Funds for Non-governmental Organisations
Strengthened civil society development and enhanced contribution to social justice, democracy and sustainable development
03 October 2013
PA10 - Funds for non-governmental organisations
Calls for proposals
There are no further calls for proposals.
Over the last years, Greece has been suffering from an economic and social crisis that has stayed for too long and has significantly weakened society. According to the state’s own figures, the economy has been shrinking since 2008. Austerity measures are still in place, extending the period of economic recession, while capital controls have been imposed on bank transfers and cash withdrawals since July 2015. At the same time, the country and its people had to respond to the humanitarian crisis that broke out in its territory, with more than 1,000,000 refugees and migrants passing the Greek borders. Active citizenship and trust towards institutions remain low, while civil society started playing an important role in providing citizens with an alternative way of channeling different views in the decision-making process. Established NGOs have scaled up their efforts and new ones were established in an attempt to fill in the gap left by the failing welfare state. While there is no shortage of dynamism, the Greek NGO sector is characterized by a need for professional skills that can contribute to an efficient and effective civil society. The lack of a legal framework for NGOs and a national NGO registry further contributed to the systemic challenges faced by the sector.
Within this context, the NGO Programme “We are all Citizens” attempted to fill the gaps of the public social welfare state, promote democratic values and human rights, develop the watchdog role of the NGOs and strengthen the Greek civil society at large. Thanks to the 7.34M€ funding provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, a total number of 75 projects have been implemented around Greece, by 64 project promoters and 44 partners, motivating more than 722 volunteers to contribute more than 26.000 hours of their time. The total number of people who have directly benefited from the Programme is calculated at more than 205,000, coming mainly from socially vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, people at risk of poverty and social exclusion, the unemployed, and victims of hate crime, domestic violence and trafficking. A significant amount of 2.9M€ has been allocated to children and youth-related projects. We received a total of 571 applications requesting a total amount of approximately 65 million euros. Overall, the interest of the civil society organizations was high, with the call on provision of social welfare services attracting the majority of applications. This was anticipated, as a result of the current socio-economic situation and the augmented need for basic welfare services for socially vulnerable groups.
During the Programme’s implementation phase, emphasis was given to reducing social inequality, poverty and social exclusion, to the protection of human rights, including the rights of minorities, to the capacity building of NGOs and to the promotion of democracy, transparency and good governance.
One of the most successful projects under the outcome “Provision of welfare and basic services to defined target groups increased” was entitled “Food Aid and Promotion of a Healthy Nutrition Program- DIATROFI”, implemented by the NGO “Institute of Preventive Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health – Prolepsis” in remote and rural areas of north Greece, benefiting 2,145 students in total. An especially successful project under the outcome “Advocacy and watchdog role developed” is the project “Volunteerism in Schools in Greece”, implemented by the non-profit foundation DESMOS. This project managed to promote volunteerism through a complete set of educational materials approved by the Greek Ministry of Education, addressed to more than 1000 teachers and students.
One of the most innovative projects under the outcome “Democratic values, including human rights promoted” was entitled “Find Human Rights a Home” and was implemented by the NGO “Meta-action, Action for Migration and Development. Through this project, legal information and assistance to 1,291 unaccompanied refugee children located at the main entry points was provided and the first registry of foster families for unaccompanied refugee children in Greece was created, helping children to find a temporary safe home in Greek foster families.
Under the outcome “Strengthened capacity of NGOs and an enabling environment for the sector promoted”, the project “Social Return on Investment”, implemented by Equal Society, is considered especially successful. It involved the development and implementation of the SROI (Social Return on Investment) methodology for measuring social impact in Greece.
In addition, the Programme gave particular emphasis to strengthening the capacity of all the project promoters. In fact, under the scope of We are all Citizens, an unprecedented curriculum of capacity development activities has been implemented, setting new standards for civil society empowerment in Greece in the future. The NGOs followed a comprehensive 120-hour training programme, taught by 19 trainers and covering a wide spectrum of thematic units. The organisations were also encouraged to share their strengths and success stories, via the ‘Forum’, a series of 34 good-practice sharing sessions. The CB Programme also offered one-to-one mentoring to the organisations. The mentoring team included 14 highly qualified pro bono mentors from a range of professional backgrounds. In total around 200 hours of pro bono mentoring were conducted. All of the capacity building materials were also made available to the wider civil society via an e-learning platform - www.ngodynamo.gr.
At a broader level, the CB Programme has also played a pioneering role in promoting and coordinating a new ecosystem for NGO capacity building in Greece. As a direct result of this outreach to other interested stakeholders, the Bodossaki Foundation launched ‘Social Dynamo’, an NGO incubator in Greece, in partnership with the municipality of Athens and 25 pro bono partners, mainly from the private sector. Social Dynamo offers a coworking space, training, technical support and networking. Several other grantmakers have also become involved in capacity building, and have entrusted Social Dynamo to provide capacity building to their grantees. The Bodossaki Foundation also played an active role in promoting the exchange of best practices and lessons learned in capacity building among EEA NGO Fund Operators, organizing a workshop on this theme in June 2016, followed by a published report.
At the start of our programming period, few contacts and collaborative projects between Greek civil society organisations and entities in the Donor states had been reported. By the end, the comprehensive nature of the Bilateral Fund helped to significantly contribute to the promotion of bilateral relations between Greece and the Donor states with a total of 50 bilateral initiatives, 3 thematic trips, 4 project partnerships, and approximately 600 participants. A total of 18 initiatives were carried out under measure (a), involving more than 20 NGOs from Greece and entities from the Donor states, especially Norway. During the Programme, four projects were implemented with a partner from the donor states. Of these four projects, three came about as a result of a bilateral initiative carried out under measure (a), in what illustrates the importance of the Bilateral Fund in bringing about positive change in bilateral relations. For example, the bilateral initiatives between the Human Rights Defense Centre from Greece and the European Wergeland Centre, a major partner of the Council of Europe from Norway, resulted in a project that had at its core “Bookmarks”, a manual of the Council of Europe for combating hate speech online through human rights education.
Through the Complementary actions of the Programme, both the Fund Operator and the project promoters exchanged best practices and established cooperation with a variety of stakeholders at national and regional levels, including the Council of Europe and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. It is worth mentioning the cooperation with the European Investment Fund to organize a workshop in Athens related to microfinance and social entrepreneurship, aiming to highlight microfinance as an alternative tool for NGOs to generate income or to use it for the benefit of vulnerable groups. A session entitled “microfinance responses to the refugee and migrant situation in Europe” was a thematic training for the NGOs working for the integration of migrants in the beneficiary states. In addition, trying to assist the NGOs in measuring social impact and gaining from the experience of both the private and public sector, we organized together with the European Investment Bank Institute a workshop on measuring social impact. The workshop attracted participants from other Fund Operators and aimed to inform, raise awareness and exchange best practice on measuring social impact, as a prerequisite for effectively investing in social causes and achieving social change.