What Is This Foreign Fund Issue? 2: Having Foreign Funds is Legitimate
Ideally, civil society seeks funds for the financial support it needs to solve the problem it has identified. Fund organizations that have an idea in their agenda to support such an issue, on the other hand, provide this support to them. In this sense, there can be nothing as legitimate as receiving foreign funds.
The mission of civil society (1) is to make an existing problem or need an ‘issue’. To take a step to solve a problem that many people, sometimes everyone is already aware of, or to meet the needs of an ignored social group. The problem or need here is to attract the attention of the relevant decision- makers to solve. To show that it is more crowded, to increase awareness, to become massive in order to make it possible to persuade decision-makers.
For example, there is a hole in the sidewalk on the street we live in. Everyone is aware and suffering. But they prefer to pass by. A visually impaired person lives on the street. One day, he has a big accident because of this pit, and this incident triggers a few people in the neighborhood now. They apply to the municipality to close this pit, but they can’t get any results because the municipality has a financial problem in this regard. Then, by collecting signatures on the street, they get people’s opinions and make more noise. The municipality cannot remain indifferent to this issue, and it seeks funds. It sees an international funding agency open a funding application on access and infrastructure. It applies to the fund and its application is positive. Thanks to the support provided, this pit is closed and several different problematic areas in the neighborhood are corrected.
Here, of course, I wrote a very simple and cartoon scenario. But actually, what we call civil society and what it does is as simple as that. The issue of getting support from foreign fund institutions is just as simple and legitimate. Ideally, civil society seeks funds for the financial support it needs to solve the problem it has identified. Fund organizations that have an idea in their agenda to support such an issue, on the other hand, provide this support to them. In this sense, there can be nothing as legitimate as receiving foreign funds.
Apart from this, there are ‘signboard NGOs’ that are project-centered and write projects according to the fund.
It is impossible to ignore them. But it is not appropriate to take the punishment for their crimes from the civil society working in various parts of Turkey and working on different issues, trying to solve something. If there is a problem here, it must be the problem of the funding institutions. Funding agencies should review their evaluation criteria and explain that they do not fund work that has no impact. When civil society sees such institutions within itself, it can take a step towards starting a process. In short, we should not expect everything from the ‘state’ (!) It is very dangerous for the future of civil society that the demands that may cause the existing mechanisms and structures to work better, but which may cause them to be cut off, find a legitimate basis for themselves. What needs to be done to try to build this future together? We can take a step to think about this together.
(1) I mean activism in every word of civil society here. They represent something similar to me. For my article on my belief that civil society should not be a concept at a distance from activism, check this out.