More than one in five Flemish non-profits expect to fold

Summary

Pointing to less government subsidies, 23% of NGOs in Flanders expect to be out of business within five years

‘Surprising’ figures

More than one in five (23%) Flemish non-profit and community organisations have reported that it is “probable” or “very probable” that they will have to halt their activities over the next five years. Less government subsidies is the main reason for the current concerns, according to a study conducted by Antwerp University (UAntwerp).

The research, which is part of a larger European project, surveyed nearly 700 civil society organisations on their work, political function and challenges. The survey includes sports associations, sociocultural organisations, unions, non-profits and employers’ organisations. Federal organisations are a little more optimistic than those working at the Flemish level, with 20% fearing their disappearance in five years.

The researchers, professor Jan Beyers and PhD student Frederik Heylen, were surprised by the figures, “particularly as Belgian civil society organisations have quite significant budgets in comparison with other countries,” said Heylen in a statement. About 63% of the organisations have an annual working budget of more than €100,000.

The reason cited most for the organisations’ worries is a reduction in government subsidies. More than 70% of the Dutch-speaking organisations said that this was their main challenge. The subsidies make up an average 39% of the organisations’ working budget.

The research was carried out with the financial support of the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research and the European Research Council.

Photo courtesy Damiaanactie