Discussion of new Russian charter on volunteering
A public discussion took place on the Charter on the Development of Volunteering in Russia by 2025 at the Blagosfera centre in Moscow.
Elena Topoleva, Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, highlighted that not just any old bureaucrat wrote the strategic document about volunteerism, rather it is the result of the work of all interested parties: experts, volunteer organisations and agencies. “The charter will be discussed in the Public Chamber in the near future and there is also time to discuss comments and additions and to add them to the document”, she announced.
Earlier on in the Russian Parliament, an action plan was signed to promote the development of volunteering. The normative act, developed by the Ministry of Economic Development together with the Public Chamber and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, aims to develop the voluntary sector, attract people into volunteering and create mechanisms to advance charitable work.
According to the director of the Department of Strategic Development and Innovations in the Ministry of Economic Development, Artem Shadrin, the same team of experts are working on the Charter as worked on the plan of initiatives, “They (the documents) completely correspond with one another. Saying that, there are many nuances in the charter document that will then define the direction expressed in the plan”.
Shadrin says that the Charter strengthens the understanding of ‘volunteerism’ in pre-existing laws and confirms that the two Russian terms dobrovolchestvo and volonterstvo denote the same thing, eliminating any discrepancy. Furthermore, it specifies the powers of federal authorities in the field of supporting volunteering. Measures to streamline mechanisms of taxation are laid out in the document as well. It also advises state authorities to include initiatives to develop volunteering in strategic planning documents.
Vadim Kovalev, Deputy Director General of the Association of Managers, noted that corporate volunteering is outlined separately in the Charter and in his opinion is a huge ‘zone of growth’ for volunteering in Russia as a whole. He is sure that for businesses, the financial benefits are not as important as the legal basis and recognition of their social focus and the encouragement and support received from the government and media. From Kovalev’s point of view, this is exactly what will attract more workers from private companies to volunteering.
The director of the charitable fund, Starost’ v radost, Liza Oleskina, said at the meeting, that the very appearance of such a charter testifies to the fact that it is important and needed by the state. However, she called for the ‘regulation’ of volunteering by bureaucrats not to be allowed. “Red tape kills everything. The appearance of the Charter is, on the one hand, a boon that gives regions the possibility to develop volunteering, but on the other hand it is a hangman’s noose that could turn all this into a rather formal thing.”
The Charter’s text is published on the site of the Ministry for Economic Development.