“We have to change, we should not be afraid to be business oriented, it will not make us less oriented towards our missions and goals. On the contrary, it will give us the opportunity to work on them much more”, this was the conclusion of Civica Mobilitas Thematic Forum entitled: “Can We Do More than Grants?!” – CSO Financing via: Donations, Crowdfunding and Social Enterprises. We should network much more than we have done so far and we should talk about what we do. This is the first step to building confidence between the CSOs on one hand and the citizens or companies on the other. The people present also spoke about transparency as an important segment in building mutual trust and developing the awareness to donate.

The speakers at the Forum agreed that there is a need to work on changes in the legal regulations as civil sector, by referring to the Law on Donations and Sponsorships in order to alleviate the process of donating. “It is disappointing to say that we have more than 100 refused donations of more than MKD 12,000 via the E-crowd platform because of the system, banks, legislation”, said Ljupcho Petkovski, Vice President of Ino Hub – Skopje and one of the speakers at the Forum. He also stressed that Macedonians want to donate and they donate which is confirmed with various actions, but work has to be done on liberalizing the legislation. Vikot Mirchevski, the Programme Manager of KONEKT added to this by stressing that more than 100 organizations are part of the Network on Financial Sustainability of CSOs advocating for changes in the Law on Donations and Sponsorships; there has already been a working group established to work on this change. The goal is to alleviate the tax obligations to those who donate, says Mirchevski. “At Konekt we say that donating is love and just as in a romantic relationship, there should be a process of getting to know each other and gaining mutual trust between the CSOs and citizens companies”, he said.

Suzana Trajkovska Kochankovska, social and business advisor at the project Support to Social Enterprises stressed the positive example by stating that CSOs should develop economic activities. “The projects have limited resources, and your mission is broader than the project goals. The social entrepreneurship is not only a project, it is resolving human destinies”, said Trajkovska Kochankovska. She thinks that the real potential is with CSOs that should work on new services in the spirit of the time that will enable then economically stable organizations. She stressed networking as an important segment, not only among CSOs, but also with the business community and the citizens themselves.

During the Forum, the people present told about their positive experiences with alternative ways of financing. There was a discussion on the Donor Circle of KONEKT, E-crowd of Ino Hub, but also the activities which started with the initiative of a single person, such as “Donate a Computer” and today they are recognized not only in our country, but also in Europe. From Kindness they stressed the initiative “Retweet a Meal” which mobilizes volunteers who prepare food for vulnerable groups. “Today we have a list of companies waiting in line to get involved with their volunteering activities”, said Toni Stankovski and added that they already know who would volunteer to prepare food for the next month and a half. Rural Coalition spoke about “Our Stand”, an important activity for the women in rural environments, but also about its transformation to social enterprise, while the stories of Zdravec 2002 once again confirmed that people and businesses are prepared to join to help their compatriots. All shared experience had networking, good promotion and communication strategies in common.

“Before, we used to learn how to write project proposals, now we need to learn how to sell our idea to companies and citizens”, said Mirchevski. The participants in the debate agreed that we can and we have to do more than grants. It is necessary to change the way of thinking and functioning of the people in CSOs, but the good side is that the change has started. At the same time, the awareness of the people and business if developing when it comes to donations, which is only an addition to the process.

The form as a whole can be watched at this LINK.

Civica Mobilitas Thematic Forum provides space for discussion among the CSO representatives, institutions at national and local level and all other stakeholders important for resolving the issues that are being targeted.

Civica Mobilitas is a programme for civil society support of the Swiss Embassy, implemented by NIRAS from Denmark, the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) and FCG from Sweden.