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Public Associations and Civic Initiatives in Belarus: Participation Potential

July 2020

Reliable data on civic activism, on attitude towards civil organizations and initiatives, on readiness to participate in their activities is an essential element in the development of strategies, action plans and project proposals of public organizations and civic initiatives.

The issue of factors determining civic activism is the focus of the survey "Public Associations and Citizens Initiatives: Participation Potential", conducted in 2019 by the Baltic Internet Policy Initiative (BIPI) and the Office of European Expertise and Communications (OEEC). The purpose of the survey is to “measure” (1) awareness and involvement of citizens in activities of public organizations and initiatives; (2) potential for participation in their activities. The survey involved 1434 respondents., 71 % of whom (1018 citizens) know about the activities of public organizations and civic initiatives in their locality and or region.

The survey has shown:

  • promising potential: the share of respondents who are ready to take part in activities of public organizations and civic initiatives is three times larger compared to the share of those who are already involved in their activities.
  • the highest participation potential is among the residents of rural areas and small towns aged 15- 24,
  • voluntary participation prevails though 24,2% of respondents answered that they participate in civic activities because their managers/authorities make them do so,
  • lack of information: 71% of respondents know about the activities of public organizations and civic initiatives in their locality and/or region, but 72% of them would like to know more,
  • prospects for building confidence: 11% of the respondents fully trust public organizations and civic initiatives, and 69% of respondents have a positive attitude to such activities,
  • degree of satisfaction with the activities of public organizations and civic initiatives: 55% of respondents believe that public organizations should solve local problems, but only 33% say that they actually do so,
  • main criteria for judgment and evaluation of the activities of public organizations and civic initiatives: personal participation in events and information in social networks,
  • main motives for participation: interesting projects, shared values, desire to help others, clear goals of organizations and initiatives,
  • main barriers for participation: lack of awareness about opportunities for participation and lack of resources (time and competencies),
  • most in-demand areas of activities: ecology, human rights, healthy lifestyle, social services, culture; but only ecology, healthy lifestyle, and human rights are among the five areas of activity in which respondents are likely to take part,
  • formal membership in public organizations without active participation in their activities remains a serious challenge,
  • the range of activities of the organizations of the “third sector” does not correspond to the perceptions of the respondents about the needed civil society activities and their readiness to participate in currently available activities.
To realize the potential, the following is needed:
  • better inform the public about the goals, values and specific projects of organizations and initiatives,
  • take into account the need to develop strategies aimed at building trust in civil activism,
  • actively participate in solving specific problems of local communities,
  • connect action plans with the agendas of new social movements (ecology, human rights, healthy lifestyles, etc.) both to attract supporters and to compensate for inconsistency between the thematic spectrum of the “third sector” organizations, perceptions of the relevance of civic activism and readiness to participate in such activities,
  • to consider and use the opportunities of developing action plans for increasing civil activism, taking into account the data disaggregated by gender, age, education, employment and type of settlement.
Analytical report in English and in Russian

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