Charities value fairness over professionalism
12th Annual Donors’ Forum Conference: Russian charities identify openness of information and fairness as key values
Charities operating in Russia value openness of information and fairness higher than professionalism. These are the results of research undertaken by “Process Consulting” and presented at the Donors’ Forum conference.
The theme of the conference was “Values and motivations for modern-day charity: Horizons for development”. More than 200 people attended, comprising charity specialists, economists, sociologists, legal experts and Government representatives. Participants discussed what inspires people to commit selfless acts and whether any differences in values exist between private and corporate charities; how to motivate employees and combat professional burn-out; how to best align the respective values of managers and staff to improve an organisation’s effectiveness; the importance of PR to charities, and whether it is necessary to review and discuss the values of organisations.
Results from the research showed that foreign charities value honesty, integrity, professionalism, respect, commitment to the core aims of their work, cooperation, partnership, innovation, creativity, transparency and accountability. The values of Russian charities differ to some extent. Out of the 58 charities that took part in this research, two-thirds favoured openness of information as their most important value, i.e. having access to data on a charity’s activities, including programmes and financial structure. Russian charities also value integrity, professionalism and investment in the future. Other stated values were obeying the law, teamwork, sensible use of resources, trust, accountability and efficiency.
24 charities (41%) had an officially established set of values, while 34 (59%) did not. It will be impossible for organisations in the latter group to build on their work and move forward, according to representatives of those organisations with set values in place. However, charities who have no agreed list of values believe that such beliefs are implicit in their work and see no reason to have them set in stone, says Vladimir Balakirev, Director of Development at “Process Consulting”.
According to the research, managers, founders of charities and Boards of Directors play a significant role in determining core values (97%, 93% and 81% respectively). Partners, employees and beneficiaries are also involved, but to a lesser degree. Openness of information and honesty, rather than professionalism, influence confidence in fundraising, according to charity representatives. “If you’re not open, no-one knows or needs you”, said Lev Ambinder. “If we’re open and transparent, more people will trust us. There’s currently a crisis of confidence not only in charities, but in society as a whole”, said Anna Gaan, Executive Director of the charity “The Arithmetic of Kindness”.
There was a consensus among conference participants that the values of charities reflect the beliefs of an organisation’s founder. For example, the work of the charity “Elena and Gennady Timchenko” is a reflection of family values. “The issue of who and how to help is key. We need to work to high-quality, professional standards and continue to ask the question as to how useful our involvement really is”, said Xenia Frank, President of the Supervisory Council at the Timchenko charity. Frank explains that her charity is guided by three main principles. “Firstly, taking responsibility for our actions. We are seeking to involve leading experts to ensure that our activities are of the necessary quality. Secondly, the important principle of openness. Any long-term outcome depends on cooperation from the State, the business community and NGOs. Thirdly, the most effective way of effecting change involves finding people with potential and then investing effort in them, believing that they can be a force for change in their community”.
Values are also important to the business world. Alex Sydney, CEO of “The Senior Group” said his company’s values reflect those of its partners and investors. “Our mission is to care for the older generation and our values include respect for the individual, clients, the elderly and our employees. Professionalism is also hugely important. We send our staff on training courses and employ foreign specialists given that people need the best possible care. Safety also plays a significant role both for the elderly and our employees, together with decency”, he added.
Author: Yulia Vyatkina