Toolkit of GOOD PRACTICES on Citizen Participation!


NGO Center


Country: Macedonia

Context

In the past 10 years, within the activities for institutional development of Macedonian NGOs, several donors have contributed to the implementation of local development initiatives through NGO support centers in various cities in Republic of Macedonia such as Veles, Prilep, Stip and Kicevo, funded by the Swiss agency for Development. At that time a national policy was adopted for cooperation and support of civil society through the approval of a National Strategy and Action Plan for cooperation and support of associations and foundations for the period 2012-2017. The City of Skopje established policies to strengthen the support and cooperation of NGOs and other foundations in its strategic documents: City of Skopje’s strategy for Cooperation with civil society for the period 2010-2013 and the revision of the Strategy and Action Plan for the period 2014-2016. These documents emphasized the need to strengthen the capacity of civil society through cooperation with other NGOs, local authorities, private sector and media. The NGO Center of the City of Skopje was established in 2009 with the main objective of helping associations and foundations in their work.

Measure

The NGO Centre provides logistical support, counseling, consultation, adequate training and grants that focus on:
Establishing partnerships between NGOs, NGO and local government, media and business sector
Involvement of NGOs in public policy creation
The NGO Centre also provides services with the ultimate goals of building coalitions, networking at local and national level, lobbying and advocating, supporting NGOs’ actions and initiatives, encouraging partnerships and preparing joint strategies with NGOs, local authorities and the business sector to address common problems of the community. The Center also focuses on the institutional strengthening of NGOs, on their development and on their sustainability. It directly provides free spaces for the associations and foundations to use: computer equipment, meetings office, room for training and presentations and professional assistance in registering the associations of citizens and in completing applications for projects.

Target Group

The target groups are associations of citizens and foundations within the territory of the City of Skopje, coalitions and networks of NGOs with their projects and activities.

Methodology

The measure is implemented through the following methods and tools:
www.skopje.gov.mk/nvo/ - ‘NGO Gate’ – portal for the needs of associations of citizens
Electronic register of associations of citizens and foundations
Leaflets sent electronically to all associations of citizens who are registered on the territory of the City of Skopje
NGO Forum of the City of Skopje
Meetings and direct contacts

Stakeholders

The role of the City of Skopje is to provide the best possible conditions for the action and cooperation of associations of citizens in all fields of social life of the city. The role of the associations is to give recommendations, opinions and suggestions in the field in which they operate. Therefore, in addition to the NGO Center of the City of Skopje a Forum of associations of citizens of the City of Skopje was also created.

Assessment

With this measure, the City of Skopje managed to help associations and foundations more easily and successfully to fulfill their strategic objectives. Through this, the City of Skopje proposes associations of citizens new ideas on a daily basis, thereby quickly detecting and then solving the problems of citizens.

Impact

The target group are associations of citizens, for which the NGO Center of the City of Skopje was intended in the first place. We believe this Center to be a very influential tool, and the numbers confirm this. Since 2009 more than 200 associations of citizens have registered at the NGO Center and have thus benefited from it. Monthly, in average 30 meetings, 20 workshops and 15 presentations are carried out.

Swot

1. Strengths (to measure features that provide an advantage over others):
It is available for all those who meet the basic requirements for using the NGO Center
2. Weaknesses (features due to which the measure was put in disadvantage in relation to others):
The working time of the NGO Center can be considered as a weakness, it is necessary that it functions after 5p.m. and on non-working days, too
3. Opportunities (features that the measure can achieve through its advantages):
Networking with same or similar centers on the territory of Skopje and other cities in the country. Furthermore, expanding of the offered services, introduction of volunteering in the Center's management and strengthening of its visibility.
4. Threats (elements in the environment that may cause obstacles for measure):
Reducing the budget for the functioning of the NGO Center in accordance with the policy to restrict spending of the City of Skopje.

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