Funds for Non-governmental Organisations - Active citizenship and inclusion

Key facts

Programme Operator:
Ekopolis Foundation
Programme ID:
Date of approval:
Total amount:
EEA Grants fund:
Norway Grants fund:
€ 0
Programme areas:

Currently available funding

Programme Summary

Why was the programme needed? The NGO programme ‘Active Citizenship and Inclusion’ was launched at a time of declining public trust in democratic institutions in Slovakia as well as a growth of right wing extremism and xenophobia. In 2006, a national survey of Slovakia revealed that 36% of population believed the society was not developing the right direction. In 2012, the year that the programme was initiated, this number had increased to 57%. The national survey found that many people were concerned about issues such as corruption, potential large-scale immigration and a lack of attention to rural regions. Public concerns about the high level of corruption was also reflected in Transparency International's Global Corruption Perception Index where Slovakia ranked worst among the four Visegrád countries in the period 2013-2015 and fifth worst among all EU countries. The programme was therefore established to empower Slovak civil society to address these issues. NGOs working in the following four areas were supported: •    Active citizenship •    Children and youth (including children and youth at risk) •    Protection of environment and climate change •    Welfare and basic services to vulnerable groupsWhat did the programme achieve? An independent monitoring of the programme from 2017 confirms that the programme successfully achieved strategic empowerment of civil society organisations, through staff training and the introduction of new ideas and methodologies. It was also found that the programme succeeded in targeting smaller organisations than those reached by EU and national funding sources, helping them to formalize, achieve positive change and sustain their existence in a context of limited funds. Roma empowerment and inclusion has been a core focus of the programme, with over half of the supported projects reaching out to Roma communities in Slovakia. One example the Association of Young Roma (SK10-0045), which launched a social enterprise that increased Roma employability and improved their livelihood conditions. The project was also highly effective in fighting stereotypes, by generating jobs for long-term unemployed non-Roma. The initiative triggered high levels of interest from the public and the media and led to attitudinal change among employers. 46 projects supported under the programme included activities to encourage multicultural understanding, involvement of marginalized groups and the promotion of equal opportunities. One example is the project ‘NGO Garden’ (SK10-0011) working in the region of Banská Bystrica, where a neo-nazi regional governor won the 2013 elections. The NGO ran a cultural centre that organised a wide range of activities, such as theatre performances, concerts, seminars and public discussions. More than 2600 visitors attended 113 events, focusing on issues such as integration of refugees, Roma inclusion, neo-Nazism, extremism and hate-speech. In addition, the NGO ran a social business café bar and a community workshop where main beneficiaries were vulnerable groups – including people living in poverty, persons with disabilities and Roma. Another core focus of the programme was strengthening active citizenship. A total of 54 decisions at various levels of public administration in Slovakia were positively influenced by project activities that promoted active involvement of citizens. For example, a project organised by the NGO Via Luris, ‘With the Citizens Comes Law’ (SK10-0046) achieved a significant broadening of citizens’ rights to participate in preparation of legislation at the level of the government. In terms of environmental protection, the programme contributed to the establishment of 15 new measures to safeguard biodiversity and 22 measures to promote climate change adaptation. One example is a campaign ‘Bike to work’ organised by the Association OCI BB (SK10-0040), which reached 55 Slovak towns.How were bilateral relations strengthened? 25.7% of the projects included a partner from the donor states. These partnerships promoted exchange of know-how and good practice between Slovak NGOs and relevant institutions in Iceland and Norway.  The programme also awarded 13 smaller grants for initiatives to strengthen bilateral relations. One example is a project led by the NGO Vagus (SK10-0028), which established a low threshold integration centre for homeless people in Bratislava. Their Norwegian partner, the ‘Salvation Army Norway’ has a  long-standing tradition as service provider for homeless people and was actively involved in the project. They helped Vagus learn new skills and methods in working with the homeless and shared examples of good practice in street work and experiences of involving the local community. The partnership included mutual study trips focusing on exchange of experience. Another example of a project that contributed to exchange of good practice in Slovakia and Norway was a trip organised by NGO Social Work Advisory Board with its partner the university ‘Diakonhjemmet Høgskole’ in Sandnes, Norway. The participants of the exchange trip published a comparative study on community-based social services in the two countries.What will be the impact of the programme? A strong focus of the programme has been developing the long-term sustainability and capacity of the NGO sector in Slovakia. For example, the pre-defined project ‘Active citizens everywhere’ (SK10-0035) promoted networking and developed an NGO development consultancy. 18 consultants from various regions of Slovakia were trained in civil society capacity building and 20 networking activities and seminars for 566 participants were organised. 40 NGOs reported progress in the areas of strategic planning, fundraising or communication because of provided training and consultancies. Furthermore, the Fund Operator and partners organised 17 networking and know-how sharing events attended by more than 1000 participants. On individual project level, the programme also systematically encouraged project promoters to work on innovative ideas and to incorporate long-term effects as part of the projects’ strategies. One example is support to the development of an online giving and crowdfunding project organised by the Centre for Philanthropy (SK10-0002). Thanks to the introduction of a user friendly platform, online donations almost doubled during the project implementation period (from EUR 170 000 in 2014 to EUR 330 000 € in 2015). Donations grew even further, reaching over EUR 1 000 000 in 2016. Overall, these initiatives have therefore increased the sustainability of Slovak NGOs and empowered them to achieve and sustain effective impact.