The article examines the relationship between NGOs and the general public in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Macedonia. This relationship is often perceived as troubled. Focus group findings, however, suggest that ordinary people’s attitudes towards local NGOs are rather more nuanced and that quite a few people would like to join an NGO themselves, if given an opportunity. NGOs should therefore make more effort to tap into this potential, by providing more and better information about their activities available to the general public and by being more inclusive, thus enhancing both NGO legitimacy and future sustainability in the region.

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