Is There Any Money to Be Made in NGO Sector?

There are so many of them and they do nothing. They are all mercenaries that blindfold the people. None of them have ever done any good. These are the most common statements you will encounter, if you, by any chance, ask someone to comment on the work of non-governmental organizations or on the relevance of the civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Civil society organizations are usually a form of support to the governmental sector in resolving numerous social problems; they strive to develop partnerships with authorities and contribute to the community through the realization of joint programs, projects and initiatives and are also employers that can create a significant number of workplaces.

The non-governmental sector is often regarded as the sector that employs mostly volunteers, i.e. as a sector of organizations that are useful exclusively for acquiring work experience, knowledge and skills during high school or university education. This is the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, in the rest of the world, they represent an employer equal to the governmental, economic or academic sector.

There is no exact number of non-governmental organizations in BiH available, i.e. the number of associations and foundations, since some of them are only registered but not active. According to the data of the Tax Administration of FBiH, there are 1,083 associations registered in BiH that employ at least one person under an employment contract. To be more precise, 3,370 persons are currently employed in the NGO sector in FBiH under employment contracts. That means that one NGO on average employs 3 persons.

Although they could contribute significantly to the labor market, NGOs are often excluded from the programs of active employment measures. The focus is most often placed on the private sector, while the employment potentials of the NGO sector are completely forgotten and unused.

It is noteworthy that numerous NGOs are simultaneously employers that employ people, pay direct or indirect taxes and that they should be regarded in this context as a type of an economic branch.

NGOs not only offer the area for volunteering and acquiring different skills that are not available to youth during their high school and university education, but might also be an equal competition on the labor market in BiH as well as in other countries. The NGO sector plays a significant role in development of the society, promotion and protection of rights and freedom of individuals, equality and rule of law and represents an economic potential.

It would also be useful to observe the existence and activities of the NGO sector from a different perspective.

When discussing the NGOs in the context of numbers, the results that are offered seem terrifying. It is a fact that not all NGOs offer equal quality or transparency in the context of services, but, as in all other areas, the quality has to be recognized and the potentials utilized.

A Brief Beginners’ Guide:

The legal framework of activities of the civil society organizations (CSOs) is regulated through the Law on Associations and Foundation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Law on Associations and Foundations of FBiH, the Law on Associations and Foundations of Republika Srpska and the Law on Associations and Foundations of Br?ko District.

The legal form of CSOs in BiH is an association that can be registered at a state, entity, cantonal and Br?ko District level, depending on the central office and the territory in which it operates. Organizations that have the intention of operating on the whole territory of BiH, file a request to be entered in the register of associations with all the necessary documents to the Ministry of Justice of BiH. The organizations with central offices in FBiH are registered at a cantonal level according to their municipality/city at the Ministry of Justice, i.e. at the Ministry of Justice of FBiH at the level of FBiH. NGOs with central offices located in Republika Srpska file requests for entering the register of civic associations and all the required documentation to the authorized local court. 


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