Frequently Asked Questions

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PARTNERSHIP GRANTS

1.  Where it says “purchase of equipment”, is it about equipment for the needs of the organization or for the needs of the project?

As for the “purchase of equipment”, they are considered inadmissible expenses for equipment for the needs of the organization. Whereas if other equipment is required, then they must be at the service of the initiative and for the use of the beneficiaries.

2. Please clarify if 20% co-financing is required within the amount or in addition to the grant?

It is required that at least 20% of the total budget be provided with co-financing in accordance with the call criteria. For example, if the total amount needed for the implementation of the initiative is 6,000 EUR, at least 1,200 EUR must be provided through co-financing, while for the rest of the amount support can be requested through a grant.

3. Can media companies, registered as private companies, also apply?

Media companies can be part of the partnership, but the main applicant and implementer must be an active NGO registered in Kosovo.

4. When is the deadline for applications for “Partnership Grants”?

The call for applications for “Partnership Grants” remains open while the evaluation of applications will be done on a quarterly basis.

ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

1.Can we apply for the organizational development grant even though we have not yet received the confirmation of the registration from the Department for NGOs?

One of the mandatory documents for this call is NGO registration certificate issued by the Department for NGOs. If you do not have this document before the application deadline, you cannot apply in this call and have to wait until the next call will be open.

2. Where can we find the application form?

All the information, including the necessary documents for the application, can be found on our website.

3. Will an information session be held for this type of grant?

The information session for organizational development grant will be held online on Monday at 10:00 am, 18.01.2021, and, in the meantime, the link to join the session will be available on our website www.kcsfoundation.org and on our page on Facebook https://bit.ly/3sr5fLJ.

4. Does the grant also include the purchase of equipment and staff training?

Yes, the grant may also provide the purchase of equipment and staff training, if it is considered that those type of expenses will help the organizational development and program goals of organization. Your application will be reviewed against the call criteria.

5. As a new organization, can we have your support in preparing the application?

All the necessary information to apply for organizational development grant, including application documents, can be found on our website, at this link: https://bit.ly/38YrQX9. We encourage you to review these documents, follow the application steps in detail and participate in the information session that will be held on Monday, 18.01.2021, at 10:00. The link of the information session will be published on our website and Facebook page.

6. When is the deadline for application?

The deadline for application for organizational development grant is 25.01.2021.

7. As a new organization, established in 2020, are we eligible to apply in this call? If yes, how should we address the request for financial reports for the last two years since we have not yet completed a full year?

Even though you are a new organization, you are eligible to apply. As a organization established recently, you can only send the financial statements for the period since you were established, therefore, the request for financial reports for the last two years does not apply in your case.

8. Does it play a role in the evaluation process if we have implemented only a few voluntary projects, but we did not have the opportunity to be a beneficiary of any grant?

Even though you have not been a beneficiary of any grant, this does not prevent you to apply in this call. Your application will be reviewed against the call criteria according to the application guideline.

9. For the annual financial statements or auditor’s reports, what years are calculated as last two years?

The last two years are calculated 2018 and 2019 as the deadline of the call is late January. But, in case you can submit the documents (auditor reports or financial statements) for 2020, then last two years are calculated as 2019 and 2020.

10. Are we eligible to apply for technical equipment that will directly affect the organizational development?

If you consider that the purchase of equipment will have a direct impact on the organizational development and the reasoning can be presented in the application documents, you can apply for technical equipment. Your application will be reviewed against the set criteria.

11. If we do not have an audit report, because we do not have the financial means to engage a company to audit our organization, does this prevents us from applying?

According to the rules set forth in the application guidelines, the annual financial statements or auditor’s reports for the last two (2) years must be submitted. So, in case you do not have the audit report, then you can submit the financial statements and then your application will be reviewed against the set criteria.

12. Is it allowed to purchase equipment abroad?

If you consider that the purchase of equipment will have a direct impact on the organizational development and the reasoning can be presented in the application documents, you can apply for technical equipment. In this case, you are advised to look the list of ineligible costs (such as Customs, VAT, etc.) for the equipment and software in case they are to be purchased outside Kosovo. Your application will be reviewed against the set criteria.

13. According to the application guidelines, the duration of the project is up to 24 months, what is the issue of duration if we buy equipment; do you monitor the project up to 24 months?

According to the application guidelines, the maximum duration of the grant for which the organization is allowed to apply is 24 months. Therefore, it is not necessary for the grant to last 24 months, yet  it is the  maximum possible duration. It depends on the needs of the organization and how the applicant organization envisages the planning of organizational development. We emphasize that not all expenses and activities should last throughout the entire duration of the grant, whereby this depends on their type.

14. If our aim is to work with women only, are we entitled to apply if we do not meet gender equality?

The EJA Kosovo program aims to ensure that supported interventions take into account the gender aspect, aiming at gender equality and taking care not to contribute to harmful stereotypes. Hence, as long as your work addresses this aspect in line with the aims of EJA Kosovo, you can apply.

15. Are there restrictions for organizations that have KCSF funded projects in applying for this grant?

The only limitation is in the case when organization is a beneficiary of the institutional grant, which by its very nature also contains the organizational development component. In such cases the applicant cannot apply for organizational development grant. There are no other restrictions since other grants are of different nature and there is no overlap of interventions.

16. Where is the statement on politically exposed persons (PEP) located?

This statement can be found on the last page of the application form. There is also an explanation of this statement and the part  which must be filled-in by the applicant organization.

17. Can we include international experts, trainers, or consultants in this call for applications?

Yes, you can plan engagement of international experts or trainers in your application, but this requires clear justification why his/her engagement is necessary to achieve the organizational development aims of the grant.

18. Are we, as the Kosovo Producers Club, representing (manufacturing) businesses, entitled to apply for this grant?

No, organizations representing businesses are not eligible to apply in our calls

19. Can a portion of the funds for organizational development be directed to the arrangement of the organization’s premises (renovation), purchase of necessary technologies (equipment) and the training of staff for co-working (with local and international trainers)?

If organizational development is going to be achieved through these activities and will help achieve the program aim of the organization and if you justify these expenses in the budget, then you can use these funds.

20. If the members of the board of the institute are business representatives, will the structure of the board of directors penalize the institute in this case in applying for your program for organizational development grants?

According to eligibility criteria for EJA Kosovo program, NGOs representing businesses or similar entities for which it is clear that they have the financial capacity to cover the expenses of their organization or support their activities are not targeted by KCSF grants. Consequently, your institute falls into this group.

21. Can organizations without office space apply? If so, how will the “office visit” be carried out?

Regarding the office visit, this means meeting with the organization’s staff about organizational capacity, internal governance, and financial management. The office does not necessarily represent a physical space where the organization operates. As long as the organization has its practices and documents, if it is shortlisted, the meeting and discussion of these points can take place in another suitable space. The lack of office does not hinder organizational capacity building.

22. Can they apply for grants for organizational development, urgent and project grants? Do these grants exclude each other, or can the same organization apply with different content and contexts?

Within the EJA Kosovo program, the instruments are different by nature and do not overlap as applicant address various issues. Consequently, the applicant can apply and submit an application in every call. However, we must emphasize that the organization cannot implement the organizational development grant and the project grant at the same time. Therefore, if the evaluation for all applications is positive, the organization must decide which grant will prioritize for implementation.

23. Are the financial statements of the organization issued by TAK accepted?

The annual financial statements issued by TAK are eligible and supplement item 9 of the mandatory documents in the application guidelines.

24. If the organization does not have an auditor’s report, can the organization apply only with financial statements for the last two years?

As stated already in the guidelines, auditor reports are necessary if the applying organization is required to have an auditor report or if the organization possesses one despite not having an obligation. If the organization does not have such a report and is not required to do so, then the financial statements cover this request.

SMALL PROJECT GRANTS

1. Do you support equipment purchase projects?

Small project grants aim to support specific actions of civil society initiatives and individuals for non-profit initiatives on issues of public importance that address concrete issues, provide concrete results within a set timeframe. All ineligible costs are listed in the Application Guide for Small Project Grants. Equipment are, in principle, not prohibited, but the necessity of their purchase to achieve project results and specific activities must be justified.

2. When is the last date that we can apply as an NGO?

The call for applications for small project grants is open all the time and applications can be submitted at any time. Based on the application guidelines, the evaluation of applications is s carried out each three months,. All the information in relation to the application and the evaluation process can be found on our website, at the following link: https://bit.ly/3oVeQZc.

3. The “Budget for the last 3 years, 2017, 2018, 2019” is stated in the budget form. Is it a problem if we are an organization that was established in 2018?

No, it is not a problem. For those years when the request is not applicable for you, just write N/A (e.g. 2017 = N/A) in that part of the application

4. What is meant by “audit expenses” in the budget form? Is it about budget management expenses that are incurred by the financier, or is it about the engagement of an external auditor after the implementation?

Audit costs areabout the external audit of the project after the implementation, which amount should be calculated depending on the amount of the grant based on the market price.

5. Do the gender mainstreaming guide and citizens’ involvement guide apply to this call and should we decide only in one segment and then stay within the guidelines framework of the selected segment?

The gender mainstreaming guide and the citizen’s involvement guide provide an explanation  how the EJA Kosovo program defines these two topics. These are guiding documents and they apply to all instruments of EJA Kosovo, including small grants, and it is at t applicant’s discretion  to reflect these two aspects in the proposed intervention.

6. What documents should be attached to apply for a project proposal in this call?

All the necessary information and documents for application are published on the KCSF website, at the following link: https://bit.ly/38rCO8X. More specifically, all information can be found in Guidelines for applications, for small project grants, Chapter 4 – Application procedures.

7. Where can we find the application form for small project grants?

All the necessary information and documents for the application are published on the KCSF website, at the following link: https://bit.ly/38rCO8X.

8. Is the age  of target groups defined, meaning that can we have children as target group of our project?

No, the age of target group is not defined. The marginalized groups that should be in the focus of the intervention are listed in the Guidelines for application.

9. Is it necessary to include all marginalized groups mentioned in the Guideline for application?

No, it is not necessary to include in your project all the marginalized groups listed in the guidelines for applications.

10. Are awareness campaigns supported, if they are necessary for the realization of the project andy are only a part of the project activities?

Awareness raising campaigns without proper follow-up activities are not supported. If one of the project activities is an awareness campaign and it is necessary for the realization of the project, then this activity can be supported as a part of the larger intervention.

11. Can we apply in partnership?

Partnerships with other NGOs/unregistered initiatives are allowed. In this case, the lead applicant takes full responsibility for the implementation and management of the project.

12. Regarding the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in project implementation, can we have flexibility in the implementation of activities  that may be forseen to to be implemented in the entire territory of Kosovo, but because of the situation with th pandemic, any change might be needed while implementation?

Your application will be reviewed prior the start of the implementation whereby, together with KCSF, the activity plan and the budget shall be adapted to the epidemiological situation and how it affects the activities. If you will need additional changes and adaptations during the implementation, the flexibility in this regard is possible as the situation in unforeseen and is affecting the whole society, but always in line with the requirements and procedures of the EJA Kosovo program.

13. Are we allowed to apply on two different EJA calls for applications?

Yes. In principle, it is possible because they are separate processes and calls, but always referring to the criteria and requirements explained in the Guidelines for application.

14. Can a researche be supported, if it is necessary for the realization of the project and if they are only a part of the project activities?

Researches and feasibility studies, especially as a means to design the next part of the intervention, in principle, will not be supported. They can be covered in special cases, but only if they are necessary for the realization of the intended objectives of the intervention.

15. Can new organizations apply if they have an annual turnover of less than 25 thousand Euros, even if there is no turnover in the last three years?

Yes. New organizations with an annual turnover of less than 25 thousand Euros can also apply, even if they have not had any turnover in the last three years. If it is an organization that was established in 2020, then it should be written N/A at the budget for 2017, 2018 and 2019.

16. Can individuals apply?

Yes. Individuals (citizens of the Republic of Kosovo) also have the right to apply for this call same as unregistered initiatives (a group of citiziens) and NGOs.

URGENT GRANTS

1. Does this call fund individual businesses?

As per guidelines for application for urgent grants, individuals or unregistered initiatives must prove that their engagement is not for profit, more for public benefit and not for private interest. Businesses are not qualified, while NGOs representing businesses or similar entities that it is clear they have the financial capacity to cover the expenses of their organization or maintain their activities are not targeted by KCSF grants.

2. Where can we find guidelines for application for urgent grants?

All information regarding the call for application for urgent grants, including the guidelines for application, can be found on our website.

3. Can organizations from Albania apply in this call or only in cooperation with NGOs from Kosovo?

Based on the guidelines for application, only individuals, unregistered initiatives and organizations active in Kosovo engaged in a non-profit initiatives are eligible to apply in this call (branches of foreign and international NGOs registered in Kosovo are not eligible to apply). The same rules apply to partners.

4. What is the maximum amount we can apply for?

The maximum amount of support within the call for application for urgent grants is 5,000 EUR.

5. What can be the maximum duration of the grant?

The maximum duration of an urgent grant can be 12 months.

6. Can we apply for craftsmanship?

Your application must be in the field of democratization and EJA Kosovo program areas. For more details about EJA Kosovo program and what initiatives are intended to be supported, please see the guidelines for application for urgent grants.

7. Where can I find the application form for urgent grants and what documents should be attached?

All information about the call for application, including the application form along with other documents can be found on our website.

8. Is it necessary to apply in three languages (Albanian, Serbian, English) or only in one of them?

The application can be completed in one of the languages. It is not necessary to submit it in all three languages.

9. Is there any restriction on the issues we can address?

No, there are no restrictions regarding the issues you foresee to address.

10. What do you consider to be an urgent issue in a community?

An urgent issue is considered any issue that requires urgent contribution and reaction and for which there is not enough time to apply and go through other instruments procedures and regular calls such as project grants.

11. How many projects will be supported within this call?

According to the budget we have approved for this year, tentatively around 12 projects will be supported. However, it depends on the number of applications and their quality. The entire available budget will not necessarily be spent.

12. Are existing projects supported within the call?

Existing projects can be supported if they meet all urgent requirements and criteria which are explained in the application guidelines. In addition, the project should contribute to the overall goal and results of the EJA Kosovo program.

13. Is the purchase of equipment that will help the realization of the project allowed?

All ineligible costs are listed in the guidelines for application for urgent grants. In principle, the purchase of equipment is not prohibited. However, the necessity of such purchase must be justified.

INSTITUTIONAL GRANTS - CALL 2021

1. Within the call, can we foresee opening a website for the publication of all financial statements and other activities? Can the drafting of an advocacy strategy be envisaged as an activity according to the current strategy?

It can be presented if these activities are in line with the organization’s strategy, they contribute to achieving strategic objectives or offer you the opportunity to have better representation as an organization and contribute to increasing the level of transparency.

2. Can branches of an organization apply?

Applicant organizations must meet all the requirements and criteria set out in the call for applications.

3. Should administrative documents be submitted at the time of application with other application documents such as internal financial regulations, HR, etc.?

Apart from the mandatory documents presented in the application guideliness, it is not necessary to deliver other documents.

4. Can the content of the applications/project be in English?

Yes, applications can be submitted in one of three languages: Albanian, English, and Serbian. All templates are on the KCSF website.

5. Should the list of organization members be signed when we submit the application with other documents?

All documents must be submitted as per requirements in the part for mandatory documents, including whether these have to be signed or not.

6. Can we move the margins in the application form and intervene in the forms for writing purposes?

No, you can not intervene in the published format.

7. In the budget, in the part for presentation of program costs and components, how are they supposed to be presented?

The budget should include all organization activities depending on the organization and the projects/programs you have.

8. Are we allowed to foresee additional activities in addition to those planned in the strategy we are currently implementing?

Proposed activities should be in line with the organization’s strategy regardless of whether activities are being implemented or not.

9. Is the application permitted if the organization is registered in Prishtina but has a membership at the level of Kosovo in different cities? In other words, it is an organization that works at the national level?

The EJA Kosovo program supports organizations that operate at both local and central levels.

10. What does civic engagement mean if the organization’s target group or the group with which the organization works is a separate community, for example, blind people?

Engagement of the target group, regardless of which category it belongs to, is expected to be systematic and intentional throughout the organization’s work. For more details, please see the guidelines for applicants: civic engagement.

11. What is the percentage of the budget that can be spent on administrative or staff expenses?

Except for the category for organizational development where the limit is 15%, there is no limit for other categories.

12. Is the drafting of a new strategy foreseen in the framework of this grant if the current strategy is expiring?

In the call for institutional grants, the organization must have the strategic document of the organization which covers all or most of the grant period.

INSTITUTIONAL GRANTS - CALL 2020

1. Does the fact that organizational strategic planning ends in 2021 present a problem?

The organization can apply for an institutional grant and such details should be clarified in the application form and other required documents. Also, according to the rules of the program, institutional grants are reviewed after every one-year period, and in such cases the possibility of adaptation to the circumstances and context is foreseen.

2. Is the maximum budget funded by this call total 40,000 EUR or is it 40,000 EUR per year?

The maximum budget required for funding from this call should not exceed 40,000 EUR/year (including audit). Therefore, if an organization applies for 24 months, maximum budget an applicant can apply for funding is 80,000 EUR, and if applied for 36 months maximum budget is 120,000 EUR.

3. Should only one log-frame be presented or two (one for the organization and one for the grant program)?

Only one log-frame should be presented, the one from the Organization’s strategic document (as per EJA Kosovo model).

4. How detailed should the organizational budget be (is there a need to include all budget lines for all projects)?

The budget should include all projects and should be presented as per EJA Kosovo budget template for Institutional Grants. Budget lines can be presented in cumulative for all projects (i.e. translations, training, etc.)

5. Should all projects be described/detailed in the application and budget or only the ones relevant to this call?

All projects implemented by the applicant organizations must be presented on the application form. Also, the budget of the entire organization for application period must be submitted, with clear indications of those budget lines for which support is requested from EJA Kosovo, as well as specifications and justifications for salaries (as per EJA Kosovo template).

6. If the application is rejected in this round, can we apply with the same one  in next round, or should it be a completely new application one?

Whether the applicant should apply with an updated application or a new one, it’s at organization discretion. It depends on the time and circumstances when the application is submitted. Applications are evaluated within the round in which they are submitted.

7. Can we apply if we only have financial audit report for 2019, and not for 2018?

Based on the call for application for institutional grants, the applicant must submit annual financial statements or auditor’s reports for the last two (2) years, , not necessarily both documents for each year. If an organization has an audit report only for one year, it can submit a financial statement for the next year.

8. Is commitment to pay internship considered a scholarship?

Payment for internship is an acceptable cost.

9. Can we contract companies to organize trainings?

The contracted part should not dominate the grant. Hence, a certain amount can be contracted. However, in general, it is expected activities tobe implemented by the organization that proposes them, especially those activities that are in its area of expertise.

10. Should we refer to the overall goal, expected results and activities in log-frame for the next three years based on the strategy or only for those activities for which  funding is requested?

As to log-frame, you need to refer to the overall goal, expected results, and activities based on the entire strategy of the organization.

11. Are environmental issues supported by this call?

Yes, organizations that deal with environmental issues can also apply. It is important  application is in line with the overall goal and expected results of the EJA Kosovo program.

12. Are children considered marginalized group?

Yes, any marginalized and under-represented group in need to strengthen its influence in the society and improving socio-economic rights are eligible for this call.

13. Is partnership allowed within this call?

No, the call for institutional grants does not support partnerships. Institutional grant is are intended only for the organization that is.

14. Will there be restrictions on organizational budget categories?

Only the category of organizational capacity building (including office equipment costs) should not exceed 15% of the subtotal.

15. Are payments outside Kosovo allowed, for example payments for experts, visits abroad, retreats, membership in networks abroad?

Yes, such payments are allowed but the applicant must ensure that the justification is provided in the designated budget line, specifying the calculation of the expenditures.

16. Can you explain direct costs in more detail?

Direct costs are all direct program costs that do not fall into the category of personnel and administrative costs such as: training, various meetings, research, etc.

17. Can KCSF previous grantees apply in this call?

Beneficiary organizations from other KCSF grant schemes can apply for grants within EJA Kosovo program.

18. Is it necessary to attach the tax certificate together with other application documents?

The tax certificate does not need to be attached. All the necessary documents for application are mentioned in the call for institutional grants, guidelines for application and the application form.

19. What is included in the 15% for organizational capacity building?

This percentage includes capacity building for staff and organization in general, such as: development/improvement of internal work systems, various software, staff training and other activities that are estimated to affect organizational capacity building.

20. Should conferences, meetings and other activities funded by other donors be included in the budget?

Yes, they should be included. Organizational budget is created to show all organizational expenses and financing, regardless of the sources of funding.

21. Can organization apply for Institutional Grant if they have actual project grants financed from SDC or Sida?

Yes, organizations that have actual project grant financed from SDC or SIDA, can apply for Institutional Grant.

LEGISLATION ON CIVIL SOCIETY

1. What does legislation on civil society mean?

Since the main characteristic of the civil sector is the principle of non-distribution of profits, the legal framework that determines regulatory principles of this sector is usually known as “not-for-profit law”.

Civil society organizations act in compliance with the legal framework applicable in the country where they operate, as well as with the principles of international law. At the international level, there are certain documents that determine the main principles of the not-for-profit sector, starting from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Convention for Civil and Political Rights, European Convention of Human Rights, Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for member states regarding the legal status of non-governmental organizations in Europe, etc. National legislation should be in compliance with the principles of these international documents.

2. What is the legal basis for the civil society in Kosovo?

The right and freedom of association are constitutional categories in Kosovo, and to enjoy these rights registration is not mandatory. Starting from the fact that the majority of CSOs in Kosovo are registered as NGOs, we refer to Law Nr.03/L-134 on Freedom of Association in NGOs as the main legal basis for the civil society. This law includes the basic elements of the functioning of NGOs, starting from registration, internal organization, public beneficiary status and dissolution of the NGO.

Other important laws that impact the civil society sector are laws that regulate fiscal issues, respectively tax and custom obligations: Law on Personal Income Tax, Law on Corporate Income Tax, Law on VAT, as well as laws and regulations that govern the manner of work of institutions which NGOs interact with: Rules of Procedure of the Assembly of Kosovo, Rules of Procedure of the Government, Law on Local Self Government and Statute of Municipalities, Law on Access to Official Documents, Law on Legislative Initiatives etc.

3. What is freedom of association?

Freedom of association is a basic human right, guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international and European conventions on human rights and freedoms. Freedom of association means the right of each individual to establish an organization with the aim of promoting, addressing and protecting the joint interest of the group without the need for a special permit. Freedom of association is also guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo which under article 44 determines that: “Freedom of association includes the right of everyone to establish an organization without obtaining any permission, to be or not to be a member of any organization and to participate in the activities of an organization”

4. What does the Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs treat?

The Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs treats the main elements of establishing, organization, internal governance, deregistration and dissolution of the NGOs as well as the main elements of the Public Beneficiary Status.

5. What body is responsible for the implementation of the Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs?

The body responsible for the implementation of the Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs is the Department for Registration and Liaison with NGOs (DRLNGO), within the Ministry of Public Administration.

  1. What are the obligations of NGOs toward the DRLNGO?

Each NGO is obliged to submit a statement with the DRLNGO confirming that its basic information has not changed, or to inform about the changes to that information. If this statement is not submitted 2 years in a row, the NGO shall be deregistered, following a notice from the DRLNGO 60 days prior to the expiration of deadline. Also, in case there are changes to the Statute of the NGO, all NGOs are obliged to present those changes to the DRLNGO.

7. What does Public Beneficiary Status mean?

Public Beneficiary Status is a concept related to civil society organizations which develop their mission or activities to the benefit of the general public or of a certain group and which is in the interest of the general public. This concept means that such organizations provide services or carry out works which otherwise would be the obligation of the state. For this reason, the state provides these organizations with certain benefits, mostly tax, for the purpose of encouraging and supporting their work. On the other hand, since they enjoy various benefits from the state, these organizations take over additional obligations of reporting and accountability towards the public, respectively towards using these benefits or public funds.

8. How can the Public Beneficiary Status be obtained?

In Kosovo, the Public Beneficiary Status can be obtained from the time of registration or also later while the organization is operating. NGOs may apply for the Public Beneficiary Status if the primary activities of the NGO are one or more activities which are considered to be for the benefit of the public. This is a yearly status and to continue keeping this status, the organization has to successfully fulfill obligations that stem from holding this status.

9. What types of activities are considered to be of public benefit?

Based on Article 17, par. 1 of the Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs, to obtain the status of a public beneficiary, an NGO has to have as its primary activity one or more of the following: humanitarian assistance and relief, support for persons with disabilities, charity activities, education, health, culture, youth, sports, environmental conservation or protection, economic reconstruction and development, protection and promotion of human rights, support for democratic practices and civil society or any other activity that serves the public beneficiary. This list is not a final list, respectively this may be expanded with other activities that are considered to be for the benefit of the public. However, the interpretation of the possibility of expanding this list is an exclusive competency of the DRLNGO. Also, it is important to differentiate between educational and health activities, which in order to be considered activities that benefit the general public must be offered freely or cheaper than the real market value and this for individuals or groups that are in unfavorable conditions. Similarly, activities for economic development may be considered to be for the benefit of the public only if they are undertaken primarily to the benefit of individuals or groups that are in unfavorable conditions. This distinction is related to preventing unfair competition that can occur for these specific fields on behalf of tax exemption.

10. What are the benefits to organizations that enjoy the Public Beneficiary Status?

In Kosovo, since 2004, breaks and benefits for organization with Public Beneficiary Status are nearly non-existent. The Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs foresees that organizations with Public Beneficiary Status enjoy the right to be exempted from tax and other tax and fiscal benefits, with the exception of those that are in essence obligations for public utility services. However, these tax breaks and benefits need to be determined and put into operation or use accurately through other laws that are specific i.e. Law on VAT, Law on personal income tax, Law on corporate income tax etc. These laws offer a very limited number of tax benefits. Specifically, tax exemptions for corporate income is made possible, to the extent that the income is used exclusively for public benefit purposes; exemption from immovable property tax, except when that property is used for commercial purposes or to create profit. Also, tax exemption on personal and corporate income is made possible for private entities that contribute to humanitarian, health, education religious, scientific, cultural, environmental protection and sports purposes and are permitted in the form of discounts at the maximum amount of five percent (5%) of taxable income calculated before this amount is deducted, provided that the receiving party is an NGO with Public Beneficiary Status.

11. What are the obligations of organizations with Public Beneficiary Status in Kosovo?

Based on the Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs, organizations with a Public Beneficiary Status are subjected to certain additional obligations of reporting to the DRLNGO. Organizations with a Public Beneficiary Status need to hand in an annual financial report and a report on activities of the organization to the DRLNGO. The report needs to be delivered latest by March 31 of the following year. Also, organizations with a Public Beneficiary Status with income or annual expenditure in excess of EUR 100,000 need to present a financial audit report for the previous year, certified by an independent auditor, to the DRLNGO.

12. How to register an NGO?

For registration, founders need to hand in to the DRLNGO a registration request, founding act and statute, as well as designate an authorized representative who shall receive all the documentation on behalf of the organization. DRLNGO must issue a registration certificate within a deadline of at most 60 days, except in cases where additional documents are requested or registration is denied in writing. Depending on whether the NGO is registered as an association or foundation, the number of founders and the structure of governance differ. An association may be founded by at least three (3) or more individuals, where at least one of them has a residence or seat in Kosovo. A foundation may be registered by one or more persons. A foundation also may be founded through a will or bequeath.

13. What is the difference between associations and foundations?

Associations are membership organizations whereas foundations are established to manage an asset or a fund and as such have no members. The highest governing body of an association is the Assembly of Members, which must convene at least once a year. All the members of the CSO (or all member organizations with one member each, in cases when the association is a network of a number of organizations) are represented in the Assembly of Members. The highest governing body of a foundation is the Board of Directors, which must convene at least once a year. The Board of Directors is appointed by the founder of the foundation (just the first composition), whereas following this, the members of the board will be elected by the Board itself.

ORGANIZATION AND INTERNAL GOVERNANCE OF CSOS

1. What is the internal governance of CSOs?

Internal governance of civil society organizations means principles, systems, rules, mechanisms and practices based on which an organization is run. Good governance means that principles and practices of internal governance provide a system of internal control which ensures that the leaders of the organization use the resources and their authority in an effective and accountable manner based on common values of the organization.

2. What are the basic principles for internal governance of the CSOs?

Although there are differences depending on the type of organization, some of the basic principles of internal governance are: the existence of a clear mission and of activities within that mission, the existence of internal structures with separate and clear responsibilities, division between governing bodies and management, regular financial management, transparency and accountability to stakeholders, work and conduct standards of ethics, etc.

3. What is the source of obligations for internal governance of the CSO’s?

CSOs internal governance in Kosovo is based on external legal and contractual obligations, and on internal principles. External obligations mainly include legal requests for registered CSOs in relation to formal internal structures and reporting obligations for various categories of organizations, whereas internal principles include systems of functioning based on values, statute, regulation, codes of conduct etc. Majority of legal obligations stem from the new Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs. Contractual obligations stem usually from the very moment support is given to the organization through funds or other assets, for which the organization using those is obliged to use them in accordance with contractual obligations. Internal principles are mainly determined through internal documents of those respective organizations and mainly come from governing bodies, members, supporters, partner organizations etc.

4. What are the forms of organization of CSOs in Kosovo?

Most civil society organizations are registered as NGOs. Regarding the legal forms that determine the manner of organization and internal governance of the NGOs, these are divided into associations and foundations.

5. What are the differences between associations and foundations?

Associations are membership organizations, whereas foundations are established to manage an asset or fund, and as such have no members.

6. What is the highest governing body of an Association?

The highest governing body of an association is the Assembly of Members, which needs to meet at least once a year. All the members of the CSO (or in cases when the association is a network of a number of organizations, through a single member for each member organization) are represented in the Assembly of Members.

7. What is the highest governing body of a foundation?

The highest governing body of a foundation is the Board of Directors, which must meet at least once a year. The Board of Directors is appointed by the founder of the foundation (only its first composition), whereas the members of the Board are elected by the Board itself.

8. Can an association be turned into a foundation and vice versa?

After registering as an NGO, the form of organization cannot be changed.

9. Can CSOs undertake economic activities?

Based on international principles of NGO functioning as well as the Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs, CSOs may undertake economic activities for the purpose of supporting its not-for-profit activities and under conditions that the income received through economic activities is to be used to achieve the mission and goals of the organization. Income from economic activities may, in no form or manner, be distributed to the leader or any member of the organization, with the exception of payment for the work done. Depending on the type of the organizations, in international practices there are set limitations on economic activities.

10. Where should CSOs report to?

CSOs, depending on the type and level of organization, have different reporting obligations. As a rule, all CSOs must report regularly to the highest governing body of the organization. Reporting to state institutions is done only for fiscal/administrative aspects, any time a CSO is registered as a legal entity (NGO) and undertakes administrative activities or carries out payments and pays taxes. Only organizations holding a Public Beneficiary Status must report on yearly basis to the Department for Registration and Liaison with NGOs relating to their activities and finances. CSOs, at the time that they receive funds from a donor, are obliged to report to the donor on the manner and regularity of using those funds. The level of reporting to the donor differs depending on the rules of each donor.

Beyond obligatory reporting, CSOs may voluntarily expand the groups to which they report to, for the purpose of increasing public support for the work of the CSO and strengthening its activities.

Finally, each NGO is obliged to hand in a statement to the DRLNGO which confirms that its basic records have not changed, or to inform about changes to those records. If this statement is not handed in for 2 years running, the NGO will be deregistered, after a notice by the DRLNGO 60 days before the deadline.

CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION IN THE PROCESS OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

1. What is the role of the civil society in the European integration process?

Civil society has an important role in policy drafting and implementation especially within the European integration process. The importance of cooperation with the civil society has been highlighted with the inclusion of article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union which notes the importance of the civil dialogue as well as the condition by the EU to Balkan countries to stimulate this dialogue so that the civil society can exercise its role in this process and increase the democratic representation of the society.

In Kosovo, civil society participation in the European integration process is developed in two platforms, that of the cooperation between the civil society – EU institutions and civil society – local institutions.

2. Which EU mechanisms are open to the civil society in Kosovo?

The main cooperation mechanisms between civil society organizations and EU institutions in Kosovo are: Stabilization-Association Process Dialogue (SAPD), European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), IPA – Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance and the CSO contribution for the Progress Report.

  • The main purpose of political and technical meetings within the Stabilization-Association process Dialogue is to follow and monitor reforms in Kosovo and the process of approximation with the EU. Within the political dialogue, CSO are invited to a meeting once a year which is held one day prior to the plenary session of the SAPD, where they have the opportunity to present their assessment and their concerns relating to the latest developments, based on their field of expertise, whereas EC representatives will officially raise these questions and issues during the official plenary meeting between the EC and Kosovo authorities.
  • European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights is the key instrument of the European Commission to support the civil society in Kosovo and this instrument was implemented in 2008.
  • IPA – Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) is an instrument of the European Commission which is aimed at technical assistance to Western Balkan countries. Also lately CSOs are consulted during the programming of the Multi-annual Indicative Planning Document (MIPD).
  • Progress report – European Office in Kosovo also invites CSOs for comments for the drafting of the Progress Report where the civil society has the opportunity to directly provide inputs to the EU Office on their fields of expertise.

3. What is the Stabilization-Association Process Dialogue?

The Communication “Kosovo – fulfilling its European Perspective”, approved by the Commission in November 2009 began an intensified political dialogue, the Stabilization-Association Process Dialogue (SAPD). Within the SAPD, political and technical meetings are held to follow and monitor Kosovo’s reforms and the process of approximation with the EU, especially related to the priorities defined in the European Partnership approved by the Council of Europe on February 18, 2008. The meetings of SAP dialogue are co-chaired by the European Commission and Government of Kosovo. Each meeting results in subsequent actions which are jointly agreed and which need to be undertaken by the Kosovar authorities. Plenary meetings of the SAP dialogue are held once a year. Until now, tens of meetings have been organized to deepen the technical discussion on the fields of justice; freedom and security; innovation; information society; and social policies; trade; internal market and competition, agriculture and fishing; transportation, environment, energy and regional development; economic development. Sectorial meetings of the SAP Dialogue are held once a year, in Prishtina and Brussels. Time between these meetings enables the implementation of agreed recommendations and actions.

4. What mechanisms of the Government of Kosovo are open to the civil society in Kosovo?

Government of Kosovo key mechanisms which are open to the civil society are: 1) National Council for European integration led by the Presidency; 2) Task Force for European Integration led by the Ministry for European Integration; 3) Commission for European Integration of the Assembly of Kosovo; 4) Ministry of European Integration mainly for the programming of financial assistance for the fields of education, communication and information.

5. What is the role of the National Council for European Integration?

National Council for European Integration led by the Presidency (NCEI) is a consultative and coordinating forum which aims to formulate consensual national policies of the Republic of Kosovo for European Integration, by facilitating the coordination of activities of all the parties involved. The Council was founded and is led by the President of Kosovo.  The civil society is represented through three members in this structure. Civil society representatives are elected through an open nomination process. The three representatives of the civil society come from organizations that have experience and projects in the field of European Integration, such as Kosovo Civil Society Foundation (KCSF) and Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS) or represent influential networks in Kosovo such as Civikos Platform.  Recently NCEI was also joined by KLI and GLPS.

7. What is the role of the Task Force for European Integration?

The Task Force for European Integration is a national consensus-building mechanism that aims to gather various experts from the entire governmental and non-governmental structures of the country, in order to discuss and comprehensively analyze the current state of affairs and the challenges that must be addressed within the European integration process. The Task Force aims to multiply the efforts and commitments through the participation and contribution of all actors in governance, politics, academic life, the public life, civil society, media and other stakeholders who have an interest in the European integration process. This will be achieved through the division of labor into 7 Thematic Roundtables. Civil society representatives are invited into this structure based on their expertise in certain sectors to contribute and submit their concerns, whereas some of the thematic roundtables are even led by experts that come from the civil society. Based on the challenges raised at the Thematic Roundtable, the Task Force will present specific recommendations for strategic policies of the European integration process. The main aim of the Task Force shall be developing the National Strategy for European Integration.

7. How is the civil society involved in the IPA and EIDHR programming?

The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) is an instrument of the European Council that aims towards technical assistance for countries with a membership perspective. EU Office in Kosovo consults CSOs for description of projects through a Joint Monitoring Committee to ensure the best efficiency of the assistance and to avoid duplications. Also the civil society is consulted during the programming of the Multi-annual Indicative Planning Document as well as the Annual assistance plans from the IPA for Kosovo as well as direct assistance for the civil society through IPA or EIDHR instrument for the region or Kosovo.

8. What is the progress report of the European Commission and what is the contribution of the civil society in drafting the EC progress report for Kosovo?

Progress reports are issued by the European Commission for each country of the Western Balkans involved in the Stabilization-Association Process. These reports describe relations between countries of the Western Balkan and those of the European Union. Usually the European Commission issues these reports in autumn of every year. The reports are a yearly reflection of the achievements, delays and challenges in the reforms that stem from the Copenhagen criteria, meaning political, economic and European standards. Through the progress report, a review is done for countries that aim for EU membership regarding the implementation of European standards which means approximation of its legislation and policies with those of the Acquis Communautaire of the EU. Progress for each Balkan country is measure based on decisions taken, approved legislation and implementation of measures. To ensure equal access treatment, laws or measures that are under preparation or are awaiting any type of approval are not taken under consideration. This approach shows an equal treatment and objective assessment for all the countries. The Progress reports are written for each country of the Western Balkans and have the same structure. The reports analyze the political situation of these countries relating to fields such as: the functioning of institutions, democracy, rule of law, human rights, protection of minorities, regional issues, economic, financial reforms and those of sectorial fields of the EU.

9. What community programs does the civil society in Kosovo benefit from?

  • IPA – Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance – which aims to support the stabilization-association process through technical assistance;
  • EIDHR – European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights is the key instrument of the European Commission for supporting the civil society;
  • TAIEX – is a technical assistance and exchange of information program that aims to approximate, apply and empower EU legislation;
  • Twinning – is an instrument for cooperation between public administrations of EU member states and beneficiary countries; and
  • TEMPUS – program that aims to support higher education through university cooperation projects.
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN DECISION-MAKING

. What does citizen participation in decision-making mean?

Citizen participation means an individual or collective action, with an aim of identifying and addressing issues of public interest. Citizen participation is a process where citizens organize themselves and their goals at the grassroots level and work together through non-governmental community organizations to influence the decision-making process. Participation in decision-making means an opportunity for the citizens, CSOs and other stakeholders to influence the development of policies and laws that impact them.

2. Can citizen participation replace constitutional responsibilities of public institutions?

Citizen participation does not suspend constitutional and legal competencies of the representatives of the executive and legislative branch in the procedure of approving and implementing laws, as well as of the instruments of public policies, but rather enables authorities to implement these competencies more efficiently.

3. What are the main levels of citizen participation?

There are four levels of citizen participation, from the one with the lowest participation to the one with the highest participation. These are: information, consultation, dialogue; and partnership.

4. What is information?

Access to information is the basis of all the following steps in the inclusion of CSO in the process of political decision-making. This is a relatively low level of participation that is related to the one-way flow of information from the public authorities and interaction or inclusion of NGOs is neither requested nor expected. Information is relevant to all the steps of the decision-making process. Without being informed beforehand on the plans and the work of public institutions, the citizens cannot participate in any of the later stages of work of the respective institution.

5. What is consultation?

Consultation is a form of participation where public authorities ask the opinion of the citizens and CSOs relating to a specific topic of policies or developments. Consultation usually means information provided by the authorities to the citizens and CSOs relating to various political developments and the request for comments, stands and reactions. Initiatives and topic come from the public authorities and not from the citizens and CSOs.

6. What is dialogue?

Dialogue is an ongoing process of consultation between the public authorities and CSOs which takes place throughout all the stages of drafting and implementation of policies, starting from determining the agenda and all the way to the assessment and reformulation of the policy. The dialogue may be extensive or specific. An extensive dialogue is not related to any specific process of policy development, but remains generalized and is mainly aimed at setting the agenda. A specific dialogue is built on common interests for the development of a particular policy, whereas it results in recommendations and concrete actions.

7. What is a partnership?

Partnership implies shared responsibilities between the public authorities and CSOs at every step of the process of political decision-making, starting from setting the agenda, drafting, decision and implementation of any political initiative. This is also the highest form of participation. At this level, CSOs and public authorities start a close cooperation, but by ensuring that at the same time, CSOs continue to remain independent and have the right to campaigns and actions regardless of the partnership situation.

8. Do public institutions in Kosovo have an obligation to include citizens and CSOs in their work?

All public institutions in Kosovo have a constitutional obligation to include citizens in their work, whether in drafting or implementation of their policies and programs. The municipal level has the biggest obligations, where each municipality must inform its citizens on ‘plans or programs of import to the public interest’. Citizens of a municipality have the right to participate in the activities of the respective municipality, the right to petition, citizens’ initiative, local referendum whereas the municipalities are obliged to establish consultative committees within sectors, where CSO representatives also need to be invited into. At the government level, all government acts (except decisions of an administrative character) must be consulted with the public in advance, whereas the government is obliged to provide sufficient information on the document that is being consulted, sufficient time to contribute as well as to report on the results of the consultation. Public hearings may be organized for all the laws that are approved by the Assembly of Kosovo, whereas CSOs may also participate in the meetings of parliamentary committees.

9. What does volunteering mean?

Volunteering can be defined as the practice of people that work for others or for a common good without being motivated by financial or material gain. Volunteering is mainly related to an altruistic activity that has a goal of promoting better quality of life for the people. Also volunteer work helps people gain practical skill for the work that they do.