From Democracy Defenders to Foreign Agents?

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) constitute an important and integral part of our societies. However, while trying to pursue their missions, aims and goals NGOs often encounter obstacles that have a significant impact on their activities. These are created by both external and internal factors, with the former usually heavily affecting the latter. This is especially the case for organisations dedicated to fighting against or raising awareness about disinformation.

GLOBSEC's Countering Disinformation in the V4 and the Balkan Region: Mapping Needs, Building Capacity, and Generating Civic Activism - a project supported by the US Department of State - mapped the communication needs and deficiencies of civil society organisations in eight countries to determine those gaps and obstacles which have the greatest impact on their activities.

Our findings helped us to fully grasp what is needed at the level of civil society actors in terms of more effective communication and outreach. In doing so, we also hope to provide potential donors with a clearer picture of what is needed in terms of future funding.

The main findings of the report are:

  • Donors should dedicate more resources to the training and capacity-building of NGOs. Financial resources aside, most lack human capacity and are often dependent on volunteers.
  • Due to a high fluctuation of staff and almost constant lack of human resources, the transfer of know how is often a key missing component. Organisations should thus be helped with and dedicate time to develop guidelines for their successors, especially when it comes to crisis management and the development of basic promotion and PR guidelines.
  • Organisations generally lack a communication strategy that enables guide to reach key audiences.
  • The power of networks is underestimated and the activities of organisations concentrating on similar issues could be better coordinated if stronger ties were established in the respective countries or regions. Similarly, there is still a potential to develop networks with private companies interested in these issues while linking it with corporate and strategic relations activities.