Changing profile of Russia’s philanthropists

The portrait of the average philanthropist has changed in Russia


The Vera Hospice Foundation and the British School of Design have carried out a major study.

The study included qualitative and quantitative surveys of almost three thousand respondents, including both volunteers and supporters of the Vera foundations and other NGOs, as well as individuals who have no formal relationship with the charitable sector.

“Results from the survey will help us to alter stereotypical assumptions about the charitable sector and to make sure decisions when introducing new projects and developing innovative fundraising formats are underpinned by concrete quantitative evidence”, said Anna Skorobogatova, director of the Vera Foundation.

Only 13% of those surveyed openly discuss their charitable deeds.

Around 9% said that they did so with friends. Almost half of the respondents (46%) only talk about their charitable work with their closest friends and family, explaining that they “do not want to boast” or that people simply “are not interested”. A third of respondents (33%) stated that they do not discuss this aspect of their life with anyone at all.

Many of those surveyed said that any praise would be embarrassing: “I just transfer a small amount of money, there isn’t really much to say about it”. Others, on the other hand, think that it is better to help a little, than do nothing at all. They, however, are not prepared to discuss this openly because “the amount donated would not merit the respect that would come from those around them”. Religious reasoning is also prevalent – “Do not let your left hand know what the right is doing”.

Why people give to charity

Many give to charity out of empathy. This is particularly true for spontaneous donations, such as when someone sees a targeted appeal on social media. Many donors also recognise that they want to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. A few respondents (such as those from families with a child who has been seriously ill) started helping others after they themselves benefited from charitable support.

Almost a third of people felt that charitable donations “are necessary”. For some this is because “they have been brought up to think in this way” (for example by parents, grandmothers, grandfathers and teachers), others attributed their decision to religious reasons, while a third are governed by the principle that “when you have finished washing and dressing in the morning, you must tend to your planet. I help charities in order to live in a better world”. For many it is crucial that friends and family support their charitable deeds. If those close to them do not approve, they will rapidly cease providing support.

Who are today’s philanthropists?

Researchers came to the conclusion that in Russia the profile of the average philanthropist has changed.

In 2016 and 2017, the typical philanthropist was a woman, over 35 with a university degree, children and a strong sense of individual responsibility. Now it is men and women over 25 currently enrolled in further education and with a strong sense of civic responsibility.

The most common archetype amongst donors and volunteers is the “Saviour” (37%) where their central requirement is to help others. The second most common is the “Cultivator” (18%) who seek to fill their life with meaning and have an impact on the world around them. The third most common is the “Messiah”, whose main goal is to help people and to do good.

Why people do not give to charity

Almost half (47%) of those surveyed believe that affluent people and large companies should be the ones giving to charity and almost a quarter of respondents (24%) in principle do not understand how to become involved in charity.


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