Elena Topoleva is Donor Forum’s Person of the Year
The results of the annual Donors’ Forum awards were announced on 20 July during a “report on the current status and development of charities in Russia”. Each year, members of the NGO partnership Donors’ Forum choose the winners from the following categories: “Person of the Year”, “Event of the Year”, “Project of the Year”, and “Publication of the Year”. Nominees are selected following a review of specialised information resources that highlight news of events taking place in Russia’s charity community.
The Forum’s Person of the Year for 2015 was Elena Topoleva, Director of the Agency of Social Information. The honour was presented to her by a former winner of the award, Nyuta Federmesser, President of the hospice charity Faith and Director of the Palliative Medicine Centre at Moscow’s Healthcare Department who said “Elena has been fabulous for the charity sector. She is a calm and measured individual who’s trusted by all sides when it comes to handling negotiations. She is well respected by State agencies and NGOs alike and when she talks about patient issues, officials listen. Elena is very adept at resolving conflicts and is someone who can be contacted day or night for advice. We are very lucky to have her working in the charity sector”.
Writing on her Facebook page, Elena Topoleva said “Thank you dear friends for acknowledging my efforts in promoting charitable work with the Forum’s “Person of the Year” award. Your support is especially dear to me! I shall do my utmost to live up to this special honour and do all I can to justify your faith in me”.
The top two “Events of the Year” can’t really be described as proper events as they involved the introduction of the “foreign agents” law and the demise of Dmitry Zimin’s charity “Dynasty”, which was included on the “foreign agents” register in May 2015. As a result, Zimin announced that he could no longer continue privately funding the organisation and that it would be closing down. By the end of 2015, 79 NGOs that were involved in foreign agent activities had been placed on the register, including the International Historical, Enlightenment and Human Rights Charity Memorial, the All-Russian Public Movement In Defence of Human Rights, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and the International Organisation for the Fight against and Investigation into Corruption Transparency International.
Another significant event in the charity sector in the eyes of experts has been the creation of the National Council for Corporate Volunteering.
The winner of Project of the Year was the play ‘Touching’. This was the first production staged by the charity Connection and the Theatre of Nations which involved both deaf and blind actors. The play’s premiere took place on 15 April last year on the small stage of the Theatre of Nations. In second place was the Good Metres project, organised by DobroMail.ru and the O1 Properties Company, which allowed charities to rent office space free of charge, on the understanding that they covered all operating and utility costs. The initiative started in November last year and by its end the Konstantin Khabensky charity, the Faith charity, the Inter-Regional Charity for Help to Stroke Victims, the Road Together charity and the Epidermolysis Bullosis: Treatment and Adaptation (EBTA) Charity’s Butterfly Children and Young Jackdaws had all acquired offices in a number of business centres. In third place was the Spiritual Bazaar project.
The winner of “Publication of the Year” was the television programme Day of Good Deeds, a weekly charity event organised by the Fifth TV Channel. It is shown every Thursday and tells the story of a particular child in need of medical attention during which viewers are able to send SMS donations to help the parents with their child’s treatment costs.
The Law Library of Documentation and Teaching Materials for the main types of fundraising activities which the Association of Fundraisers took on with financial support from the Ministry of Economic Development finished second. The library contains examples of agreements, regulations, instructions and recommendations which are required for the proper legal oversight of fundraising activities. It also holds protocols covering donations from individuals and legal entities, documents on the siting and opening of donation boxes, and instructions relating to tax reductions for Russian citizens. The library is open to the public.
The booklet “Being with Mum: Advice for parents on what to do if your child is in intensive care” was also a candidate for “Publication of the Year”. It was produced by the charity Palliative Care for Children and was written by mothers who have considerable experience of being with their children in intensive care units. It includes information on how to interact with medical staff, advice on what questions to ask, and how to deal with the emotional aftermath of such experiences.
Author: Yulia Vyatkina