Ministry collects ideas for promoting charity development in Russia
The Blagosfera centre has come up with a new concept for collaborative work to promote charity which is likely to be introduced before the end of the year.
This draft concept comprises a summary of proposals received by the Ministry from NGOs, the charity sector and business interests. According to Artem Shadrin, Director for Strategic Development and Innovation at the Ministry, the proposal has not yet been agreed by Government as it is still in the process of collecting views.
The concept includes recommendations for encouraging individuals and legal entities to take part in charity work. For individuals in particular, the proposal would provide opportunities for receiving tax relief on donations from dividends, expand the scope for taking advantage of increased social tax allowances for donations, simplify recurrent payment procedures and discuss the potential for transferring some of the proceeds to good causes.
Proposals for legal entities relate to extending the scope of investment tax allowances on corporation tax in relation to donations. According to Shadrin, tax relief is available on legal entities’ donations across the world so the concept would legally harmonise charity donations with the financing of direct advertising by organisations which is currently exempt from corporation tax. In addition, the concept also provides for tax regulation of no-strings attached provision of food and other goods for charitable purposes, and exemption from tax on funds deposited by NGOs in line agreed criteria.
Current legislation allows the regions to determine their own tax allowance rates on profits and property. It is vital we know how existing regional tax benefit systems operate in practice, says Elena Topoleva, a member of the Federation’s Public Chamber. She is generally impressed by the quality of the draft concept document, which has been well received by the wider public. It contains more proposals than the earlier version and Topoleva feels that its development now needs to focus on what experts see as being fundamentally important rather than just tinkering at the edges.
The concept also includes proposals for clarifying the legal status of charity donations and what they can be used for, improving the regulation of specific NGO capital including charities and SONGOs within a system of compulsory bank deposit insurance, combatting and preventing fraud in the charity sector, and the regulation of rules governing the collection of donations from charity boxes.
The document includes proposals for harmonising reporting requirements for charities, for providing support for the development of a system of voluntary standards and ethical codes related to the sector, cooperation in establishing a system of training for charity staff, as well as modernising teaching standards. In addition, participants in the wider public debate have suggested supplementing the concept with a commitment to promote a charity culture.
The document includes reference to international collaboration (this is about developing joint working practices and promoting an exchange of experience in supporting and implementing various charity projects), information support for the charity sector and for charitable activities undertaken in Russian Federation regions.
In particular, the authors believe that the concept’s implementation will provide more support and public participation in charity work, lead to an increase in donations and in the number of charities involved in developing pragmatic solutions to social problems, improving the effectiveness of charitable projects, as well as enhancing the quality of people’s lives.
There are also plans to include proposals that support long-term charity projects, said Shadrin. He explained that there are certain social problems and challenges that can only be resolved through committed and sustained efforts. Fast results are important but so too is a clear strategic focus. All aspects of the previous concept have already been realised in full. “Although ten years have passed, the concept isn’t time-limited and we now have experience of the implementation phase. We very much hope that the concept will be put into practice once officially approved”, he added.
The previous document called the “Concept for the Promotion of Charitable Activities and Volunteering in the Russian Federation” was agreed by the Russian Government in 2009. It recommended that area executive authorities take the concept’s provisions into account when drawing up regional socio-economic development projects.
The revised version is being prepared at the behest of Russia’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev.