Civic Initiative Fund
Department of Public Benefit

The Problem

The discussion over the Act of law on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work was focused on both legal aspects – regulations concerning civic sector and relations with public administration, and financial and educational at the same time. In institutional sense, there are provisions concerning rules and forms of inter-sectorial cooperation enclosed, accompanied by the institution of civic dialogue – the Public Benefit Works’ Council. Another instrument introduced was the mechanism of donating 1% of the personal income tax to Public Benefit Organizations – a category of non-governmental organizations with both certain privileges and obligations. After passing the Act, there was made a decision to create an additional instrument for other entities acting in the 3rd sector, with a view of achieving symmetry in the sector in question. The status of the instrument – in the form of a fund – was under discussion. There was a special fund considered, however finally a fund from a purpose reserve in the form of governmental long-term programme was agreed.
The results of research on the condition of civil society in Poland, measured by the commonness of federating, dynamics of common actions, participation in self-governmental elections and other manifestations of social activity, clearly indicated, that there is serious shortage and barriers in its development.
In order to change this situation there was considered a possibility of creating a fund aimed on stimulating local initiatives.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
There was a special fund considered, however finally a fund from a purpose reserve in the form of governmental long-term programme was agreed. With a view of testing how long-term are the actions undertaken by organisations, there were also long-term projects allowed that go beyond financial year.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The choice of that solution was initiated by the Minister competent for Social Security, who is in charge of the public benefit area, in consultation with the Public Benefit Works’ Council.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The initiative of the Civic Initiatives Fund from the very beginning was based on superior documents. Governmental Programme ‘Civic Initiatives Fund’ was generally focused on stimulation and reinforcement of civic initiatives by actions complementary to the existing solutions and practices in the area in question. In the long-term perspective it was intended to include the Fund in the process of creating of The National Strategy for the Development of the Non-governmental Sector, correlated with The National Strategy for Social Inclusion, National Action Plan on Social Inclusion, within the framework of national Development Plan.
Implementing PO FIO is linked with Strategia Rozwoju Kraju, the document defining the basic contingents goals and directions of country’s development in social and economic aspect. This is a crucial document and a reference point for other strategies, as well as governmental and self-governmental programmes.
Another strategic document that should be mentioned is Strategia Wspierania Rozwoju Społeczeństwa obywatelskiego na lata 2009-2015 (SWRSO). It is a sectorial strategy created as a long-term document and aimed at supporting development of civil society in Poland. SWRSO as well as based on it PO FIO shall be an instrument of development policy in the area of civil activities of local communities and consolidating civil society structures.
Both main and specific goals of PO FIO as well as its priorities and scheduled activities derive from SWRSO. These are means of achieving its objectives - i.e. strengthening subjective role of citizens and their communities, creating proper environment for development of civil society institutions.
Morover, other strategic document, Narodowe Strategiczne Ramy Odniesienia na lata 2007-2003 (NRSO) as an instrument setting out a framework for Polish cohesion policy, can be treated as a reference point for preparing the OP FIO operational programme.
Krajowy Program Reform for the years 2005-2008 is a document presenting activities which Polish Government is going to perform within this period to achieve the objectives of renewed Lisbon Strategy. The PO FIO is coherent with these activities.
Other document coherent with PO FIO is Krajowy Plan Działań na Rzecz Integracji Społecznej, a working plan for social integration. The Annex to this document recognizes the predecessor of PO FIO, the FIO programme implemented in the years 2005-2007 as an example of best practices in the area of social integration. Krajowy Plan Działań na Rzecz Integracji Społecznej is one of the three parts of Krajowy Program „Zabezpieczenie Społeczne i Integracja Społeczna” 2006-2008. PO FIO continues the above mentioned activities in the area of social integration.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
At the first beginning of the whole initiative there was the Governmental log-term Program - Civic Initiatives Fund for the period 2005-2007. The program played the role of the financial instrument assisting the process of building the civil society. It was also seemed as a kind of expression of the attention connected with the civil activity as well as the need of empowerment of the third sector in general. Its horizontal dimension, referring to the each sphere of the public benefit, confirmed the great diversity of the third sector considering not only the main goals, mission and the experience, but also the internal capability of the non-governmental organizations. Based on the Program, the Ministry annually accepted the document called “The fundamental directions of the Government activities in the area of the Governmental log-term Program - Civic Initiatives Fund in 2005”
In connection with the closure of the three-years Civic Initiatives Fund Programme on 31st December 2007 and its continuation in 2008 in form of purpose reserves in the State budget as the Civic Initiatives Fund, also with interest of not-for-profit organizations to participate in this venture, its justified by the need for continuation of the main objectives of the Civic Initiatives Fund Operational Programme.
Under the provisions of the Act Law of 6 December 2006 on the principles of development policy over the specific area as well as the experience gained through implementation of the Programme and its continuation - Civil Initiatives Fund in 2008, established the Operational Programme for Civil Initiatives Fund for the period 2009-2013 (PO FIO).
PO FIO continues in its assumptions of the main objectives of the Programme FIO and the FIO 2008, and at the same time, by correlating with the Development Strategy for 2007-2015 and SWRSO, a tool of development policy in the evolution of pro-social behavior and building of local communities and the strengthening of social society.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Elementary barriers:

a)Experience barriers – barriers of the innovation of the solution. The barriers were partially offset by previously acquired experience during the implementation of projects, as a PHARE.

b)Absorption barriers - lack of experience of the organizations applying for funds. Barriers appear because of the adoption of new approaches to the distribution of resources. Barriers were mitigated through systematic training, information campaigns, conferences and via the website. At the time FIO was received as some kind of brand.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Originally, the implementation of the FIO initiative was exclusively supported by resources of the Department of Public Benefit, however it was accomplish by the harm of other tasks. Experience has identified the need to endow resources of team by experts - people who have experience in this subject and an additional operator, who will take over some tasks like the implementation and execution of the program. It was decided to extract the resources to service so called technical assistance. At that time, the Department may take action concerning the implementation of partial evaluation of the program, the tasks associated with monitoring the implementation of individual projects.

The amount of funds was initially set at 30 million PLN (around 10 millions USA). After positive evaluation of the initiative measures were increased to 60 million PLN, and in 2009 for this purpose, the phase of the project was planned to allocate up to 90 million PLN (around 30 million USD).

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Yes - FIO is sustainable and transferable:

a) at the regional level there are concepts in local government construction program in the formula of regional components,

b) FIO has become a good practice for the creators of procedures another initiatives such as the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, Swiss Mechanism. FIO was also the inspiration for the assumptions of the implementation of Human Capital Operational ProgramSince the beginning of the initiative, regardless of the formula, it was assumed that it will be permanent.

c)Program is characterized to be sequential, each subsequent stage of its implementation resulted from the experience of the previous stages. Drawing from experiences it is planned after completion of the Operational Programme to implement long-term sustainable program, using the reformulation of the

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
a) The initiative became a "proving ground" for the organizations that are learning how to apply for various grants available in the market, such as structural funds,

b) Implementation of the Programme helped revitalization of an innovative way of thinking about problems and how to resolve them. There have been initiatives that owing to the support of the FIO found the local partner in the implementation of public tasks.

c) The horizontal nature of the program increased the availability of funds for civic society's organizations.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Department of Public Benefit
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Marta Zolendowska
Title:   Specialist  
Telephone/ Fax:   +48 22 661-11-46
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   1/3/5 Nowogrodzka Street
Postal Code:   00-513
City:   Warsaw
Country:   Poland

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