Alexander Elatontsev: Penza region non-profit field improving in quality
Penza, 17 September 2015. PenzaNews. The non-profit field of the Penza region is improving in terms of quality, according Alexander Elatontsev, acting head of Internal Policy and Mass Communications Department of the Penza region, who expressed his opinion on the report on civil activism in the Penza region presented by Oleg Sharipkov, executive director of Civil Union foundation, on September 17 during a PenzaNews agency press conference.
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“Civil Union, one of the most long-running charity foundations of the Penza region, did serious expert work on analyzing the level and the development potential of the Third Sector in our region. I am sure the report deserves attention from both the authorities and the society,” stressed the official, adding that certain points in the document need to be clarified.
In particular, Alexander Elatontsev did not agree with the conclusion drawn by the authors of the report that activity of non-profit organizations (NPOs) and civil communities peaked in 2012-2013 and is currently in serious decline.
“The contents of this very report only confirms the decline in activity of civil communities, while official statistics for the region shows the NPO field has transitioned from quantitative to qualitative growth. This also results in increasing professional level of NPOs – numbers of obtained regional and federal grants, growing NPO staff, improved quality of social campaigns. Moreover, the report contains no analysis for the dynamics of Penza region-registered charity fund and foundation activity, a parameter traditionally classified as one of the indicators of the actual civil society situation. From 2011 to 2014, the numbers of charity funds and foundations in our region grew from 87 to 114, or by 24%, and total funds they amassed increased from 8.9 million to 16.7 million rubles, by 53%,” elaborated the acting head of the Internal Policy and Mass Communications Department in the Penza region, using available information.
He also pointed out that such organizations begin to form their endowment capital in the region, which he called another positive development trend for the local voluntary sector.
“The presence of such capital in the Penza region is a macroeconomic indicator for the Ministry of Economic Development relevant to development of infrastructure for socially oriented non-profit organizations (SO NPOs),” Alexander Elatontsev said.
Moreover, he noted that information on socially oriented NPOs needs to be correlated with the official Penza region SO NPO roster freely available in the “Non-Profit Organizations” section on the website of the regional government.
“Free access to this information facilitates the openness and transparency of the NPO grant allocation system, and allows for analysis and evaluation of activities of state authorities during the preparation for such reports as the one published by Civil Union. The SO NPO roster for the Penza region contains information on the NPOs who received support from the executive authorities as of 2012. At present, this roster contains 270 records of financial, material and other support of the Third Sector,” Alexander Elatontsev pointed out.
He also said he thinks information on activity, place and role of civil communities in the society that was included in the report by Civil Union might have been somewhat exaggerated.
“Analysis of hobby groups or interest groups that transformed into civil communities is impossible to do using only their social network subscriber bases. The authors of the report themselves admit ‘there is no actual objective information on the numbers of civil communities in Penza and the region, and especially when it comes to numbers of people in them.’ One must realize that civil communities often aim to implement their ideas in a creative and unusual fashion, rather than to provide services to the people in the civil field,” explained the head of the department.
Also, according to him, increased efficiency of NPO subsidy allocation procedures, described in the report in detail, is first of all related to a paradigm shift in the regional state grant support policy towards providing social services to the public and encourage competition in the socially oriented sector.
“While in no way belittling the grand analysis of the state of the civil community in the Penza region completed by Civil Union, I nevertheless find it regretful that the 2015 report contains no expert advice for the state authorities, even though the earlier report published in 2012 gave the Third Sector experts an opportunity to speak their mind. I hope the future reports will contain both opinions and suggestions,” Alexander Elatontsev added.