KCSF published its Kosovar Civil Society Index 2018
Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF) has published the Kosovar Civil Society Index 2018. This study shows that despite a difficult political and economic situation in Kosovo, civil society has managed to remain a very important factor in democratizing the country.
More citizens are engaged in civil society compared to the past, either engaged as members or by doing volunteer work. Moreover, for many years civil society continues to be among the most trusted sectors in Kosovo, together with security institutions. However, in general, civic apathy continues and the number of those engaged in this sector remains low, while civil society is failing to communicate and involve enough citizens in its work.
From the other side, consecutive political crises and the extreme polarization of the political scene in Kosovo, along with the full focus of key institutions on major topics such as demarcation or dialogue with Serbia, seem to have affected civil society as well. The engagement of this sector in public policy has declined significantly, either in relation to invitations from public institutions or its sector initiatives. In general, consolidated organizations continue to be active in policy making, however a large part of the sector is not involved in this process, either at the local or central level.
The financing trend in civil society is declining in comparison to two years ago, in all indicators that cover this area, with the exception of public funds. Almost half of the active organizations have no funds at all, while the others have a very low annual turnover, with only a few thousand euros a year. These percentages have deteriorated in comparison with period two years ago. Foreign donors continue to be the main source of funding, although their funds are allocated to a smaller number of organizations compared to two years ago. On the other hand, funding from public funds has increased, especially the number of organizations that have benefited from public institutions.
While public opinion primarily identifies civil society through large organizations and with great funds and many employees, the study shows that a large number of organizations work on a totally voluntary basis, while the number of volunteers engaged in the sector is higher than number of employees.
Kosovar Civil Society Index for 2018 also identifies the problems faced by the sector, some of which are the reduction of foreign funds for civil society organizations, as well as lack of sufficient transparency in relation to allocation of public funds; lack of functional mechanisms for CSOs tax entitlements; the dominance of funding for short term projects, consequently the inability of planning for a longer time, and more complex and strategic interventions; large concentration of civil society organizations in Pristina and other major urban centers in Kosovo, etc.
Kosovar Civil Society Index is a regular KCSF study that periodically reviews the state of civil society in Kosovo by measuring the main dimensions of this sector, such as: structure, legal framework, governance and internal capacities of the sector, civic engagement, financing, perceived influence and external setting for civil society activities. This study, presents the only comprehensive study for this sector in Kosovo and is published every two years. The 2018 edition was supported by the Swiss Agency for Cooperation in Kosovo (SDC), through the Democratic Society Promotion (DSP) project.
SOME OF THE MAJOR FINDINGS OF KOSOVAR CIVIL SOCIETY INDEX 2018
There are more than 9,500 civil society organizations registered in Kosovo, out of which 1,943 sports clubs or sports federations. The number of organizations that have had any financial or employment activity during 2017 is estimated to be around 1,000. Most of the sector consists of small CSOs, both in terms of funds and staff. The sector is dominated by CSOs based in Pristina or major cities in Kosovo.
Almost half of CSOs in Kosovo operate without funding at all (46%), while the majority of CSOs operate with less than 10,000 EUR per year (23%). Despite the fact that most CSOs have little or no funds and a small number of employees, civil society employs a large number of staff in its structures. More specifically, the data from Tax Administration of Kosovo show 8,453 employees in a total of 816 NGOs. Also, CSOs account for 3.25% of the total number of active contributors to the Kosovo Pension Savings Trust. However, data show that work in this sector is not stable, as only about 3,500 people are considered as CSO employees over the 12 months of the year (continuously).
Civil society has a generally balanced gender composition with very large differences compared to the public and private sectors. The data are similar to those from two years ago, proving that this situation is unchanging. Specifically, while both Labor Force Survey and KPST data show that women in general do not reach even 1/3 of the number of employees in Kosovo, the ratio is almost equal within civil society organizations with a slight dominance of men (53.5% to 47%). Moreover, membership in civil society organizations is gender-balanced, compared to political parties, in which the number of men in relation to women is almost three times higher.
Foreign donors continue to be the main source of funding for CSOs in Kosovo, although with a noticeable decline comparing to previous year. Concretely, foreign donors allocate their funds to a smaller group of organizations (22.8%) compared to two years ago (38.6%). On the other hand, the opposite trend is observed in public funds, where in 2017 more organizations received public funds (33.6%) compared to 2015 where only 27.7% of CSOs had benefited from public funds. It is worth noting that the overwhelming majority of grants from public funds do not exceed the total of 10,000 EUR (90%). Also, most grants from public funds come from the central level (61.8%), and about 38.2% from the municipalities. Other sources of funding, such as donations from private companies, the sale of goods and services, or revenues from membership fees remain relatively low.
Only about 5% of organizations have been invited regularly for public consultation, and 21.8% are invited occasionally, either from the central or local level. Percentages are considerably lower compared to data from 2015. In general, the influence of civil society organizations in decision-making remains limited.
Unlike previous years, there is an increase in the participation of citizens in civil society organizations, where about 11.5% of citizens are members of at least one organization compared to the data of 2015 where only 2.9% of citizens declared such involvement. There is also an increase in the number of volunteers working for CSOs – from 3.8% in 2015 to 15.2%. However, trust among citizens remains low over the years, where only 11.7% of citizens think that most people can be trusted.