Unlocking Private Capital for Social Good in Central & Eastern Europe: A Path to Sustainable Impact

Unlocking Private Capital for Social Good in Central & Eastern Europe: A Path to Sustainable Impact

Unlocking Private Capital for Social Good in Central & Eastern Europe: A Path to Sustainable Impact


The power of collective action is an incredible force for change. In the heart of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), a comprehensive study, “Unlocking Private Capital for Social Good in Central & Eastern Europe”, has just been unveiled, representing an important step towards harnessing the potential of private capital for social good across the region.

A wealth of data and insights

The report is the culmination of extensive research conducted between 2020 and 2023. It is a synthesis of 7,600 quantitative interviews and more than 230 meetings with key stakeholders from the private, public, and social sectors across 11 countries of Central & Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria🇧🇬, Croatia🇭🇷, Czech Republic🇨🇿, Estonia🇪🇪, Hungary🇭🇺, Latvia🇱🇻, Lithuania🇱🇹, Poland🇵🇱, Romania🇷🇴, Slovakia🇸🇰, and Slovenia🇸🇮. Additionally, it offers invaluable insights from Ukraine🇺🇦, a country deeply affected by an ongoing conflict.

The report delves into several key perspectives: 

  1. Country Perspective, with an overview of all 11 CEE countries, including macroeconomic and social data, the tax and legal environment, statistics on donations and volunteering, barriers to mobilizing private capital, and the expectations of different sectors for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  2. Target Group Perspective, with an in-depth analysis of insights related to ten specific target groups, including family businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), corporations, investors, the general public, NextGen, non-profit organizations, social enterprises, public administration and academia. 
  3. Knowledge Area Perspective: exploring thematic perspectives such as SDGs, tax schemes, employee volunteering, pro bono services, crisis giving, education, cooperation, and capacity building, providing valuable quantitative data and insights into the regional situation.

Special focus: Ukraine Since the war in Ukraine had a significant impact on giving in the CEE region, a separate study was conducted, analyzing foreign aid provided to Ukraine and the perspectives of its inhabitants regarding the ongoing conflict.

The social impact ecosystem of the CEE region

After three decades of free market economies, individuals and companies in the CEE have acquired both resources and a willingness to contribute to social causes. The steady economic growth of the region results in a growing wealth of society. Recent crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, have led many citizens of CEE to start giving, which they had never done before.

Now is the time for the CEE region to take concrete action to sustain this engagement and grow openness to collaboration and discussion. Building a resilient social impact ecosystem, capable of dealing with threats to media independence, democracy and the rule of law, must consist of three strong pillars:

  1. Committed individuals, businesses and investors: While social engagement in the region remains spontaneous and emotion-driven, significant untapped potential exists. With the right motivation, citizens of CEE could double their donations. Medium-sized donors, a growing population group, are willing to contribute but lack a practical approach.
  2. Strong and independent civil society organizations: These organizations are central to addressing social and environmental challenges. However, many operate on a small scale and depend on public funding. Encouraging commercial activities of non-profit organizations and promoting social entrepreneurship are crucial for sustainability.
  3. Supportive and transparent legislation: Public administration should create a favorable environment for private capital owners and impact providers. Tax incentives, less bureaucracy and transparent legal frameworks are crucial to create incentives for social engagement.

The role of Academia

Education is crucial in preparing the region CEE for the changes ahead. Raising awareness among children and young people about social responsibility and sustainability is crucial. In addition, training specialists and experts in areas such as ESG and sustainability is becoming increasingly important for the labor market.

However, despite the importance of quality education, the topic of widely understood social responsibility is still hardly included in school and university curricula.

The path forward for CEE

As most Central and Eastern European member states mark their 20th anniversary of joining the European Union, they face significant economic challenges. The shift from low-value production to innovation and investment in human capital is crucial. Private capital will play a central role in this shift.

However, the region must also address the complex issues arising from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and ensure economic security, access to resources and climate change mitigation. Political stability, cooperation within the EU and support for Ukraine are key factors on this path.

The study “Unlocking Private Capital for Social Good in Central & Eastern Europe” is not just a report but a roadmap to a more sustainable future of the region and its citizens. It highlights untapped potential and provides actionable recommendations for stakeholders to drive meaningful change in the region CEE. Now is the time for individuals, businesses, investors, civil society organizations and governments to come together to unlock the full potential of private capital for the benefit of society.