What Is This Foreign Fund Issue? 1: Civil Socialist as a Hero
How can we think that civil society, which has become so 'guilty' and has to make short moves in its narrowing field day by day, will ensure its financial sustainability through mass donation methods?
Foreign funds, the resources that civil society receives from foreign countries or funds come into our agenda with a certain frequency and in different contexts. Recently, it is almost as if ‘How much do we show the civil society as “criminal” and “guilty?”’ Unfortunately, it is not very possible to find a strong answer from civil society to this debate, which seems to emerge to answer the question.
The issue of financial sustainability is an issue that is on the agenda of everyone who is somewhat specialized in civil society but has become a burden that they cannot cope with. Civil society should not depend on the fund. Let the civil socialist become massive with their own unique problem determination. Let him appear like a hero, reach thousands with a small move. Let him drag the masses behind him, collect donations from them. Let him find the money to support himself with these donations and let him do the project work to expand his idea. In the meantime, he should never get tired, everyone should be all ears to him, he should always keep people who dream of his dreams around him. Let the project be a secondary resource. But he should not earn that much money, so his name should not be involved in corruption. Always be in balance. Absolutely perfect utopia! But my 5 years of experience at YADA (About Life) Foundation and 3 years of experience at Havle Women’s Association remind me almost every month how impossible this is.
As I pointed out in the previous article, how can we think that civil society, which has become so ‘guilty’ and has to make short moves in its narrowing field, will ensure its financial sustainability through mass donation methods? Even many organizations that would seem relatively ‘less political’ are suddenly associated with a political actor, become infamous, and then face extinction. Institutions that are struggling to survive with foreign funds are also trying to struggle with the fact that these funds are called ‘traitors’ due to the bad reputation of these funds.
Here, instead of serving the idea of the illegitimacy of the fund, it is necessary to produce alternative ways or, if so, to ‘save the funds’ from the institutions. Civil society experts need to develop alternatives to an idea that doesn’t fit with Turkish society, such as a donation. Normally, such an article ends here, of course, with the transfer of responsibility to someone else… But I have a humble suggestion.
In many of the studies we have done at YADA, we have seen that civil society does not sufficiently evaluate the potential it has with its unique expertise. The access of an association dealing with a common disease to information and medicines or foods, the research skills of an association that produces information, the potential of institutions that construct and provide training to fill the existing gap in this regard. This and many similar opportunities can actually be converted into money and can be turned into a financial resource by providing services to the private sector and local governments, public institutions and international organizations through the economic enterprises of existing non-governmental organizations. It can transform in many different instances. One of the most unique examples here is the Value for Equality social initiative, which grew out of AÇEV (Mother & Child Education Foundation). What if we multiplied such examples, if we didn’t fall to the point of seeing making money as distant because we don’t fit our ‘heroic’ behaviors, and if we didn’t have to worry about money while striving for the future we dreamed of? What would it be like?