Jedis and CSOs Use the Force (of online fundraising) to Support Serbia’s Covid-19 Response

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Health worker from the south of Serbia with reusable face masks provided by the Jedi movement
Jedi movement, Serbia

While Serbia's government was rapidly mobilizing to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, Serbia’s Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) began looking for areas where they could contribute to help their communities.

Face masks for medical personnel, food and hygiene kits for homeless and other vulnerable groups as well as food for pets were all identified as urgent needs.

The one catch was that most CSOs in Serbia do not have massive cash reserves to dip into during difficult times like these.

Fortunately, as part of USAID’s efforts to strengthen the positive role local organizations can play in promoting community initiatives to tackle development problems and in encouraging community philanthropy, we helped Catalyst Balkans to redesign and relaunch a nonprofit crowdfunding platform. The platform donacije.rs allows CSOs to call citizens to action and mobilize resources for causes they believe in.

So far, six different initiatives have raised a total of more than $15K from individual citizen donations to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable groups in Serbia. Funds for urgent campaigns were able to be transferred to CSOs within 24 hours of being registered on the platform, allowing them to quickly deliver that assistance. 

So, what about the Jedis? The local Jedi Movement of Star Wars enthusiasts and humanitarians from Serbia's third-largest city Nis have already delivered more than eight thousand face masks to the Clinical Center of Nis and health institutions throughout the south of Serbia, proving that Jedis are truly dedicated to selfless acts off film as well.

“We Jedis believe that philanthropy is a powerful tool for opening up the human heart. When a human heart opens up once, it turns a person into a Jedi for good,” said Miloš Antić, the Founder of the Jedi movement from Niš. “The solidarity of people in these difficult times has been overwhelming. When someone does a good deed, that positive vibration keeps spreading. This is what we call The Force.”

Another local humanitarian organization, ADRA, is using the funds they raised to distribute food and hygiene parcels to the homeless. Meanwhile, soup kitchen guests in Serbia’s capital Belgrade are now receiving much needed hygiene supplies from funds raised through the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, another USAID partner.

Being able to quickly respond to this unexpected and life-disrupting crisis is a testimony to the crucial importance that Serbia’ emerging philanthropy infrastructure, developed with USAID assistance, is playing in helping CSOs engage with their communities and respond in times of crisis. What’s next? As the founders of the Jedi Movement would tell you…only The Force knows.

Last updated: April 27, 2020

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