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This article concerns the issue of interactions between socially oriented nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and families with socially disadvantaged children whom such organizations are seeking to help. In the Russian regions, especially in rural areas, the employment of modern concepts in the investigation of NGOs as driving forces and results of social activities of the population revealed that these organizations often function quite separately from the community and maintain close links to government social services providers. We analyzed a wide range of factors that could decrease the gap between NGOs and the population. To investigate this issue, we used the results from several international research projects conducted by an international team in Nizhniy Novgorod Oblast in 2010–2015. Nizhniy Novgorod Oblast can be viewed as an average Russian region in terms of social and economic development. In our research, we invited leaders of NGOs—mainly those providing support to families—from several districts of the region and local families already in contact with NGOs. We also invited those who could potentially be interested in this cooperation, such as families with many children, families in difficult situations, and foster families. Based on our findings, we argue that relationships between NGOs and families depend on contributions from both sides. On the one hand, these relationships are shaped by the internal situations of NGOs, including the specifics of their creation, their ways of cooperation with state organizations, their funding sources, and the types of services they provide. On the other hand, the level of trust, the attitudes of people towards NGOs, the experience of engagement with particular NGOs, and the development of social networking within local communities also create some barriers and opportunities for cooperation between people and NGOs. Investigation of the mutual links between NGOs and different social groups can be helpful for understanding the development of the third sector in Russia as a whole and might provide valuable insights for NGO activists who would like to improve their activities.
Article in English.
NGOs, Local Community, Grassroots Activities, Social Services for Families
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