In Finland, civil society organizations and think tanks receive a bulk of their funding from what Lasse Pipinen, CEO of Libera Foundation, calls the “state lottery and gambling monopoly.” Under the current law, in exchange for lottery money, civil society organizations refrain from criticism of the lottery monopoly or government monopolies in general. This dependence on public funding dampens all criticism towards state intervention.
Libera Foundation is an Atlas Network partner seeking to expose the influential role that this government monopoly has on civil society organizations, while encouraging the public and elected MPs to advocate for change.
Libera produced a database that highlights government involvement in civil society organizations. The database includes the most major central government grants to civil society organizations and aims to educate the broader public on government’s involvement in the civil society process. The lottery functions as a legal slush fund for favored civil society organizations, but is still very popular mainly because of its enormous advertising spending.
The initiative has made funding of civil society organizations a top concern among Finns, garnering over 175,000 hits on the new database and over 40 media appearances. Public opinion is already beginning to shift, and many people have been astonished by the level of grants they’re seeing in the database. While the removal of this monopoly is a difficult and long-term goal, Libera Foundation is leading the charge.