Part 3 of 3 in the series: So, what did we expect to happen and what actually happened in 2012?

Wrapping up our three-part series on what happened in the world of philanthropy during 2012 through the eyes of key leaders of foundations throughout the Balkans, we review the last 4 predictions that were made at the beginning of last year and hear how each was or was not fulfilled.

As always, we welcome your comments or counterpoints to the views expressed by our esteemed colleagues in the field.

2012 Prediction 7:

Partnerships will become more common – between companies and non-profits, companies and institutions or between all three sectors – in the efforts to respond to the needs in the communities in a more strategic and efficient way. 

This prediction was resoundingly labeled by contributors as being fulfilled, both on a national and local level.  A series of national campaigns were noted in Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia as examples of the effectiveness of partnerships that include media and private companies to promote and leverage further giving by citizens and other companies.  These partnerships often involve leveraging significant in-kind contributions of creative human resources and media time to strategically target an audience of citizens and companies and spur them to action.  However, a number of comments demonstrated that the use of partnerships needs to be greatly expanded in order to achieved the desired impact and goals of foundations and CSOs.

Some examples given include:

“Yes, especially at the local level. More and more municipalities are actively looking for partners in non-profit organizations and the business sector in order to put into operation the unused resources. Public-private partnerships are becoming more common.” says Vesna from BiH

“In the past year we have been developing long-term partnerships and commitments with the corporate sector, and we believe this could be one of the winning strategies towards this goal. Companies are becoming more strategy oriented, and offering them sustainable projects plus media visibility, can bring long-term relationships. On another note, CSOs should be more flexible and creative, and use pro bono services and in-kind contributions from companies to lower the actual budget of the project,”  inputs Ana from Serbia

2012 Prediction 8:

Individual philanthropy will develop; with online giving it will become easier for average citizen to donate. As a result, citizens will become more integrated part of philanthropic efforts.

Partially fulfilled. The general consensus seems to be that although individual philanthropy may be on the slow rise or emerging, this is not mostly due to options for online giving that have become available, since many of these options are either new or still in development/piloting phase.

Another issue that was highlighted by several thought leaders was that this is one area where the human resources and capacity of organizations is still not developed.  Since CSOs and foundations don’t have the know-how in approaching high- or mid-worth individuals and facilitating donations, there is little progress that has been made.  Some stand-out exceptions can be noted with numerous high-value gifts being made through Fund B92’s Battle for Babies or Divac Foundation’s Everyone Can Help campaigns in Serbia through both residents and individuals from the diaspora.

“Not much. Same level. Mainly SMS donations and donations of material goods. Key reason is that local CSOs rarely ask individuals for support,” according to Zoran from Macedonia

“Not really sure. I think yes on local level and for some causes on national level as well. But I would not say that in general we’ve made great progress in terms of developing individual philanthropy. I think this prediction was grossly optimistic – it still stands, but given the economic crisis, it will take longer than thought to have serious results/difference,” says Mia from Serbia 

2012 Prediction 9:

Increase of individual philanthropy will influence increased demands for transparency and accountability on the side of recipients of philanthropic resources.

Not fulfilled. While many respondents agreed that a substantial increase in individual philanthropy will eventually foster increased demands for transparency and accountability, most stated that the prevalence of the funding footprint still being borne by foreign and government donors results in key accountability measured being directed towards those donors rather than to the general public (or potential individual donor pool).  Much more remains to be done in this sector, and an increase in laying out standards and best practices for reporting back to individual donors is a key area of improvement that could be achieved in the coming year.

“Slightly increasing the level of development of individual philanthropy did not increase quality standards in terms of transparency of nonprofit organizations. However, within some networks, such as the CSO Agreement + network, run by the Centre for the Promotion of Civil Society, in the last year worked to raise the standard of quality in the work of CSOs and to improve organizations’ policies and operating procedures. This served as a good basis for further improvements in the field of standardization and the introduction of ISO standards,” says Jasna from BiH

2012 Prediction 10:

Regional initiatives will become more active: the SIGN Network will contribute to philanthropy development in the Balkans while other regional actors (i.e. companies) will look for support in addressing regional needs and issues. 

This prediction is labeled as being partially fulfilled, given that some regional initiatives, including the Southeast Europe Indigenous Grantmakers Network (SIGN), have continued to evolve and emerge, and some regional exchanges of philanthropy practitioners have taken place under the auspices of the Mott Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund during 2012.  SIGN was successful in being awarded a regional EU grant that is partially focused on increasing regional collaboration towards an improved framework for philanthropy development in 5 countries in the region. 

Emerging national networks, such as the Network of Croatian Foundations and the Serbian Philanthropy Forum provide unique opportunities for regional collaboration and exchange of tradecraft between such networks, and linking them with existing initiatives such as the Bulgarian and Romanian Donors Forums.

“The SIGN Network has developed a project with the aim to raise the impact of sustainability and civil society by raise public confidence in civil society and to create an enabling environment for philanthropy, CSR, volunteerism and inter-agency cooperation. In parallel we will work to increase transparency. The EU has decided to finance the project, and we believe that our joint effort and work really enhance philanthropic activities over the next two years,” says Vesna from BiH

“All these issues are part of the global picture on the Balkans and philanthropy as itself cannot be looked at as a separate issue or process on its own; and therefore cannot be completely evaluated.  This is a longer process that is influenced by other issues on the Balkans and whole impact of the development of philanthropy will be seen in the years to come”, according to Ana from Serbia


Given the format of PP as an interactive blog, we are always interested in hearing your thoughts about progress made against the predictions for 2012 in the area of philanthropy development in the Balkans.  You are encouraged to leave your comments and provide us with your inputs or questions.

Stay tuned for an upcoming entry of what our 8 thought leaders from the region expect for 2013… 

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Nathan Koeshall