Key issues in promotion of cooperation of public authority and citizens’associations
For Estonian non-profit associations, participation in the formation of the life of the society means for the most part acting at a local level and cooperation contacts with local governments and other non-profit associations.
Observing the development of the third sector in 2000s, the authors highlight as a clear tendency the increasing professionalisation of some organisations and formation of symbiosis-like relationships between them and the state and local governments. On the one hand, in the opinion of the authors, this can be seen as strengthening of civil society because the third sector obtains new resources and public recognition. Unfortunately, this development concerns only a small part of the associations while the others maintain only a distant relationship with the public sector. Second, the question arises if the too close connection with the state and local governments may not lead to a situation where the same well managing citizens’ associations alienate from their role of the representative of public initiative interests. The increasing formalisation of the activities of an association and the accompanying dependency on a small number of professional leaders can be seen as one way of adapting to the requirements of the environment, the authors find. At the same time, it may happen that directing the resources towards the development of professionality will lead to abandonment of other goals and principles which were regarded as important earlier.