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How the Soros Foundation-Moldova Supports an Open and Civically Engaged Society

In recent years, the nation of Moldova has faced political and democratic instability that has given rise to challenges that permeate its society. As a result, civil society organizations have been forced to adapt to a landscape that is ever-changing.

The Soros Foundation-Moldova is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, and nonpolitical organization that works to counteract issues that affect Moldova's civil society and to support development within the country. We spoke with Dumitru Chitoroaga, who's been with the Soros Foundation in Moldova since 1998, on how the foundation is helping Moldovan civil society take on its most challenging issues.

The Soros Foundation was founded in 1992 by financier and philanthropist George Soros. The organization, Dumitru says, "promotes the development of an open society in Moldova by developing and implementing a range of programs and activities that address specific areas of needs." The foundation defines four issue areas: Media, Justice and Human Rights, Good Governance, and Public Health.

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From Pressing Challenges to Emerging Opportunities

NGOs can request funding and support for the completion of a project by outlining its scope and the impact that it will make in one of the foundation's issue areas. In providing these resources, the Soros Foundation focuses on projects, not organizations. This focus allows for collaboration between a variety of different organizations. As a result, each organization that works on a project with the Soros Foundation takes part in shaping how the foundation is able to reach its goals.

One such project, under the Good Governance heading, was created to support local groups to promote community organizing around civic engagement. According to the Soros Foundation, "grassroots mobilization can increase the transparency and accountability of public authorities." The foundation recognizes, however, that citizens may need support in understanding what exactly this mobilization can look like.

The Soros Foundation partnered with Active Communities for a Participatory Democracy Association and the CONTACT Cahul Regional Resource Center in order to support communities in the cities of Chișinău and Cahul. These organizations provided trainings on community organizing and civic participation in local decision making, and they offered legal advice and assistance for city planning issues. All told, the Community Organizing Office, through which these programs were run, supports up to 120 people in their pursuit of developing civic leadership skills. This knowledge is crucial as Moldovan citizens work to navigate their political and social climate.

A Need to Counter Cyber Threats Quickly

The Soros Foundation's work touches a number of highly sensitive issues, including efforts to combat political corruption and increase political engagement. This puts the organization at risk for many kinds of digital threats. To ensure the security of its work and constituents, the Soros Foundation relies on Symantec software donations from TechSoup, which recently became available to 206 countries and territories around the world. "We are using Symantec Endpoint Protection to minimize the risk of damaging or leakage of our internal/confidential data," Dumitru says, "because this data is the most crucial and essential component of our organization."

The organization began using Symantec recently and requested it from TechSoup in March 2019, the first time Symantec offered solutions via TechSoup in Moldova. They sought an efficient, industry-standard solution for security. "Our previous solution didn't detect newest threats as quickly as the industry average," Dumitru says. With Symantec Endpoint Protection, Dumitru and his team can be sure they're getting the protection they — and their constituents — need.

Continuing to Build a More Engaged Civil Society

Through technology tools like Symantec Endpoint Protection, as well as the partnership of a variety of different organizations and engaged citizens, the Soros Foundation will continue to support the development of an open, democratic society in Moldova. Nonprofit technology offers enable the Soros Foundation to allocate more of its funds towards the programs and initiatives that matter most.

"TechSoup helps us to save some money on acquisition of antivirus software and spend this money for other needs like trainings, IT infrastructure improvement, and more." Dumitru says. Each dollar placed into these crucial aspects of the organization works to support the needs of citizens across Moldova.

Additional Resources: Security for NGOs