TSO’s in Poland name insufficient financial resources as the biggest problem. The vast majority of presently functioning non-profits were set up after the collapse of communism in 1989. Their only asset was the enthusiasm of their founders who were mere citizens. What was even more difficult was the fact that the area of typical non-profits’ activity (i.e. provision of health care, education and other social services) had been monopolized by the public sector during communism and later on, in some parts, was opened up for market competition. In the absence of any start-up capital or fixed assets, having no support from the state, and trying to earn a living in a society pauperized after the economic collapse of communism, followed by harsh liberal reforms, the new-born non-profits had very limited possibilities to become producers of institutionalized services (schools, hospitals etc.) Instead, the vast majority of them developed non-mandatory services, typically without paid employment.

The second most mentioned barrier is the unsatisfactory provision of voluntary work. This problem was reported by 1/3 of associations and foundations surveyed. Between 2010 and 2012 the average number of volunteers in organizations that depend on them decreased by 15 per cent points.

Problems concerning law and legal procedures improved between 2008 and 2012, presumable due to major amendment to the Law on Public Benefit and Volunteering in 2010. The amendment was effectively lobbied by representatives of the associations and foundations sitting on the Council on Public Benefit and led to important improvements for non-profits in their relations with local governments.

Another barrier identified by TSI research was internal conflict, due to exhaustian of leaders and the pressure to adjust to external constraints. Make sure to read the full report on third sector barriers on Poland, available for download.