The brief highlights the brighter side of CSOs state support, namely best practices of non- financial support (NFS) in order to demonstrate that these are possible and desirable for civil society development (CSDev) and sustainability in the Balkan countries and Turkey. The evaluation of NFS was guided by Standard 4: Non-financial support is available from the state from the Monitoring Matrix for Enabling Environment for CSDev, area 2: Framework for financial viability and sustainability of CSOs, sub-area 2.2 State support. The brief maps the state of play of the legal and policy frameworks regulating NFS availability and distribution for civil society in the region. Finally, it focuses on best practices in the region on local and national level, concluding with a set of recommendations.
The findings show that basic laws regulating the freedom of association very rarely include provisions which enable granting of non-financial forms of support. Commonly, bylaws and policy documents such as strategies and action plans for the development of civil society include measures for improvement of the availability and distribution of NFS. Finally, laws which regulate the functioning of local governments are the most common legal basis for granting this type of support to CSOs in the countries from the Balkans and Turkey. This is in line with the practice, where municipalities are the main providers of NFS.
Even in the cases where there is legal and policy basis for granting NFS, clear criteria and procedures for allocation of NFS are lacking. This means that agreements can be concluded for granting NFS between parties concerned but there are no guarantees for securing transparent, fair, balanced and accountable allocation of public resources to CSOs. The criteria for allocation of financial support should be extended with criteria which apply to NFS and especially when it comes to providing public property and equipment to CSOs. The countries in the Balkans and Turkey should create national and local registers of public property and enact criteria, measures and procedures for transparent allocation of spaces to CSOs.
This brief was published with the support of the Open Society Foundations Think Tank Fund, in the framework of the Think Tank Young Professional Development Program. For the full text of the brief and specific recommendations for CSOs, local governments and state institutions regarding NFS, read the brief in English and Macedonian language.