Donors’ Forum report on charities in 2015
According to information in the Donors’ Forum Fifth Annual Report, fundraising charities have for the first time come top in the list of charitable organisations, relegating private ones into second place. Experts believe that charities need to place more emphasis on transparency and openness about their activities, as well as evaluating performance.
Five types of charities are considered in the report, i.e. private, corporate, fundraising, local community and special purpose capital. The report includes statistical and analytical data, together with an analysis of in-depth interviews conducted with representatives from different charities. Particular attention was given to the 2015 theme of a cultural evaluation of donor organisations and a content analysis of charity work in the media. The report also highlights basic trends and future prospects for the charity sector, as well as publishing last year’s results.
The report is based on information provided by charities marked on a donors’ activity *map, a special resource that has been developed by the Donors’ Forum for the collection and reporting of work undertaken by charities in Russia. By the end of last year, 106 organisations had entered data on the map, 76 of which provided details of their total budget which, in all, amounted to 9.4 billion roubles. Having analysed the financial performance of charities from the map, the report’s authors concluded that despite a variation in the number of charities that provided financial data for different years, the volume of annual budgets themselves had not shown a noticeable decrease and that there was no question of a serious downturn in funding by charities.
“In percentage terms, charities’ budgets are growing. In interviews with researchers, representatives from various charities pointed out that the economic climate had changed and that questions of financing and the effective use of resources were increasingly on the agenda. So, an increase in budgets is a good sign”, said Oksana Oracheva, CEO of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation,
“Fundraising charities have come out on top in the list of charities, having narrowly overtaken private ones, which have held sway in recent years. One possible reason for this is an increase in the overall number of fundraising charities which submitted data for 2015. It is quite likely that this could be the start of a trend we’ll see more of in future”, the report says.
The most popular areas supported by charities remain training, education, culture, the arts and helping socially vulnerable groups which is a typical trend for many countries worldwide. Experts explain this by saying that contributing to education is an investment in people for the future. “Charities want to work for the next generation. For culture, it’s all about creating the proper environment. It is these most general of support areas which enable us to operate in these rather difficult times”, said Oksana Oracheva.
Less popular areas identified were economic development, civil society and protection of the natural environment. Experts say that more needs to be told of the experiences of particular charities in these areas as to why their support is so important in terms of future work.
Having read the report, Irina Mersiyanova, Director of Civil Society and NGO Studies for the National Research University at the Higher School of Economics, stated that more attention needed to be paid to quality of life issues and the activities of the charities themselves. Perhaps some kind of dynamic and further professionalisation is at work here.
Mersiyanova quoted data from a study conducted by the Higher School of Economics on trust in charitable institutions. “We carried out a regression analysis to understand how strongly various aspects of trust influenced the public when they make donations and get involved in voluntary work. Three different types of trust were identified: General trust (where it’s possible to trust people in general), institutional (e.g. in an NGO) and interpersonal (trusting people in one’s immediate environment). Trust in an NGO was more important for those engaged in voluntary work than people who made cash donations. Charities needed to be more open and transparent about their activities”, she added.
The report notes that the country’s present difficult economic situation had the greatest impact on the work of charities during 2015. Increased labour costs for each rouble brought in have led to a reduction in sources of funding. “Few would argue that these are difficult socio-economic times. On the other hand, we’re not witnessing a dramatic fall in cash flow activities. In this sense, we should be talking about some kind of charity safety margin that already exists within the sector. The economic crisis has not got so far as to vigorously shake off built-up inertia”, said Maria Chertok, Director of Russia’s Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).
Igor Sobolev, Deputy Chair of Moscow’s Public Relations Committee said that it was important for charities to develop their own internal evaluation procedures. “Charities need to evaluate what success looks like in their work. Starting next year, our Committee will devote up to 5% of our total grant to conduct an internal review of our performance”, he added.
You can access the Donors’ Forum report via: http://www.donorsforum.ru/projects/annual-report/doklad-2015-goda
Author: Yulia Vyatkina