Our Italian TGE partner, Fondazione Donor Italia, conducted an interview with Primoz Sporar from SKUP – Community of Private Institutes, the Slovenian member of TGE. Here below you will find the English version of the interview, and you can click on the link at the end of this article for the Italian version.
For the last 20 years, Primoz Sporar has been working in the non-governmental sector, involved in many different initiatives, projects and activities. During the last decade, he was mostly focused on the development of the social economic sector, on impact investment and on social innovation. As representative of the third sector, he has also been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels for the last 15 years.
FDI: Can you tell us about the origins and subsequent development of SKUP?
Mr. Sporar: SKUP was established in 2009 as a private initiative of several individuals trying to organise private institutes in Slovenia. We thought this specific legal form – comparable to limited companies but focused on social impact and not-for-profit nature – could play a more important role in Slovenia. Since 2011 is SKUP, together with private financial fund Fund 05, a limited not for profit company and social enterprise, a member of private “Not for Profit” group.
SKUP grew based on grants and financing from public funds and from EU projects, becoming more and more interested in the long-term and sustainable social innovations that would help solving societal challenges. Being a part of Not For Profit group oriented SKUP into innovative projects on social impact bonds, social impact vouchers, alternative ways of financing activities in public interest etc.
FDI: What are the main achievements and milestones of the foundation’s activities? Is there any particular project you are working on, or have worked on, that you would like to tell us about?
Mr. Sporar: From an European perspective, SKUP is a micro organisation, mostly working at regional and local level. But at the same time; SKUP co-operates in some initiatives that are of interest also at European level. For example, our “impactisation” activities resulting in making products, services and industries more in public benefit is of interest also among the bigger EU stakeholders.
FDI: What are the main characteristics of the philanthropic sector in Slovenia? How many grant-making foundations exist and what are the most important issues they are working on?
Mr. Sporar: Slovenia has a long philanthropic tradition. As in other countries, it is mostly present in traditional areas such as social protection, health, education, environment protection etc. Slovenia has over 28.000 NGOs, within them also over 250 foundations trying to build financial instruments and mechanisms to tackle society challenges. Covid-19 and post Covid-19 period are bringing additional needs, and the role of effective work for foundations will even increase.
FDI: SKUP is part of the Transnational Giving Europe network, which allows you to donate with tax benefits from one country to another. Are there any tax incentives for donors in Slovenia?
Mr. Sporar: Individuals can designate up to 1 percent of their tax income for financing public interest purposes. Gifts to NPOs are not subject to inheritance and gift tax. Approximately 5 millions euros per year is gathered from this source.
Generally, corporate donors can deduct contributions to NPOs that: 1) pursue humanitarian, social, scientific, sport, cultural, health, educational, environmental, religious or other general public benefit purposes; and 2) are registered to do so. The maximum deduction is 0.3 percent of all taxable income. Additionally, they can deduct up to 0.2 percent of all taxable income for contributions to voluntary associations with a public benefit status in the field of protection against natural and other disasters.
But in the light of TGE, the challenge remains to increase the involvement of Slovenian donors and beneficiaries into cross-border donations.
FDI: SKUP just became Chair of Transnational Giving Europe: what opportunities does this represent for you? Do you have any particular plans for your year as chair of the network?
Mr. Sporar: TGE is playing an important role on the European philanthropic map. Knowledge, resources, local grassroots of its members gives a unique position, both being aware of local and regional challenges as also being in position to strategically influence decisions at EU and national levels. Obviously the impact of Covid-19 demands even better coordination and synergies between all stakeholders. So, beside “internal” challenges, TGE has to assure sustainable and effective growth. We also need to focus on strengthening dialogue with other stakeholders. Both due to raising needs as also to improve impacts of our activities. Motivating people for active citizenship, ensuring a safe and transparent environment for donations and cross border donations remains an important goal. With Slovenia chairing EU presidency in 2/2 of the 2021, we also hope to strengthen the TGE role towards EU priorities and goals.
FDI: You worked for several years at the European Economic and Social Committee, with a unique perspective on the changes that have taken place in the European Union. How has the Third Sector changed in the last 15 years in your opinion? What changes do you expect or hope to see in the future in the non profit world?
Mr. Sporar: The world is facing more and more complex challenges, not only related to Covid-19, but also migrants, climate etc. It is obvious that this demands better cooperation and new relationships. The third sector recognised this challenges and is well prepared to play an important role in minimizing harm. The challenge, in my opinion, remains in answering the question to which level third sector “overtakes” the role that should be played by states and governments. In think there is no dilemma, governments should assure worthy social conditions for all citizens, and third sector priorities should not only be filling gaps in services but mostly focus on building more complex and sustainable partnerships where governments are not able to perform alone. This demands our focus also on preventive and long-term work rather then only “extinguishing social fires”.
FDI: In our last meeting, you expressed the idea of TGE stepping forward as an example of expertise as a network and as experts of philanthropy, to advocate for stronger institutions and to foster the core values of active citizenship. What are your hopes and expectations for the TGE network?
Mr. Sporar: I think TGE has a great team and great members. Present times demand authenticity, action, building trust and confidence for people in needs and TGE is well positioned for that, not only as a vehicle for cross border donations.
Our role should be to guide, support and motivate people to do something good and to show empathy, but also assure that good gestures have the desired impact and are matched effectively with the needs.
I strongly believe TGE will grow also in the future. Impact will strengthen within the organisation, within members, towards partners and other stakeholders and foremost towards our target groups and society challenges.
Read the entire interview in Italian here, on Fondazione Donor Italia’s website.
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