The aim of the impact evaluation of the Civil Society Development Plan 2015-2020, commissioned by the Government Office Strategy Unit and the Ministry of the Interior, was to map the development of the NGO’s operational environment and to provide input for the development of civil society based on the assessment of the KODAR 2015-2020 targets.

To do this, an impact evaluation was carried out, which included document analysis, personal and focus group interviews (7 officials, 33 experts and 19 NGOs were interviewed) and a survey of NGOs (1121 associations). The survey questionnaire covered thematic areas such as community background data, the organization of internal activities and management structures, cooperation with different parties, participation in third sector development and funding mechanisms.

The results of the survey showed that the non-profit sector in Estonia is sustainable, but still needs continued support to ensure balanced development of NGOs and civil society. Attention should be paid to ensuring lifelong learning in civic education and supporting activities that promote local democracy.

According to the survey, the share of NGOs earning income has increased from 49% to 57% compared to 2013. The decline in the share of NGOs with paid labor has stopped, but the share of associations involving volunteers has decreased. Similarly to most European countries, the membership of NGOs in Estonia has also decreased.

Amongst society-based activities, NGOs have the most experience in promoting local life (66%), in the field of media (42%), and in protecting the interests of target groups and members (38%). The evaluation mapped the greatest development needs of civil society and taking into account the goals and the current situation of the analyzed areas of KODAR, made suggestions to improve the situation. The following development needs and recommendations are fully outlined in the final impact evaluation report:

  • Ambiguity of the roles of parties influencing the development of civil society and lack of cooperation
  • Decreasing human resources of NGOs and lack of cooperation
  • Civil education and local democracy
  • NGO interest protection capability
  • The ability of the state to involve interest organizations and NGOs
  • Tools for participation and involvement in policy-making
  • Strategic partnership
  • Provision of public services, social innovation and social entrepreneurship
  • Access to finance, transparency and organization of funding
  • Counseling and ERDP activities
  • Connections in the russian working language
  • NFCS as a support organization for civil society organizations
  • Structure and metrics of KODAR operational programme

The problem areas identified in the study, which should be addressed by NGOs, private companies, local governments, national authorities, educational institutions, and ordinary people to help further develop civil society, can be broadly divided into two categories:

  • Capability and capability building
  • Awareness and awareness raising, including civic education

Through civic education, we must also raise awareness of the roles of the various parties in civil society and raise awareness of the value of NGOs in society.

The impact assessment was funded by the Operational Programme for Cohesion Policy Funds, 2014-2020, priority axis 12 “Administrative capacity”, action 12.2 “Development of quality of policy-making”.

The KODAR 2015-2020 Impact Assessment report will be published in the coming days.