Business: charity, fundraising and partnerships

Business is cutting charity budgets, focusing instead on fundraising and partnerships

 03.02.2015, Moscow

The results of a January survey as part of the “Barometer of Crisis” project have shown a downward trend in funding for charity. Last December, companies were talking of relative stability in financing for the social sector, which has seen a gradual reduction in budgets and a decrease in January 2015 in the number of projects and programmes compared to 2014.

The “Barometer of Crisis” is a project run by the Donors’ Forum aimed at monitoring the growth of corporate charity in the current economic environment within Russia. Short surveys of representatives from large firms responsible for implementing social policies were conducted at the end of each month, with the results posted on the website. The project got underway in December 2014. The first survey in which 30 domestic and international firms took part, and which undertake charitable work in Russia, showed relative stability in company financing for the third sector, together with a commitment to the growth in corporate volunteering.

In the January survey in which 32 companies participated, some of the questions directed at company representatives were changed. Whereas the previous month’s survey dealt with personnel policy solely as regards small units with responsibilities for charity work, the January questionnaire asked about staff issues as a whole. Two new questions were added: What changes to the range of programmes will be made during 2015, and what measures will be put in place by companies to deal with emergencies? As mentioned above, the results revealed a negative trend in funding for charity programmes compared to data from the 2014 survey. Just over half of respondents stated that charity budgets remained at 2014 levels. Four companies had increased their charity budgets, while 8 had reduced funding in this area. Five of the latter had also noted a decrease in the number of projects compared to 2014. In all, 11 companies had seen a change in their range of projects and programmes. Six of these firms had increased the number of projects, whereas 5 had seen a reduction in this area.

Major changes in personnel policies have also been noted. Two companies observed a trend towards reducing staff numbers, whereas 3 had increased their overall complement. Five companies stated that they wouldn’t consider any emergency measures in terms of support for social projects, while 2 of these had no plans to introduce such steps at present as they were deemed unnecessary. The remaining companies reported up to 5 different types of emergency measures. Of those asked, 13 companies are revisiting their priorities for charitable work.

The most popular emergency measure remains the growth in volunteering (14 companies). As many companies indicated that they had plans to raise additional resources through fundraising activities, and/or increasing private donations among staff and customers. A third of companies plan to develop partnerships with other businesses in the social sector.

The growth in volunteering as an emergency measure is not surprising, according to representatives from Evolution and Philanthropy. In their view, partnerships with other businesses have been taking place in a targeted way in recent times. As far as fundraising among staff is concerned, we’ll have to wait and see how successfully this can be done during times of crisis and when money is tight, they added.

Partnerships with other businesses in the social sector are a new area for the Donors’ Forum. Some firms have been talking about their intention to engage in partnerships for the last year or two, but in reality there are very few examples. Of greater interest is the fact that more and more companies are now talking about this in light of the new economic environment, according to the Donors’ Forum.

The 11th Annual Conference on “Charity in Russia” organised by Vedomosti will include discussions on how to create the proper conditions for encouraging effective charity partnerships that reflect the hopes and expectations of stakeholders such as society, the media and state authorities, as well as creating similar arrangements between institutional donors.

Author: Yulya Vyatkina

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