In 2015, the Institute of Baltic Studies carried out the impact assessment of the Swiss NGO Fund, commissioned by the National Foundation of Civil Society (NFCS).

The Swiss NGO Fund is a measure implemented by the NFCS from 2011 to 2015 that supported the development of a) social services that NGOs and their public sector partners would offer in cooperation and b) services that prevented and alleviated social problems. Secondary goals of the Fund were to strengthen cooperation between the public and the third sector, improve the availability and quality of public services and to contribute to improving social cohesion and creating a healthy living environment. The aim of the impact assessment was to determine if the activities described in the business plans funded by the Fund between 2011 and 2014 were sustainable and relevant to the set goals and what is the impact and outcome of the measure.

The assessment focused on the 62 social service projects that were implemented with the Fund’s funding. The assessment involved interviews and consultations by the implementers of the Fund, relevant public sector representatives, project managers and partners, area experts and also NGO-s who had applied for but had not received funding.

The assessment reveals that over the aforementioned time period, the Fund has contributed significantly into developing the cooperation between the public and the third sector and therefore filled a gap that was previously present regarding this cooperation. The implementation of the measure and the activities of the funded projects were relevant. Both the outcomes and the potential influences of the measure on the development of the area were positive. However, important weaknesses revealed by the assessment include poor marketing of the developed social services and a continuing need to improve awareness of the possibilities and means of cross-sectoral cooperation, especially among local governments.

As a result, similar funding schemes that do not set strict limits on eligible project activities and allow for complex approaches should be considered in the future as well. This would also encourage the creation of innovative services. It is likely that sustainable and successful projects such as those funded would not be possible without external funding, which makes it important to explore means of continuing to foster positive cross-sectoral cooperation experiences in providing public services.

Research team: Merit Tatar, Maiu Uus, Maarja Käger, Andra Somelar, Pille Ubakivi-Hadachi, Kats Kivistik, Kertu Aruoja

The assessment was funded by the National Foundation of Civil Society (NFCS) and the Swiss NGO Fund.