In Ukraine—and now in Macedonia, Serbia, and Kosovo—ISC worked with nonprofits to help them get donations—but we also worked on the supply side, encouraging corporations and individuals to give time, money, and expertise to their favorite causes.more
At ISC, one of our primary goals is to help ordinary citizens participate more fully in all aspects of public life. We often do this by strengthening civil society. Civil society is the social fabric that connects individuals, families, institutions, and business to one another. Because nonprofits are the primary way through which ordinary people can make their voices heard, we focus much of our resources on strengthening nonprofits and their ability to represent and serve their constituents.
At every step, we engage local partners working on local issues and local initiatives. These nonprofits address a broad range of issues of their own, choosing, advocating on behalf of their constituents, connecting people, or providing services where the government is not able. Social service organizations, think tanks, watchdog groups, and consumer and business associations all play a critical role in helping people make their communities better places to live.
ISC gives nonprofits the tools, skills, and resources they need to get what we call a "seat at the table" alongside government and business in decisions affecting public life. By "seat at the table," we mean that the nonprofit sector is seen as a trusted, influential, and permanent partner in public decision making.
- While we help individual nonprofits better represent and serve their constituents, we also promote ways in which the nonprofits can raise the revenue that will sustain them in the future. We have helped spawn community foundations, for example—a relatively new concept in many countries. We also are working with business and corporations to encourage corporate philanthropy, and we have helped nonprofits launch businesses whose profits fund their social services.
- In many countries where we work, nonprofits are stepping in to provide services where the government used to—and legislation has not followed this trend. So we help nonprofits advocate for or change laws that will support the nonprofit sector, such as changing the tax code so that nonprofits will pay less or no tax, or so that they won't be taxed on earned income that supports their mission. We help them draft laws that will permit nonprofits to register more easily, encourage volunteerism, or allow individual or corporate donations to be exempt from taxes.
- We help nonprofits form coalitions and networks to achieve more with fewer resources. In Serbia, a coalition of nonprofits developed the first national policy on youth, who, facing high unemployment and disillusionment, need more support to strong leaders in the future. In Macedonia, a coalition applied for and won the country's first grant from the Global AIDS Fund to stop HIV from becoming an epidemic at home. And in Ukraine, a network of nonprofits developed a new system for homeless people to register for social services from the government without a home address. Also in Ukraine, more than 100 nonprofits have signed a Code of Ethics that takes an important and strong stand against corruption and for transparency.
The mood at Mesecina, a local nonprofit that provides much-needed assistance to the Roma in Macedonia, is brighter these days as it uses the training and mentoring provided by ISC to ensure that their valuable work will thrive well into the future.more
By funneling energy efficiency savings back into communities, ISC’s grass roots approach to combating climate change is galvanizing people toward making their communities better places to live.more
ISC helped organize Serbia's first Pride Parade since 2001, which drew more than 1,000 activists marching through the streets of Belgrade to demand equal rights and celebrate their place in Serbian society.more
ISC and our partners have launched the Visibly Better campaign to call attention to the work that Serbian nonprofits do every day on behalf of ordinary citizens.more
In separate speeches—on the same day—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted ISC's civil society work in Serbia, while EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson featured our Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Academy in China.more
Stories from Macedonia
For the last five years, ISC has supported the development of civil society organizations in Macedonia. We have worked with 150 nonprofits in 34 cities throughout the country, building their capacity to meet local community needs.
These are some of their stories.
In June 2008, company executives from across Serbia came together to launch a Business Leaders Forum that will stimulate socially responsible practice among companies in Serbia, supporting and encouraging companies—and their employees—to contribute to social and environmental causes as part of their everyday operations.more