Bulgaria Closed 2011 with 34 000 Registered NGOs - Study
Bulgaria ranks among the countries with the lowest share of volunteers, with only 5% of the population claiming to volunteer time, according to the World Giving Index 2011 of the Charities Aid Foundation.
The statistics was presented at a press conference on Monday by the Bulgarian Center for Not-For-Profit Law (BCNL).
According to the BCNL, the majority of NGOs in Bulgaria still lack the necessary knowledge and skills to make efficient use of volunteer work.
The BCNL reports a deterioration in NGO sustainability in 2011.
Despite the fact that Bulgaria has over 200 strategies in different spheres, the country lacks an official policy for cooperation with the civil sector.
Mirela Toteva, advisor of EU Funds Minister Tomislav Donchev, explained that the Council of Ministers would adopt a strategy for the development of NGOs by end-July.
She argued that the cooperation between the NGO sector and the state was possible, adding that there was no efficient state without a functioning civil society.
Toteva noted that Bulgaria's accession to the EU had placed citizens and NGOs in the new situation of having to find their rightful place in policy development.
The expert defined civil society as the most accurate indicator of governance.
According to BCNL, the 2012 state budget crisis erased funding for competitions for granting financial resources to NGOs for the implementation of socially beneficial projects.
BCNL highlights that the above decision was taken without consultations with the sector.
The Bulgarian NGO notes that for yet another year in a row no money has been allocated under EU structural funds to support civil society capacity-building and development.
BCNL states that over 34 000 NGOs have been registered in Bulgaria, the majority of them being associations.
BCNL notes, however, that the number of newly registered NGOs in Bulgaria decreases each year.
BCNL's study concludes that Bulgarian NGOs are operating in a comparatively favorable environment, but the crisis is taking its toll on the sector.
The experts say that an increasing number of NGOs have concentrated their efforts on surviving, rather than on strengthening their organizational capacity.
BCNL informs that a large number of NGOs have stopped functioning, the majority of them based in rural areas.
BCNL notes that an increasing number of NGOs lack a full-time staff and rely on project-based employees due to insufficient funding.
The experts at BCNL stress that the NGO sector in Bulgaria is plagued by a severe financial crisis, funding is hard to find and there are no meaningful revenues from the EU.
Bulgarian NGOs only rely on social projects to tap EU funding.
BCNL underscores that no money has been allocated for institutional development of NGOs under the Administrative Capacity operational program for a third year in a row.
The number of trainings for Bulgarian NGOs drops in 2011.
The experts add that Bulgarian NGOs came up with a number of legal initiatives in 2011, including amendments to the Election Code, but their lobbying efforts did not lead to significant results.