Bodossaki Foundation and IOBE present the findings of the first study assessing the contribution of Civil Society to the Greek economy

The study was conducted as part of the Active citizens fund programme

Multi-level contribution and significant scope for growth. This is the shortest possible description of the findings of the study on the contribution of Civil Society to the Greek economy, carried out by the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE) for Bodossaki Foundation, in the framework of the Active citizens fund programme. This is the first scientific research conducted in Greece to measure and highlight the economic dimension of the contribution of Civil Society organisations at national and local level. It was conducted through large-scale primary research and the application of appropriate economic models and sheds light on the multifaceted contribution of Civil Society in the country, as well as the significant potential for progress in the field.

According to the findings of the study, available here, the activities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) support, directly or indirectly, the production of 1.6% of the country’s GDP and the employment of 1.9% of workers in Greece. In absolute terms, the contribution to the GDP of CSOs for 2021 is estimated at €3 billion, supporting 88,400 jobs. These figures do not include the economic value of volunteering, which amounted to €357 million in 2021, corresponding to about 0.2% of the country’s GDP.

In addition, the activities of the organisations lead to a boost in Public revenue due to the stimulation of economic activity in the country, with annual amounts consistently above €1 billion, corresponding to 1.9 – 2.1% of annual State revenue in the three-year period 2019-2021. In the hypothetical case where the services offered by Civil Society Organisations in Greece would have to be provided by the State, their costs for 2021 are estimated at €2.1 to €3.2 billion.

The scale of CSOs’ activity depends to a large extent on the acceptance and support they receive from the country’s citizens. About 45.5% of the respondents said that they had financially supported an organisation over the previous 12 months (May 2021 – May 2022), with 69.4% having done so on an ad hoc basis and only 22% in a regular way. Furthermore, Greece scored low in the rankings based on citizens’ contributions and their trust in charities. In particular, it ranks second to last, 125th, based on the CAF World Giving Index for the decade 2009-2019 and 34th out of 50 countries in the World Value Survey based on the percentage of citizens who have donated to a Civil Society Organization or a political campaign. Similarly, Greece ranks 37th out of 54 countries based on the percentage of people who said they trusted charities.

The study shows that there is considerable scope for further development of the activities of Civil Society Organisations, given the relatively limited geographical scope of the organisations’ activities and the change that would be brought about in the field by strengthening the public trust in the organisations. It is essential that the organisations themselves, which operate in sensitive sectors and manage significant resources, have reliable governance bodies, implement external audit procedures, and operate with maximum transparency. Finally, it is necessary to lift the obstacles that hinder the operation of CSOs, mainly by improving the supervisory framework and the cooperation with the state in general, in order to enhance the economic contribution and the significant social impact of their activities in Greece.

The findings of the study were presented during today’s event, which took place at the Athens Conservatory and was introduced by the President of the Board of the Bodossaki Foundation, Ms Athina Dessypri and the Ambassador of Norway, Mrs Lajla Brandt Jakhelln. The results of the study were presented by Mr. Nikos Vettas, Director General of IOBE, Professor of Economics at the Athens University of Economics and Business and Mr. Svetoslav Danchev, Head of the IOBE study team. In addition, good practices of European countries and examples of a dynamic Civil Society were presented by Alexandrina Najmowicz, Secretary General of the European Civic Forum and Aage Borchgrevink, Senior Adviser at the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The event was attended by representatives of Civil Society organisations and scientific institutions.

For Bodossaki Foundation, the empowerment of Civil Society is a strategic pillar of action. The Foundation aims at developing a strong and independent Civil Society and at creating the appropriate institutional framework for its operation.

The €13.5 million Active citizens fund programme, under which the research was carried out, is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and is part of the European Economic Area (EEA) funding mechanism for the period 2014 – 2021, known as EEA Grants. The project aims at strengthening and enhancing the sustainability of Civil Society and at highlighting its role in promoting democratic processes, enhancing citizen participation in public life, and defending human rights. The Active citizens fund grant for Greece is managed jointly by Bodossaki Foundation and SolidarityNow.