In December 2012, SIGN Network started with the implementation of the project entitled SIGN for Sustainability. This project, funded by the European Union and the Balkan Fund for Democracy was aiming to ensure significant support of citizens for civil society initiatives by creating a more favorable environment for philanthropy development, giving for public good and fundraising in local communities, thus contributing towards more sustainable civil society organizations with stronger impact on the democratization processes in the Western Balkans region.
Within the project activities that were implemented till February 2017, special attention was placed on advocacy for legislative changes, leading towards instigating greater corporate and individual giving, adoption of standards for transparency and accountability in fundraising for civil society organizations, promotion of national and regional cooperation in development of local philanthropy and establishment of the first regional Sustainability Academy that provided trainings and matching grants to organizations to successfully fundraise from local sources for initiatives of relevance for their respective communities.
Since March 2018 SIGN has been implementing SIGN Up for Impact, three and a half-year regional EU-funded project which main objectives include further development of enabling environment for philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, promotion of strategic giving and provision of support to civil society initiatives among citizens, businesses and public institutions as well as building knowledge and infrastructure in the region, for increased financial sustainability of CSOs and effective engagement of citizens in decision-making processes.
Partners engaged on several levels to achieve the planned results and early concrete outcomes:
Developing Legal and Fiscal Framework for Philanthropy Development
In order to contribute to further development of the enabling environment for philanthropy and corporate social responsibility in four countries of the region, SIGN partners set to conduct comprehensive national advocacy campaigns in four out of five partner countries. Thus far, SIGN members produced relevant policy analysis and drafted concrete policy documents that are to be submitted to relevant institutions upon finalization. They also used every opportunity to strengthen ties and build networks with numerous stakeholders – representatives of public, business and civil sector, as well as to promote their advocacy goals to the wider public, to ensure their attainment.
Promotion of Philanthropy
To promote strategic giving and provision of support to civil society initiatives among citizens, businesses and public institutions, SIGN Network members set to implement a number of philanthropy-related awareness-raising activities among the general public. With this in mind, the partners developed a communication strategy and a communication plan detailing promotional activities at national, regional and EU levels throughout the project duration. They also published and promoted the Regional Comparative Analysis based on the findings of the Public Opinion Survey on Philanthropy conducted in 2018 in all five partner countries. Partners also conducted their national awards for philanthropy, securing 277 media announcements promoting philanthropy and examples of good practice, organized the SIGNs of CHANGE event in Brussels marking the 10th anniversary of SIGN Network, as well as numerous national level events gathering over 835 participants in total.
SIGN is strongly committed towards building of knowledge and infrastructure in the region for increased financial sustainability of CSOs and effective engagement of citizens in decision-making processes, the applicants continued to implement a multi-level capacity building activity complemented with sub-granting in all five implementing countries. SIGN Network members awarded 47 grass-root CSOs from the whole region with technical grants, upon which they conducted their fundraising campaigns and implement activities in their local communities raising nearly 163.000 EUR in total from local businesses and individuals, which were matched with the total of 131.000 by the SIGN partners.
The SIGN for Philanthropy Education and Promotion (SIGN 4 PEP) project, funded by the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) that began in January 2021, has the main objective to enhance the impact of civil society in policy and decision making processes in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia and contributing to civil society greater financial sustainability, independence and legitimacy. During the course of this 10-month project, the SIGN partners will join their efforts to build knowledge and infrastructure in the region for increased financial sustainability of CSOs and effective engagement of citizens in decision-making processes and to promote strategic giving and provision of support to civil society initiatives among citizens, businesses and public institutions.
Forum for Civic Initiatives – FIQ (Kosovo)
Fund for Active Citizenship – fAKT (Montenegro)
Mozaik Foundation (BiH)
Trag Foundation (Serbia)
Catalyst Foundation (Serbia)
HORUS (North Macedonia)