Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.
NGO Fund Estonia
The NGO fund aims at an NGO sector taking part more actively in the country's economic and social development. Therefore, the fund will offer small grants to NGOs capable and willing to take over part of public services in cooperation with local municipalities.
Strengthening civil society
- 57 small projects have been financed.
- 64 large projects have been financed
- Cooperation between NGOs and the public sector has been improved
- The role and visibility of the NGO sector have increased
- National State Institute North
Estonia boasts an enormous number of registered non-profit organisations with a total of 31’107 NGOs. Many of them are providing public services by the delegation of public authorities, who maintain the control and responsibility for the provision of the service. Actually 60% of local municipalities are cooperating with NGOs, who often improve the quality and accessibility of services. Due to the economic downturn (2008-2009) a third of NGOs needed to reduce the volume of services and a sixth of them had to cancel investment and development activities. At the same time the need for public services provided by NGOs has remained the same or even increased.
The Block Grant’s purpose is to help building the capacity of Estonian non-profit associations and foundations to develop civil society and shape an environment that fosters civic action. Furthermore, the Block Grant shall develop and reinforce cooperation between the third and the public sector in improving the access and quality of public services that contribute to the enhancement of social cohesion and create a healthy living environment for local residents. In fact, the NGO's institutional capacities will be strengthened as well as their cooperation with the public sector and local municipalities in different areas like social services, children, youth and family work, education and health care.
NGOs, (associations, charities and institutions except those founders are governmental institutions). Municipalities and other public sector institutions willing to outsource public services.
Activities with the impact of reducing social inequality, enhancing social cohesion and creating a healthy living environment will be subject to financing. There will be held two kinds of open calls: (i) three open calls for preparing service plans in cooperation with at least two municipalities; (ii) three open calls to select sub-projects, which are implemented by NGOs in cooperation with at least two municipalities; the sub-projects will be implemented on the basis of existing service plans, financed by the Block Grant or by other sources. To achieve good results, the NGOs will be furthermore supported in terms of trainings in order to strengthen their institutional capacities.
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Foreign state institution
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 2’500’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 2’470’743|
Phase 1 30.06.2010 - 30.06.2016 (Completed)
NGO Fund in Estonia
Non-governmental organisations receive funding from a support fund to promote and strengthen the participation of civil society in the country’s social and economic development. An agreement for 57 small and 51 large projects has been signed, five of which will be implemented with Swiss partners: one project supports families with premature babies and newborns with serious illnesses or disabilities. The support includes advice and follow-up for the parents concerned, and is being implemented in close cooperation with the university hospital in Tartu.
Care and support for premature infants and their families
This project, which has been realised in cooperation with Tartu University Hospital, provides assistance to families with premature infants or newborn infants suffering from a serious illness or disability. It includes advice and support for parents in this situation.
Security for elderly and disabled people at home
The idea behind this project is the installation of alarm systems in the homes of elderly and disabled people. Pressing an alarm button sends a signal to voluntary helpers in the neighbourhood who can rush to the person's home to provide the needed assistance. This makes it possible to postpone admission to a hospital or nursing home, which can be very expensive.
Guiding prisoners to freedom
Six months before their release, prisoners are prepared for life after prison, and during their initial period of freedom, they are guided by a counsellor. The counsellors help them in finding housing and a job, reintegrating into society and overcoming administrative hurdles. These measures reduce the risk that the released prisoners will relapse into illegal and criminal activities.
Strenghtening Civil Society
The Swiss enlargement contribution finances a support fund for non-governmental organisations (NGO fund) in all partner countries except Malta. The purpose of these funds is to promote and strengthen the participation of civil society in the socioeconomic development of the respective countries. The total contribution to all NGO funds amounts to around CHF 66 million.
In the new member states of the EU, civil society is significantly more developed than it was at the beginning of the 1990s, but it is not yet as well developed as in the older member states. NGOs suffer from various shortcomings: for example, they are poorly integrated in society and have a weak financial and institutional base.
A strong NGO sector is essential for civil society
The funds for non-governmental organisations in all new EU member states except Malta provide essential support for civil society in these countries. This will result in the strengthening of the NGO sector and civil society in the respective countries. In particular, it is often the poorer and socially disadvantaged sections of the population who benefit from a well-developed range of services provided by NGOs.
NGOs – indispensable players
By formulating concepts and taking action (in relation to vulnerable groups, minorities, the environment
and culture), civil society strengthens the democratisation process. It also helps make government agencies more efficient by ensuring that they take better account of the concerns of the population.
This applies both to specific action taken at a local level and to advocacy at the regional and national level. NGOs thus often deal with a wide variety of issues in daily life. The NGO funds will be used in particular to support social welfare and environmental projects. More than half the approved projects will come under one of these two headings. Switzerland will however also fund projects in other areas, for instance the increased involvement of citizens in political decision making processes and cooperation between NGOs and local government. In some countries, the NGO fund programmes have already been completed or are about to be completed.
Swiss organisations offer valuable experience
Involving Swiss partners in projects enables NGOs to benefit from Swiss expertise. Overall, just under 20% of the projects will be implemented with Swiss involvement. Swiss expertise and experience is extremely valuable on a number of fronts for NGOs in partner countries which are often working in a new environment and therefore lack experience. For instance, Swiss NGOs can help their partners cooperate with the government, encourage young volunteers, or even help with bookkeeping. Swiss know-how enables organisations in the partner countries to implement efficient and effective projects directly, while making optimum use of their financial and human resources.
Targeted support for civil society is also in Switzerland’s interest
Thanks to partnerships with organisations in the partner countries, Swiss organisations are also able to extend their networks and expertise. The mechanisms of the NGO funds favour these partnerships. Moreover, Switzerland also benefits from the activities of NGOs, as many aspects such as economic exchange, migration and environmental protection are interrelated and are of international and even global relevance in some cases.
The NGO funds set up as part of the Swiss enlargement contribution
• co-finance some 700 projects totalling CHF 66 million
• strengthen the NGO sector in the respective countries and consequently support civil society
• have also resulted in the creation of partnerships between foreign and Swiss organisations for around 150 small NGO projects
• is enabling projects primarily addressing social welfare and environmental issues, as well as other problem areas, to be implemented.