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Lithuania/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.3 Associations of citizens, advocacy groups, NGOs and advisory panels

Since the 1990s, the number of registered non-profit organisations has grown. In Lithuania non-governmental organisations are founded under three laws: the law on associations, charity and sponsorship funds, and public establishments. According to data from the Lithuanian Centre of Registers the number of non-governmental organisations has grown 17-fold since 1994. In the first four years of independence there were 1 302 organisations registered, while in 2011 there were 22 246 registered non-governmental organisations. The majority of non-governmental organisations (67%) have the legal status of associations. The network of NGO organisations in Lithuania is sparse: the average number of NGOs is 2.7 per 1 000 people. Most NGOs are concentrated in the two biggest cities of Lithuania – Kaunas and Vilnius. The majority of NGOs are small / micro and are oriented towards social and educational or service spheres. Absence of a clear definition of a non-governmental body and lack of eligible support mechanisms impede healthy development of the NGO sector, including partnerships with public and private sectors.

Today, the Lithuanian NGO sector remains weak, fragmented and largely unexplored. An analysis of the development of the non-governmental sector in Lithuania reveals two trends: first of all, in the 20 years that have passed since democracy was institutionalised in the country the number of NGOs has grown significantly. Secondly, the number of citizens taking part in their activities remained stable or grew only within the boundaries of confidence.

On 6 February 2013 the NGO Programme Lithuania was opened. The Programme is funded by EEA Grants, and thematically is focused on human rights and aims to build the capacity of non-governmental organisations. The overall objective of the Programme is strengthening civil society development and enhancing the contribution to social justice, democracy and sustainable development. Strengthened bilateral relationship between Lithuania and the Donor States – Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein are also key tasks of the Programme. Among the projects are such "Religious diversity awareness and its dissemination in Lithuania", "All differen - All equal: Human rights, active participation and variety", etc., which include cultural sector as well. The end of the first call for proposals was at the end of 2014. Total funding throughout the Programme is EUR 4 640 664 (LTL 16 023 284) (see more:

There are several important private culture and art institutions functioning as NGO's or having the other legal status of for example "Europos parkas" - Open Air Museum of the Centre of Europe in the outskirts of Vilnius. In 2001, the private museum - open air exhibition of Former Soviet Monuments in "Grūtas" park - was opened. During the last decade the institution, functioning as an NGO, became very popular among Lithuanian and foreign tourists and developed a complex of various cultural and tourism activities (art gallery, museum, zoo, entertainment industry, education, etc.; see:

However, there is no elaborated audit and monitoring system within the third sector. In some cases, the state acts as a co-founder / establisher. Not all NGOs can be seen as promising and innovative, and their number has decreased in recent years. On the other hand, the potential development of NGOs will depend on partners and the co-operation of the state, private and independent institutions.

The Centre of Civic Initiatives (Pilietiniu iniciatyvu centras) was established in 1998 and functions as an NGO. It aims to stimulate society's participation in public and political life, to inform, research, propose and discuss actual problems of communities, and to ensure the main principles of democracy and human rights.

Volunteering in Lithuania has also grown during the last decades. 1% of the GDP of Lithuania is generated by volunteering. There are around one thousand NGOs that involve volunteers in their activities. According to the Eurobarometer survey in 2011, 24% of Lithuanians were involved in a voluntary activity on a regular or occasional basis. The majority of  Lithuanian volunteers (84%) prefer voluntary work in environmental protection (see: research study by Company "TNS Gallup" in 2008 (for more information see at:

Chapter published: 11-12-2014

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