There are approximately 9000 active foundations and associations in Warsaw, half of which serve the residents. The Council of the City of Warsaw has just adopted a new long-term Development Programme for Cooperation with Non-Governmental Organisations, which will determine the course of action for the coming years.
Today, it is impossible to imagine a city operating without NGOs. Community centres, kindergartens, educational workshops, neighbourhood initiatives, animal care, civic advice – these are just some of the activities animated and conducted by foundations and associations,” says Mariusz Budziszewski, Vice-Chairperson of the Local Government and European Integration Committee. “Organisations are an essential, and often indispensable, partner for the city. By working together we make Warsaw a friendly place and an open metropolis.
Ewa Kolankiewicz, plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Warsaw for cooperation with non-governmental organisations, expressed a similar opinion.
Non-governmental organisations are a strategic partner in the implementation of public tasks and the co-creation of the City’s programme documents. We have therefore found it particularly important to decide together in which direction to move, especially now, during the COVID-19 epidemic. From the outset, we have developed this programme on the basis of co-participation of organisations. This work began with a ‘blank sheet’, which representatives of the City and the third sector filled in with content. We have developed this document together in a process lasting over a year, interrupted for a few months by the epidemic, during diagnostic &creative workshops and consultations, among other things, she emphasises.
Purpose and fields of cooperation
The main objective of the programme is to develop cooperation between the City of Warsaw and non-governmental organisations as a strategic partner in creating public policies and effective implementation of public tasks. The cooperation will be based on three areas: dialogue, financial cooperation and non-financial cooperation.
Detailed objectives, directions of action and priority tasks have been defined for each of these fields. The document envisages that the dialogue between the city and organisations will be developed jointly, while within the framework of financial cooperation a stable system will be created based on transparent rules of delegating public tasks to organisations. Non-financial cooperation is also to be reinforced. These objectives will be achieved, inter alia, through greater involvement of organisations in the dialogue and increasing their influence on decisions and documents created in the City.
The implementation of the programme is expected to lead, among other things, to an increase in the number of long-term tasks delegated to organisations, an increase in the number of contracts for lease of city premises to non-governmental organisations concluded for a period exceeding 3 years, the development of the services of the NGO Support Centre, the organisation of a networking meeting aimed to establish intersectoral partnerships, and the development of coherent principles of substantive and financial control.
Forms of cooperation
The basic and most common form of cooperation between the City of Warsaw and non-governmental organisations is the delegation of public tasks aimed at developing the city and improving the quality of life of its residents. In 2020, under the open tenders and minor subsidies, almost 3,000 grants were awarded to non-governmental organisations in Warsaw, amounting to over PLN 273 million.
Such projects have served to implement public tasks in the fields of education, childcare, sport, culture, social welfare and many others. These figures alone indicate the enormous scale of the City’s activities with the capital’s third sector, but they also have a non-financial dimension.
Considering such a large scale and significance of mutual cooperation, it is important to programme its development in a longer perspective than one year. In 2015, the first long-term cooperation development programme in the history of the capital was adopted, entitled “The Development Programme for Cooperation between the City of Warsaw and Non-Governmental Organisations until 2020”. During its implementation, the trust of organisations in the committees assessing applications and their satisfaction with the manner in which matters are handled in offices increased, but the most important for their representatives was the implementation of an electronic application generator and the annual increase in expenditure on grants for the NGO sector.
In the second such document in the history of the City – the Programme for the Development of Cooperation between the City of Warsaw and Non-Governmental Organisations for 2021-2025 (full name: Development Programme of Cooperation of the City of Warsaw with Non-Governmental Organisations and Entities 2021-2025 mentioned in Article 3(3) of the Act of 24 April 2003 on Public Benefit Activity and Volunteer Work) there are several elements that will continue the policies of its predecessor, but it also introduces corrections, developments and completely new objectives and actions.
The current programme was developed in considerably more difficult circumstances than its predecessor. On the one hand, the COVID-19 epidemic and, on the other, the city’s precarious financial situation, have made the document more cautious in its financial assumptions.
The previous programme assumed an annual 5% increase in grant expenditure, which was significantly exceeded. The City, in response to residents’ expectations, selects the best projects for the implementation of public tasks, supporting them financially. In 2019 there were 3092 grants for an amount of over PLN 206 million, and in 2020 2,922 grants for over PLN 273 million. Due to plans to reduce funding for local governments, these amounts will not be achievable in subsequent years. Therefore, instead of a 5% annual increase in expenditures in the current programme, only the minimum amount allocated for delegating public tasks to NGOs was increased to PLN 150 million.
The Warsaw authorities believe, however, that despite financial difficulties it will still be possible to develop cooperation with the third sector and to work more and more effectively together for the benefit of Warsaw and its residents.