In developed countries non-governmental organisations serve as significant mediators between different sectors of society by playing a major role in creating open society. Promoting their ideas and rendering services to people with specific needs, they offer opportunities for individuals to exercise their civil rights and responsibilities. Seeking to safeguard the fundamental values of society, NGOs often influence policy making and urge action on issues that demand attention and solution.
The Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI), an independent think-tank, has developed indispensable skills and innovative instruments necessary to pursue its mission and enabling the LFMI’s team to frequently reap the benefits of initiated efforts. To our delight, an increasing number of people come to recognise the crucial importance of public policy research institutes in public debates. Sometimes people even encourage us to address new public policy issues. They argue that it is LFMI’s duty to deal with this and that and it is our voice and work that should be there to identify solutions to problems when others have failed.
Although successful in policy advocacy, LFMI, like most NGOs, has been facing difficulties in development and fund-raising activities. As we consciously decline governmental funding in order to remain independent and unaffiliated, our search for private sources often encounters a lack of understanding of philanthropy and reluctance to support. We are very much concerned about the fate of the Third Sector and do not want it to rely on foreign assistance alone. Therefore, it is crucial to provide foundations for NGO funding from local private sources. This process is much more than promoting non-governmental funding. It implies a continuous reduction in public spending and conscious renunciation of the paternalist state. Recognising the need to educate people about philanthropic values, traditions and perspectives, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, together with the Open Society Fund and the U.S.-Baltic Foundation, has launched a project “Promoting Philanthropy in Lithuania”. This initiative will help to raise public understanding of philanthropy and allow the business community and non-governmental organisations to contribute to the philanthropic cause.
The project will focus on evaluating the current state of philanthropic culture in Lithuania. An opinion poll will be conducted among business representatives to identify the most common factors determining philanthropic initiatives or their absence. Also, it is vital to have a closer look at people’s mentality and to analyse the impact of new wave philanthropic traditions. People will eventually realise that they should no longer pin their hopes on governmental support. Public activities should be denationalised. Heightened awareness and creation of an environment conducive to the development of philanthropy will help to promote open society and its profound values in Lithuania.