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2014 CSO SUSTAINABILITY in Bulgaria: Civil Sector Still Unstable

August 04, 2015
2014 CSO SUSTAINABILITY in Bulgaria: Civil Sector Still Unstable

The CSO (Civil Society Organisations) Sustainability in Bulgaria for 2014 index shows a standstill in the development of the civil sector. Its rate remains unchanged since 2012 at 3.3. Hence, for a third year in a row our country is still in the Sustainability Evolving category.

„The sustainability rate indicates Bulgaria’s civil sector is still unstable. Combined with the unchanged figures from 2012 it shows that there is no development since 2012.This is one of the biggest problems that CSOs are faced with, and it requires immediate actions. Their direction is clear: financial stability, organisational capacity development, involving local communities and volunteers and improving communication between CSOs and the government“, Luben Panov, Director of the Bulgarian Centre for Not-for-Profit Law comments.

According to the survey, the most stable civil society is in Estonia and the Czech Republic which are in the Sustainability Impeded  category. Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia are in the same category too. The  Sustainability Evolving group includes Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro.

In terms of the parameters monitored in 2014, Bulgaria has improved in organisational capacity, infrastructure and financial viability. The parameters that have deteriorated are legal environment, advocacy and public image.

Legal environment. In 2014 this indicator received an evaluation of 2.4. The analysis of the Index shows that last year the legal environment that regulates the functioning of CSOs in Bulgaria has deteriorated. The main reason for this is the poor implementation of legislation and the delay of the implementation of the Strategy that supports the development of civil society organisations.

Organisational Capacity: 4.2. Although in 2014 this indicator marked a slight improvement, the analysis of the Index shows that the efforts by CSOs are still insufficient to ease the interaction with local communities. On the other hand, volunteering in Bulgaria is developing, an evidence of this is the huge number of people who took part in alleviating the refugee crisis and the restoration of flood damage last year.

Financial sustainability. This indicator also registered a slight improvement in 2014 and its total score is 4.3. This is due to the fact that last year the two main donors in the CSO sector, the EEA / Norwegian Financial Mechanism and the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme provided higher amounts of funding compared to 2013. However, despite these figures, diversification of funding sources for most CSOs remains limited, according to the report on the Index. Except for those CSOs that provide social services, other organisations,  especially those in the field of human rights have no financial sustainability over the long term. Therefore, there will be a natural decline of foreign financing, which is due to the completion of projects at the end of 2015 and will lead to a serious financial turmoil of the CSO sector.

"Financial stability means that there are many different sources of funding. Internationally, a major one of them is the state. It is important that the state provides state funding for civic initiatives on a competitive basis. This is among the main proposals for change in the Law for Non-Profit that is to be addressed by the responsible authorities," Luben Panov also said.

Advocacy. This indicator marked deterioration in the past year, its rate is 2.8. The conclusions in the report indicate that CSOs continue to have unclear channels to influence decisions made by the government. In 2014 there were almost no policy initiatives or efforts at lobbying by the industry due to strained relations with the previous Cabinet.

Infrastructure. This indicator also registered some improvement at the end of 2014, its index is 3.1. According to the analysis, the CSO networks regularly assume the role of intermediary support organisations and resource centres for the sector.

Public image. This indicator has also seen a deterioration since last year. Now its index is 3.4. The main reasons are the lack of concerted efforts by CSOs to communicate their initiatives and a misunderstanding in society about the nature of the work of CSOs.

The CSO sustainability is a tool that traces the development of the civil sector. It has existed since 1997 and is used in 29 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. The main factors it measures are legal environment, organisational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, infrastructure and public image.

The methodology of the Sustainability Index was developed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Bulgarian Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (BCNL) and USAID are partners in the development of the Index for Bulgaria. Each indicator is measured at 7-point scale, where 1 stands for the highest development, and 7 indicates the lowest.

For details on last year's results of the Index please visit BCNL’s web page:

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