Seven out of ten Hungarians would support CSOs


A new study, commissioned by Civilisation coalition and Political Capital broughts more detailed, and in some way unexpected results. Although there are unclarities as to what civil society comprises of, more than one tenth of the respondents (or someone they directly know) has already received help from a civil society organisation (CSO). Conversely, many people are ready to help  CSOs: every third respondent has already supported an organisation and 70 percent of people are willing to do so in the future.

In recent years,the relationship between civil society and politics has been a recurrent topic of public debate. However, there was little data or recent analysis available concerning the attitudes of citizens towards civil society and their trust in CSOs - up until now.

The study is based on a representative opinion survey conducted by Median polling agency, and shows that the concept of a CSO is rather vague. People - appropriately - tend to identify associations and foundations with them, particularly if these legal status is apparent in the name of the organisation. At the same time, both the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, but even the Red Cross was guessed to be a CSO  by only 50% of the respondents. On the other end of the spectrum, 75% do not consider trade unions, chambers of commerce and employer organisations as CSOs.

Don’t forget about politics!

People think civil society actors should most importantly provide help for those in need, and offer the opportunity for citizens to take action for the common good. In addition, the majority of respondents believe that CSOs discuss political issues as well. Even pro-government voters - although to a lesser degree than opposition voters - consider it necessary that CSOs speak up in public matters and offer proposals to politicians and state institutions.

Considering the ambiguous relationship between the current government and civil society, it may be surprising that to two-thirds of the respondents say that CSOs should call attention to the shortcomings of and errors made by state institutions and the government. This view is even shared by 60% of pro-government voters.

Who helps the helpers?

The vast majority (70%) of people show willingness to support CSOs in the future, although only 36% did so earlier, mostly by assigning 1% of their personal income tax to them.

According to  responses, people who do not help justify it with lack of time, little knowledge about CSOs and their respective work, while distrust or scepticism about the effectiveness of CSOs play a role merely for 25% of the people. This resonates with another finding of the survey, i.e. that only every third respondent was able to name a national level CSO, and even fewer a local one.

Readiness to help CSOs shows a great variety depending on the subject. Most people would support organisations working for the protection of the environment, children’s rights or health care, while LGBT* and ethnic minority issues are the least popular.

The study reveals that commitment towards a CSO increases with experience in civil society: those who helped an organisation once, are much more likely to do so in the future, too - regardless of the subject. Thus, there is plenty of ground for CSOs to build on, but must do more to improve the visibility of their work and results.


The study (in Hungarian) can be downloaded here.