Public Funding for NGOs and Participation in Decision-making
Public Funding for NGOs and Participation in Decision-making

CHARTER 1: Public funding for NGOs.

  1. Is there a special government program providing grants to NGOs?

There is a mechanism for providing state funding to NGOs on a competitive base. Every year The Russian President approves regulations for providing money from the federal budget to NGOs working in the field of civil society development. Nowadays this kind of state funding is the only one so large in Russia.  
The legal base for the state funding of NGOs is The Budget Code (BC) that definite the order forming the amount of subsidies from budgets on different levels (federal, regional, municipal). Such subsidies are provided by the Russian government, regional executive branches, city administration.  So such public funding is not stable for NGOs as:

  1.  It can be changed every year because this procedure is regulated only by The President's order.
  2. The amount of such funding depends on the federal budget (it's up to the government to definite the budget amount). It must be pointed out that nowadays tendency is to increase the amount of the public funding every year. 

The procedure for distributing the state funding includes several basic steps:
1. The President provides the whole amount of subsidies to The Federal Public Chamber (FPC);
2. The Chamber divides it into several parts and transfers each part to the so called "operator" – this is a NGO that must collect applications from other NGOs – participants in the competition under step 3;
3. FPC announces a competition for NGOs to apply for public funding.
4. Each "operator" must evaluate the applications and choose the winning NGO/s, provide them the approved sum of money and control their usage by the funded NGO/s.
The aims of such public funding are social research and monitoring of the civil society; realization of projects in such fields as education, art, culture and public diplomacy; human rights defense, legal education of people; social support of poor and socially unprotected people; advocacy of healthy mode of life  and protection of environment; youth initiative support.
In 2009 such governmental assistance was given for 97 Russian NGOs, 33 of which are situated in Moscow, 6 – in St. Petersburg, and only 19 NGOs beyond The Urals received money (almost 12 of Russia). So, about 34 % of financial assistance stays in Moscow and only 19% of NGOs from other regions received such funding. This kind of government financial support is available for NGOs during the last 4-5 years but the issue with the allocation of the government money throughout Russia is approximately the same every year. Most NGOs believe that such public funding is given for realization of those projects that don't conflict with state policy or don't interfere it. As a result a great amount of Russian NGOs are actually denied to get such public funding. Besides in Russia there is informal policy not to give public financial support for those NGOs that work with foreign donors. Russian NGOs don't trust the government because of the lack of clear rules and procedures for distribution of the state financial support.
In the nearest future great changes are being planned in Russian NGO legislative. In the annual message for The Parliament The Russian President said a few weeks ago:
"At first, it will be created the institute of social orientated non-for-profit organizations.   Such organizations will be able to get direct state support. The governmental bodies can assist such organizations with finance, information and consultations. But it's not all. The government is obliged to get such organizations tax benefits, to give them public procurements. Also the governmental bodies will be able to give such organizations properties for usage in their own activities.
The state is going to free from the benefit taxes the welfare assistance that approved by charity NGOs for children who are without parents care and for invalids.
One more offer. The value-added taxes won't be paid by the NGOs that care about sick people, invalids, old people, orphaned children and children without parents care.
Also the benefit taxes won't be paid if NGOs would realize programs of health care, sports development.
One more change in law will concern the forming and filling of special-purpose capital by NGOs. It will become possible by donations of financial credit instruments and realty, and the list of activities that allow forming the special-purpose capital will be fulfilled with the activities of environmental protection.
At third. The charity law will be developed and improved. Its goals will be recognized: social rehabilitations of orphaned children and children without parents care, legal assistance, promotion of science-technological art of children and youth, and also charity and voluntary work.
The forth. The definition "donation" should be added by work and service free of charge.
We will assist those organizations that help other people without seeking to profit."

  1. Are there organizations that receive direct state subsidies because they are important or represent the interests of certain groups (e.g. the Red Cross or Union of Blind)?

No, there are no such organizations in Russia. All organizations are equal in receiving state subsidies distributed on a competition base as described above.

  1. Are there examples of local authorities providing funds to NGOs for certain activities?

Before changes in the article 78 of the BC subsidies and subventions including for grants are allowed in federal and regional programs, federal and regional laws, and also in the decisions of the municipal representatives. According to this article a grant, a subsidy, a subvention  are absolutely different. The changes to the article suspended "grant" out of the article 78 of The BC and added the new article 78.1 about the subsidies for NGOs.
The subsidies mean that NGOs get money without paying something and they don't have to return the unused part of the subsidy for the purpose it was provided - to compensate NGOs expenses for producing goods, making work and rendering of services. The new article at first includes the imperative rule about the criteria for providing subsidies to NGOs also. These criteria must be definite in laws on subsidies and such laws can be passed through different government levels (federal, regional). So each level must decide the amount of allowed subsidies that will be allocated on it territory. According to the nowadays legislative regulations municipals are not allowed to give subsidies to NGOs. But before 2008 such projects were popular in Russia.

  1. Another legal possibility for funding of NGOs by local authorities is receiving municipal property under rent without taking part in a tender. This legal possibility is amended in July, 2009 NGOs.
  2. Are there cases when the state/local authorities hire an NGO to provide certain services or perform a certain task e.g. prepare a legislative analysis or provide food to old people.

Yes. In some regions one can find experience of attracting NGOs for making work and service, but throughout Russia such practice is not the same. Mostly NGOs are hired for making work and service in social area.

  1. Can NGOs take part in public procurement procedures and get contracts?

In Russia there is a federal law "About the distribution orders for delivery of goods, work delivery, rendering of services for state and municipal needs". In the frames of this law NGOs can take part in working delivery and rendering of services in the base of a contract. Such contract is concluded after tenders with a winner. Theoretically NGOs can take part in public procurement procedures and get contracts, BUT practically it's not possible. Why? The official answer for this question can't be found.

  1. Are state funds provided in a decentralized way (e.g. each ministry gives grants in its own area or there is one institution giving grants in different areas).

Many laws in Russia regulate issues of cooperation between the government and NGOs (by state bodies, Ministries, etc.) so it's considered the government can give financial support for NGOs. However such practice is not very widespread in Russia but it sometimes happens. In some regions one can find situations of giving grants by ministries and official bodies (for example, a representative of the President in a region).



CHARTER 2: NGO participation in decision-making

  1. Is there a state strategy for NGO-government relations?

No, there is no such document which states a strategy for relations between NGOs and the government. But recently The Conception of developing of Civil legislation where it is mentioned about NGO law was passed. This Conception offers to make shorter a list of organizational – legal forms of NGOs (Now there are about 20 organizational – legal forms of NGOs in Russia). Also it's offered to make the registration procedure of NGOs and changes in their documents (now these procedures are similar). So the government tries to make NGOs' "life" easier to help them to concentrate powers in their activities not in formal procedures (reporting, registration procedures, etc) .
Also in 2007 it was passed the Conception of cooperation in charity and volunteer activities. In the connection of these conceptions great changes in NGO legislation was passed and lots of them are planned. In this conception the state offers to reform law about charities (to widen the list of charity activity, to state new tax benefits for charity organizations, etc.). Most of its regulations are being done by the government.

  1. Is there a ministry or agency responsible for relations with NGOs?

In each regional department of the Ministry of Justice of The RF there are branches that work with NGOs (NGO registrations, control, etc). Such branches are created also in the administration of the Russian President the Council on the cooperation in development of the Civil society institutions and Human Rights (

  1. Is there a Parliamentary commission responsible for NGO issues?

In The Federation Council there is a committee on the development of Civil Society Institutions. In The State Duma it was created the executive office on the questions of public and religion organizations.

  1. Can NGOs easily take part in debates in parliamentary committees?

Theoretically NGOs can take part in all parliamentary hearings but the information about them is not available for most NGOs. So they don't have an opportunity to take part in such procedures.
The parliamentary hearings are opened for all people and organizations as the activity of the Parliament is public as it is assigned in the Russian Constitution. But the information about hearings of some social issues that can be interesting for some NGOs isn't public. Also for presenting on the parliamentary hearings NGOs must have an invitation by a member of the Parliament. The procedure of getting invitations isn't clear. The media also can present on the hearings but they must have a letter of accreditation. 

  1. Is there a legal requirement for ministries/parliament to publish draft laws on their websites and ask for comments from the public?

No, such requirement isn't established in laws. But The Federal Public Chamber has the right to require drafts of laws for providing a public expertise. Also in July, 2009 in Russia the law "about an anticorruption expertise of laws and drafts of laws" was passed. NGOs also have an opportunity to make such anticorruption expertise at their own cost and give a conclusion. Such conclusions are recommendatory and must be researched by the governmental bodies.

  1. Are there joint bodies between the administration and NGOs for consultations on different issues?

Public chambers of different levels (federal, regional, municipal) are universal bodies that also can consult NGOs on different questions.
From time to time in some regions leading NGOs organize resource centers for rendering assistance for NGOs including legal consultations. Such resource centers exist either on the volunteer base or for grants or subsidies.
In the Irkutsk region The Regional government formed The Council on national-cultural autonomies' questions, and also the Inter-confessional Council of the Irkutsk region was organized.
In January 1996 some Irkutsk NGOs formed a coalition body – The United Council of NGOs in Irkutsk and the Irkutsk region (The Council of NGOs). Every third Wednesday of a month this Council takes place and many important questions are discussed there.  The role of all these institutions is cooperation in developing of civil society, strengthening the interaction between government and society.

  1. Is there a legal act or other state document requiring the administration to consult with NGOs?

No, such legal act wasn't passed in a centralized order. However on the regional levels some laws and sub laws can be passed. Such legal acts regulate cooperation and social partnership with NGOs and governmental bodies in different areas during a short period of time.

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