Study of Challenges of the Ukrainian СSOs

The research on civil society organisations (CSOs) in the context of war was presented in Kyiv on October 31. It was performed by 4Service LLC at the request of East Europe Foundation as part of the Phoenix Project funded by the European Union.

The purpose of the survey was to assess the needs and problems of CSOs as well as their role and place in the process of rebuilding the country. The research is based on a combined approach that relies on quantitative and qualitative methods. A total of 621 representatives of civil society organisations and charities were interviewed. The field stage took place in July 2023.

The findings highlight primarily changes in the operation, problems and needs of organisations, project activities, and organisational capacity in the second year of the full-scale war.

According to the findings, the majority of those surveyed — 70% of respondents and 91% of civil society organisations — had not relocated because of the invasion. Furthermore, 79% of organisations did not change their activity because of the war, while 19% indicated that they had adapted to the new environment, including through changes to the avenues of their activity.

As expected, among the surveyed organisations that have relocated, the highest percentage is held by the northern and eastern regions — 35% and 24%, respectively. Displaced organisations from Ukraine’s east are more likely than other respondents to have changed their avenue of activity.

In terms of the distribution of responses by organisations’ geography, the eastern region has a higher rate of humanitarian aid activity (54%) against other regions. In the western region, there is a noticeable shift towards social services (36%) and volunteering (37%).

As regards project work, 25% of organisations indicated their failure to implement even a single project since the large-scale invasion. 52% of organisations have 20 or fewer projects. Some organisations have more than 20 projects. 20% refused to answer.

Furthermore, only 17% of organisations received international assistance after 24 February 2022. 83% indicated that they had not received such funding. Statistically significant differences, as compared to all respondents, were found in the answers to this question from the relocated respondents: 29% of relocated organisations received international technical assistance grants. Besides, such grants would be more often received by those organisations that changed their avenues of activity — 36% vs. 17% of all those surveyed.

The available grant funds were mainly used to support vulnerable groups, integrate internally displaced persons, increase social cohesion, hold training programmes, and raise awareness of various groups of citizens.

The researchers note that it is necessary to continue monitoring and studying the status and changes in the needs and problems of CSOs.

The most frequently cited problems include the need for funding, including administrative expenses, weak physical infrastructure, emotional burnout, lack of human resources, and insufficient cooperation with local authorities.

The lack of funds is felt most by organisations established in 2022–2023 (74% compared to 63% of all respondents), and least — by those that have been operating since 2001. By contrast, representatives of organisations established between 2012 and 2021 indicated higher levels of emotional burnout. Emotional burnout is also more inherent in organisations that are currently relocated.

The majority of organisations have a shortage of specialised professional positions. For example, 85% of respondents noted that their organisation did not have a fundraiser; 81% lacked procurement specialists; 83% — monitoring and evaluation specialists; 70% of organisations lacked a communication expert.

CSOs also indicated the most relevant training topics, putting project writing, building relationships with the public, businesses, and government, gaining knowledge about organisation management, language learning, and fundraising at the top of the list.

Among other things, 90% of those surveyed intend to join the process of rebuilding the country or their community.