USAID’s 2011 Sustainability Index Reveals Status of Civil Society Organizations in Europe and Eurasia

USAID recently published the 15th edition of its Civil Society Organization (CSO) Sustainability Index for Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Produced with the support of MSI technical experts, the index measures the overall strength and viability of organizations in 29 countries.

The index showed an increase in volunteerism among CSOs, after the European Union designated 2011 as the Year of Volunteering. Lithuania and Slovenia both adopted laws to formalize the practice of volunteering. Other countries, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Tajikistan, followed suit by drafting similar laws. Hungary indicated that an estimated 400,000 people volunteered a total of 53 million hours last year.

“Consistency in methodology gives an opportunity to analyze the status and the dynamics of the sector in each country and compare it across the region,” says MSI technical expert Svetlana Winbourne. “A study conducted a couple of years ago showed that the index report is widely used to bring stakeholder and public attention to the sector, to guide designing technical assistance programs by USAID and other donors. Domestic CSOs use the index to formulate national agendas in promoting and strengthening the sector.”

The index has been used for the last 15 years to annually monitor and assess sustainability of the civil society sector.

Many organizations relied on social media to galvanize the public. Nearly 100,000 Facebook users expressed their support for CSOs in Romania that sought to protect Rosia Montana, an area threatened by bad gold mining practices, under the UNESCO World Heritage Program.

The European economic situation impacted the civil society sector, with six countries decreasing on the sustainability index and only two improving.

Leaders gathered in Washington, DC last week, to discuss the Index at an event, Progress, Promise, and Peril: A Generation of Change for Civil Society in Europe and Eurasia.

Until 2011, the Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index was known as the Non-Governmental Organization Sustainability Index.

Learn more about the CSOSI and see USAID’s interactive map.

Click here to view the full report.

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