteers have been involved in the projects’ implementation.
How do civic organizations cooperate?
As partners for over a half of the projects
In 355 projects there has been cooperation with either other civic organizations, or the local self-government units or government institutions. For example, in 241 projects the civic organizations cooperated among themselves, in 87 they cooperated with the local self-government units, and in 85 cases there was cooperation with governmental institutions.
The significant level of cooperation again implies maturation of the civic sector. The increased self-confidence is basis for improving cooperation, above all with LSU, but the governmental institutions, too. There is still the challenge to improve the cooperation with the business sector.
How much did the projects cost?
About 13 million Euro invested
Out of 658 projects, 597 have the values of the projects (or budgets). For these projects the total value is 798.896.353 MKD or 12.990.185 Euro.
This figure should be checked again from an aspect of possible repetition or financing in chain. For example, MCIC finances a project of a civic organization and they both record the project.
The civic platform of Macedonia, where the leading thirty organizations are involved, evaluates the total annual budget of about 700 million MKD. OSIMF, MCIC and MEDF take part in it with about 70%. Part of the projects is not aimed at civil society. On the other hand, some of the projects financed by American governmental sources are neither mentioned here, nor some domestic sources (state budget and lottery) for the organizations of people with special needs.
According to this, we can say that the data of 13 million Euros is useable for orientation.
References for future
Civic organizations should continue strengthening the responsibility in front of the Macedonian public. A few references on that.
In order to improve the results and transparency, the projects’ documentation and record should be improved. Projects’ register should be established. Efficiency can be impelled if certain tax releases are connected with obligatory registration.
A small number of registered organizations are probably active. The efficiency of the court register of civil society associations and foundations should also be improved by introducing measures for deleting inactive organizations.
Social activities or social responsibility (social entrepreneurship) in Macedonia should be researched. The activities for increasing social activity or social responsibility (social entrepreneurship) should be considered, especially aimed at certain target groups (e.g. unemployed) and for certain especially passive regions (Strumica, the lake region).
In spite of the satisfaction with the success in representation, it is necessary to keep a level of development and social projects.