We are proud to present the 8th edition of our Balkan Civic Practices series under the title “Donors’ Strategies and Practices in Civil Society Development in the Balkans. Civil Society Lost in Translation?”. It presents the first ever analysis and overview of major donors supporting civil society in the Balkans. Its aim is to provide strategic insight at the funding trends, area specialization, donor coordination and funding mechanisms used in order to influence both donor-exit strategies and instigate government-led efforts towards sustainable civil society development.
The analysis draws 4 major conclusions and implication for the EU as the main donor:
• As the most influential donor in terms of the amount of assistance and in its funding repertoire, the EU has the potential hegemonic power to determine the focus of democracy promotion agendas and assistance. It also means that the effectiveness of the Commission’s intervention is a critical driver of how international assistance in the Western Balkans is perceived and legitimized;
• It’s not about priorities; it’s about long-term core funding. The analysis shows that donor are on the spot when civil society priorities are concerned, the problem is that major multi-lateral donors such as the EU does not use long-term and core grant mechanism needed especially in support of watchdog and democracy-building activities;
• Eurocratisation phenomena is also at work, confirming not only that that major donors tend to build and bolster organizations with existing capacities, instead of supporting smaller CSOs, but also that by not coordinating work with smaller donors offering long-term and core grants with leave the sector without organization having capacity and skills to absorb EU funds, something that the EC is relaying on, but not investing via better donor coordination;
• There is too many donors, offering small and declining amounts of funding, congregating around a narrow set of issues. Structuring donor cooperation with specialization by donorsmight be the only optimal solutions to avoid the duplication and in-effectiveness.
The publication is a result of joint collaboration with Queen Marry, University of London. The analysis was based on the websurvey results from responses by 48 major donors and interviews and desk-top research resulting in country donor maps. The donor maps for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are available in our Donor Strategies and Practices database, alongside other useful resources such as the links to all existing donor databases in the region, other analysis and research on the subject.
The paper is available in English only. The English version is also available in hard-copy upon request from the BCSDN Executive Office.