Mission, goals and achievements

Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations, NENO (or EMSL in Estonian) is the single and largest Estonian organization uniting public benefit nonprofit organizations.

Established in 1991 as the Estonian Foundation Center, we opened our membership to associations in 1994 and have since transformed ourselves from a mere service provider into one of Estonia’s largest civic initiative organizations.

NENO is a membership organization created for the implementation and protection of the common interest of Estonian public benefit nonprofits. NENO currently (January 2016) unites 107 active and operational public benefit nonprofit organizations in Estonia from all fields, both associations and foundations. At the same time, our information network involves approx. 4000 organizations.

NENO’s mission is to give voice to and advocate on behalf of Estonian public benefit organizations and its work is dedicated to the development and promotion of civic action and civil society in Estonia.

NENO’s goals are to foster development trends and provide support services to Estonian nonprofits, increase public awareness, advocate for the interests of its members and other public benefit NGOs, and improve working relationships with the public and business sectors. Therefore we implement activities to strengthen the role and identity of the nonprofit sector as a whole.

An overview of our activities and achievements:

  • Launched a project that eventually led to the birth of the Estonian Civil Society Development Concept (EKAK) in 2002. EKAK is a document (one of the first of its kind in the world) that defines the mutually complementary roles of public authorities and civic organizations, and lays out principles and mechanisms for cooperation in shaping and implementing public policies and building civil society in Estonia. After that we have been one of the leaders of the process of EKAK implementation (action plans, joint committee, public awareness, etc).
  • Prior to the local and national elections starting from 2007 we have initiated the NGO Manifestos. In these documents, put together in a participative manner, Estonian nonprofit organizations propose to the political parties the activities to be implemented by the Parliament, government or local government, which would help to strengthen civil society and non-governmental organizations in Estonia. Several proposals of the Manifestos have been taken into account, incl. establishing National Foundation for Civil Society, financed from state budget in 2008.
  • In 2009 NENO initiated an agreement on Good Campaigning Practices for local and national elections that called for parties to finance their campaign transparently, for candidates to refrain from abusing public positions and for everyone to focus on substantive debates instead of fearmongering, personal attacks and simplistic interpretations. During the election campaigns we have acted as watchdogs, publishing our comments on whether candidates followed these principles or not. (See our observations from parliamentary elections in 2011)
  • Launched several initiatives to encourage participation in discussions and decision-making over public matters, incl. The People's Assembly in 2013 and Let's Do It "My Estonia" brainstroming day in 2009.
  • Conducted public consultations on the concept of National Foundation for Civil Society, financed from the state budget in 2007. That led to the formation of the Foundation financed with 20 million Estonian kroons (1,3 million Euros) annually in the beginning of 2008.
  • Initiated projects under EKAK that have led to the formation of several Good Practices agreements between nonprofits and public sector, namely Good Practice of the Delivery of Public Services (2006), Good Practice of the Funding (2007); NENO was also active in drawing up the Good Involvement Practices (2005). These documents harmonize the principles, from which the public sector institutions and non-profit organizations can proceed in their work.
  • Participated in the preparation of State Budget Strategy and 2007-13 program period of EU Structural Funds (2006-07). NENO was leading an advocacy coalition of NGOs formed for that purpose.
  • Honors annually civil society activists together with the President of Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) since 1997
  • Every two years, organized the National Conference of Civil Society since 1999
  • Conducts USAID CSO Sustainability Index since 2000
  • Launched a number of development projects like co-operation with local governments, good governance for Board development, philanthropy development with businesses, mapping and training Estonian umbrella organizations, etc
  • Been represented in all government committees, commented and amended all legislative documents that are necessary for the health and general environment of the nonprofit sector in Estonia
  • Worked actively in the CIVICUS national umbrellas affinity group and European Network of National Associations.
  • Organizes an annual summer school for nonprofits on various issues since 1999 (biggest training event for nonprofits in Estonia)
  • In 1999–2004, coordinated the work of NGO regional resource centers (consulted more than 3000 clients a year), eventually leading to the establishment of county development centers consulting local businesses, local governments and nonprofits, supported from the state budget
  • Developed a Civil Society Portal www.ngo.ee. The information is available also in English and Russian
  • Carries out training programs for NGOs and public sector representatives on different topics related to civil society and cooperation between NGOs and public sector
  • Is the main information provider for Estonian nonprofits, publishing weekly electronic newsletter, quarterly NGO magazine, electronic newsletters in English and Russian in every two months, handbooks and leaflets.