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In Bratislava, on 3 March 2006, an international seminar „Developing Philanthropy: Public Benefit and its Implications for Society“ was organized by Open Society Foundation Bratislava and Slovak Donors’ Forum. The Seminar was attended by around 60 participants, representatives of non-governmental organizations, state institutions and charitable organizations from 12 countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Great Britain, Netherlands and Japan.
The Seminar has been realized within the project „Public benefit and its implications for the NGO sector“ aimed at initiating a broad discussion about „public benefit“ status, starting with the definition of „public benefit“, to examining its implications and its impact on other emerging key issues such as re-sourcing of NGOs, financial instruments, NGOs legal status and volunteerism, as well as establishing an informal channel of communication between the state and civil society.

Within the discussion on philanthropy and NGOs „public benefit“ status, the Seminar aimed at delivering experiences and knowledge from other countries, both the ones with long-established tradition of charitable activity (mainly western European countries, Japan), and the countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe which have only just started this process, with only some of them having it legally regulated (Poland, Hungary).

Theo Schuyt, professor of philanthropy at Free University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, David Emerson, president of Association of Charitable Foundations from UK, and Junko Chano, director of Sasakawa Peace Foundation from Japan spoke about the models and experiences of philanthropy and „public benefit“ status in the countries with long-established tradition of charitable institutions.

Experiences of countries from Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe have been delivered with a panel-discussion „Approaches towards philanthropy and „public benefit“ status in CEE countries and Southeast Europe“ with the following participants: Jaroslaw Lepka, Polish Donor’s Forum from Poland, Balazs Sator, Civil Society Development Foundation from Hungary, Robert Cholensky, League of Human rights from the Czech Republic, Cvjetana Plavša-Matić, National Foundation for Society Development from Croatia and Katarina Vajdova, Civil Society Development Foundation from Slovakia.

Our organization’s participation in the Seminar was made possible through the support of Open Society Foundation from Podgorica. We had a chance to learn the experiences of countries from western, central, eastern and southeastern Europe in the area of legal regulation of NGOs „public benefit“ status, both its positive and negative aspects, as well as to establish communication with other organizations, which will help us in finding different approaches to addressing issues that EXPEDITIO brings up with the aim of enhancing civil sector in Montenegro. Furthermore, establishing contacts with other participants opens possibilities for direct cooperation in some future project.

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