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WATCHDOG Newsletter IV

The Environmental Law Service, Czech Republic, December 2007

  • About the project
  • Official Watchdog Website
  • Fundraising strategies for Watchdog NGOs
  • About The Newsletter

About the project

The Watchdog Incubator project addresses two serious problems facing watchdog NGOs in New Members States. The first is insufficient knowledge of similar organizations and possibilities for cooperation in other Member states. The second problem relates to decreasing financial sources. The project aims to boost cooperation between NGOs from different parts of the EU and to work on developing diverse fundraising strategies for watchdog organizations in the region.

Official Watchdog Website

Looking for project partners in your region and beyond?  Want to know more about the Watchdog project partners organizations and services? Want to read past issues of the Watchdog Newsletters?  For more information and full outputs from the Watchdog project please visit www.watchdog.eps.cz

Fundraising strategies for Watchdog NGOs

One of the main activities from the project “From local to global heroes - NGO networking and project incubation in New Member States" was a meeting of watchdog and advocacy NGOs with donor representatives. This was organized at the end of November. We have informed you about the meeting in the last issue of the Newsletter. What follows is more detailed information about the thoughts and ideas concerning funding strategies presented by the meeting's participants.

As it was already pointed out in the last Newsletter, the crucial problem in fundraising for watchdog NGOs is maintenance of independence and credibility. The opening presentation of the meeting addressed these two issues. This issue generated broad agreement by the meeting participants. With this in mind, potential funding sources were assessed on the basis of preserving independence and  ensuring credibility in the eyes of the public.

The main problem with associated with private foundations is their shift from the CEE region to the global south. A question was raised as to what these foundations could then do to help watchdog NGOs  survive without compromising their watchdog mission. One suggestion was to focus more on support to enable the development of independent financial strategies as opposed to supporting the watchdog activities per se. A further suggestion was for private foundations to play an active role in initiating and mediating new financial sources.

The role of the watchdog EU fund was discussed in the next section. The participants called for the continuation of these source in the future and for a larger budget for watchdog purposes generally in all EU funds. Participants were dissatisfied with conditions set by the EU Commission for the Commission managed financial programs such as LIFE+. This instrument is limits networking and cooperation and does not allow for effective watchdog monitoring work. The participants called for a more open process of adopting these conditions in the future. Strong criticism was leveled at EU Member States and the manner in which they spend structural funds without effective public monitoring and accountability mechanisms.

A lively discussion followed on the topic of corporate financial support for the watchdog NGOs. Here the independence and credibility issue is at its most visible and serious, and a major reason why watchdog NGOs generally do not accept corporate funding, even though it is one of the more quickly developing funding sources. As a solution, the launching of the special “watchdog fund” was suggested. This fund would be supported by different corporations, but the corporate donors would not have influence on the grant strategy or decisions about the specific grants.

Individual donations were mentioned as the least controversial funding sources for watchdog NGOs. Participants noted the relative financial independence and influence of NGOs with membership bases in the hundreds or thousands. A strong belief was generally by the for a that watchdog activities can  attract positive publicity even in “competition” with less controversial topics such as abused children or handicapped people. Private foundational support in the establishment and development of individual donation programs of watchdog NGOs was seen as one practical measure to ensure financial stability for NGOs who engage in this of this special type of work.

Another potential way towards financial independence and stability of the watchdog NGOs were social enterprises driven by watchdog NGOs. The discussion was devoted to the topic of mission-related or mission-unrelated self-financing strategies.

Finally, the public lottery was discussed as a special funding source for NGOs. This is potentially very significant, but its development will demand a resource intensive investment.

About the Newsletter

This is the final of four “Watchdog” newsletters. Please visit www.watchdog.eps.cz to access all four Newsletters and all other Watchdog project outputs.

This Newsletter was prepared as part of the project "From local to global heroes - NGO networking and project incubation in New Member States" implemented by Environmental Law Service. The project is financed by European Commission through program „Support of civil society in the Member States which acceded to the EU on 1st May 2004“. The sole responsibility for the project outputs lies with Environmental Law Service, the Commission is not responsible for any use of the opinions or information contained here. 


News

Second European Pro Bono Forum / May 10, 2008

 The Public Interest Law Institute (PILI) is pleased to announce that it will host the second annual European Pro Bono Forum in Budapest, Hungary at the Mercure Budapest Buda Hotel  on 6-7 November 2008. This year’s event will bring together over two hundred lawyers, NGOs, and academics to explore emerging trends in pro bono law across continental Europe. More information on the PILI webpage

Legislative opportunities for the EU to improve corporate accountability / May 28, 2008

 After comprehensive legal research and by advancing some of the European Parliaments’ recommendations of its resolution on CSR, European Coalition for Corporate Justice together with MEPs, lawyers, and representatives of the civil society, has presented a range of proposals that aim at strengthening EU legislation to provide greater accountability for EU companies when acting abroad at a conference at the European Parliament in B russels.  More information on the web of the ECCJ

“Smart regulation” Conference on corporate accountability / March 10, 2008

After comprehensive legal research and by advancing some of the European Parliaments’ recommendations of its resolution on CSR, ECCJ together with MEPs, lawyers, and representatives of the civil society, will present a range of proposals that aim at strengthening EU legislation to provide greater accountability for EU companies when acting abroad. More information can be found on the ECCJ webpage.

Justice and Environment watchdog reports / January 10, 2008

Justice and Environment Network prepared analysis, case studies and position papers on its members monitoring of EU environmental legislation in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and Poland. The issues covered include Aarhus Convention and related legislation, Environmental Liability Directive (ELD), Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC) and Natura 2000. The general conclusion is, that the major problems in all areas are transposition to national legislation and actual implementation of the legislation. In some cases there are other issues as well.

Meeting with donors presentation / December 18, 2007

The presentations made by keynote speakers during the “Who will feed the watchdog” meeting were added to the webpage. You can find them in the “Meeting with donors” section.

Sharing pro bono ideas in Brussels / December 17, 2007

“Justice in a globalised economy: What can lawyers do?“ was the name of a two-day conference that took place in Brussels, Belgium 13th - 14th of December this year. Thanks to support of the watchdog incubator project one young Czech lawyer was able to take part in this event and bring new experience.
The meeting, held by the Belgian organisation Avocats Sans Frontiéres (www.asf.be), was aimed to bring together scholars, practicing lawyers and NGOs representatives for sharing their experience in current global legal issues.

News Archive

Contact

Viteslav Dohnal
Watchdog Project Coordinator

Environmental Law Service
Prevratilska 330
390 01 Tabor
Czech Republic

phone: +420 381 253 904
email: tabor@eps.cz