The Cedar Foundation Executive Director Alexandrina Dimitrova led a workshop on “Strengthening Civil Society” within a seminar organised by the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission. The seminar entitled “Strategies for Strengthening Democracy: 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall” was organised by the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission, with the support of the US Embassy in Bulgaria and was held from 24 to 30 September 2019 in Sofia.
The purpose of the seminar was to draw attention to the challenges within the democratic environment in Eastern Europe and globally, and discuss pathways, initiatives and activities for rebuilding it.
Mrs. Dimitrova led a workshop on “Strengthening Civil Society” together with Lena Borislavova, a lawyer and a Fulbright alumna. Ms. Borislavova gave a brief overview of the legal framework of NGOs in Bulgaria, their access to the legislative process, and their role as advocates for the rights of vulnerable groups. Mrs. Dimitrova presented the issues of public image and sustainability of NGOs. She stressed on the importance that NGOs have the capacity to hire professionals in order to be able to deal with some of the toughest problems in society and achieve large-scale impact. Then the audience were challenged to participate in a practical exercise so that they could experience first-hand the everyday challenges that NGOs face when trying to attract partners and ensure resources for their noble causes. Some of the participants were in the role of Fundraising Experts, who had to meet with the rest representing the business and negotiate with them.
“Thanks to this practical exercise, the participants experienced what it was like to stand up for your cause and the integrity of your NGO, and to ask for funds in order to ensure the sustainability of your work.”, shares Alexandrina. “I was amazed at the lively discussion after the exercise, and all the relevant questions I was asked. The fact that students and experts of different backgrounds are becoming interested in the topic of NGO management, fundraising and sustainability, gives me hope for the future of civil society in Bulgaria”, adds Mrs. Dimitrova after the workshop.
Participants in the seminar were PhD, MA, BA students and civil society representatives from Bulgaria, the US, the UK, Romania, Germany, Portugal, Canada, the Netherlands and Greece.