Successful Completion of the Regional Sustainability Academy

From April 20 to 22, 2021, Trag hosted an online Regional Sustainability Academy, gathering civil society organizations from the Western Balkans region. These organizations were previously a part of the national Sustainability Academies, conducted through the SIGN network partners in five countries during 2019.

The Sustainability Academy program aims to help the civil society organizations build partnerships with the new donors, improve their long-term financial planning and sustainability by increasing visibility and impact in the communities in which they operate. In the regional part of the program, 32 organizations from five Western Balkan countries took part, gaining the opportunity to learn more about fundraising using traditional and innovative fundraising approaches, know-how on how to empower fundraisers inside and outside their teams, with special attention paid to developing relationships with potential and existing donors, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that significantly impacted community living and the way CSOs approached volunteers and mobilized resources. The program was led by Jolan van Herwaarden from the Netherlands, with the guest lecturers Robert Osborne (USA), Corinne Hartmann (The Netherlands) and Jillian Stewart (The Netherlands).

The Regional Sustainability Academy covered topics such as creating the Call for support, Online fundraising, Strategic approach to fundraising, Analysis of available fundraising techniques, distance learning and P2P fundraising. Organizations that successfully raised funds for their activities during the previous phase of the program gained additional knowledge needed to continue these efforts and achieve greater sustainability of their associations in the future.

This activity is carried out by the SIGN network, consisting of the Trag Foundation (Serbia), the MOZAIK Foundation (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Fund for Active Citizenship – fAKT (Montenegro), Forum for Civic Initiatives – FIQ (Kosovo), HORUS (Northern Macedonia) and the Catalyst Balkans (Serbia). The event was held with the financial support of the European Union, Balkan Fund for Democracy, Balkan Network for Civil Society Development – BCSDN and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency – SIDA.

Signs of Change – Celebrating 10 Years of SIGN Network

SIGN Network celebrated its 10th anniversary by organizing the SIGNs of CHANGE, a one-day event in the Philanthropy House in Brussels. During the event that was hosted by the European Foundation Centre (EFC) and its CEO Gerard Salole, participants had an opportunity to discuss the context for philanthropy development in the Western Balkans region and the ways it addresses the shrinking space for civil society in these countries. Representatives of Trag Foundation from Serbia, Fund for Active Citizenship from Montenegro, Mozaik Foundation from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Forum for Civic Initiatives from Kosovo, HORUS from North Macedonia and Catalyst Balkans from Serbia discussed how they support the non-profits in their countries to mobilize citizens, build trust in their communities and generate social changes. During the event, the representatives of the SIGN Network also opened an exhibition highlighting their most important milestones and the general public will be able to visit it free of charge in the Philanthropy House, Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 17:30 until November 30th, 2019.

Regional conference “Philanthropy and Civil Society: Acting for the Common Good”

The conference “Philanthropy and Civil Society: Acting for the Common Good”, organized by Fund for Active Citizenship – fAKT and regional SIGN Network that gathers the largest indigenous grant makers in the region, was held in Podgorica, Montenegro on November 22, 2016 with the aim to define the key prerequisites for building a more favorable environment for development of philanthropy in the region. 

With this conference the SIGN network marked the closure of the four year “SIGN for Sustainability” program that was conducted in 6 countries of the region. During this project, network members were mostly working on promotion and development of local philanthropy and models for more sustainable and transparent work of civil society. The conference conclusions will serve as a base for development of a regional Declaration that would additionally define all necessary steps to be taken on all levels, in order to increase support to civil sector and development of philanthropy in the region and all respective partner countries. 

The conference has gathered representatives of civic sector, business and public sector, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia in order to contribute to better cooperation and dialogue on institutional frame and alternatives for more sustainable funding and work of civil society organizations.

Regional Sustainability Academy in Zlatibor, Serbia

At the beginning of July 2015, representatives of 25 CSOs from five countries of the region (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo) gathered for the Regional Sustainability Academy in Zlatibor (Serbia), to learn and discuss the advanced methods of ensuring long term sustainability through development of individual and corporate philanthropy in their local communities. The training was organized by SIGN Network within the “SIGN for Sustainability” project and supported by the European Union and Balkan Trust for Democracy.

During this five day training, participants gained advanced know-how on fundraising, communications, social entrepreneurship and long term financial planning needed to secure a larger and a more lengthy support for their program activities. On the final day of the event, representatives of these organizations were divided into thematic groups with an aim to apply this knowledge and skills in practice. Each group devised a case study for support that was presented to a distinguished jury in a form of a competition. Members of the jury were Andrea Brbaklic (Erste bank Serbia), Eleonora Albijanic (Electric company, Montenegro), Faris Njemcevic (VGT Insurance, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Veran Matic (Fund B92, Serbia). Prior to announcing the winning team, members of the jury provided a detail feedback and valuable advice to all participants regarding fundraising from companies and individuals in the communities where they work.

Special guest of the Academy was Otar Makarashvilli from US-based organization Bolder Giving who provided an insight into the importance of non-profit storytelling and long term donor cultivation. His story about the Academy will be published on this website shortly.

In the upcoming 6 months, based on this newly acquired knowledge and skills, participants will design and implement their fundraising campaigns looking to raise a minimum of 4000 EUR from local sources that will be matched by SIGN Network partners. All the funds that these CSOs raise and receive in a form of a matching grant will be used to implement their community development initiatives as well as the continuation of their fundraising campaigns, ensuring that they diversify their sources of funding and become more sustainable long term.


SIGN Network Launches a Video to Promote the Results of Sustainability Academy

In the summer of 2014 SIGN network recorded stories of 5 organizations that participated in the Sustainability Academy program. A video “A good SIGN” was filmed with desire to promote experience civil society organizations gained during the process of fund raising in local communities where they operate. It also presents the results of this program – 52 organizations have raised 92.000 Euro for realization of projects that benefit to entire community. We have recorded stories on successful initiatives from Nikšić, Simin Han, Obilić, Debar and Vrnjačka banja, with support of production house Ciklotron.

All the funds that were raised were doubled by SIGN network members – Trag Foundation (Serbia), Foundation Mozaik (BiH), Fund for Active Citizenship fAKT (Montenegro), Center for Institutional Development – CIRa (Macedonia) and Forum for Civic Initiatives – FIQ (Kosovo), through matching donations that were given to the most successful 34 organizations in the maximum amount of 3000 Eur. During 2013-2014, through this program, organizations have received educational and financial support to raise funds from individuals and companies in their local communities. The program Sustainability Academy is conducted within the project “SIGN for Sustainability” which is financially supported by European Union and Balkan Trust for Democracy. Check the video at the following link:

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Table of Contents

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Forum for Civic Initiatives – FIQ (Kosovo)
Fund for Active Citizenship – fAKT (Montenegro)
Mozaik Foundation (BiH)
Trag Foundation (Serbia)
Catalyst Foundation (Serbia)
HORUS (North Macedonia)