Using partnerships to promote charitable work

11th Annual Conference on “Charity in Russia”. How should existing partnerships be used to promote charitable work?


27.02.2105, Moscow

How to build partnerships, how they come about, how to develop cooperation, how they start, as well as how to allocate responsibilities and maintain joint involvement until a project is completed were just some of the questions to which participants were seeking answers at the conference organised by Vedomosti and the Donors’ Forum non-profit making partnership of grant-giving bodies.

It would seem that charity partnerships are a natural thing and essential for achieving positive results. However, examples of current collaborations in Russia are very thin on the ground, explained Natalya Kaminarskaya, Executive Director of the Donors’ Forum, during her welcoming address to conference delegates. Natalya added that “Partnerships are really key in promoting charity around the world and occur at many different levels. Resources available to donors are limited, irrespective of whether we’re a large corporation or private charity. Partnerships are one of the most effective ways of combining resources to resolve particular problems”.

Conference participants likened partnerships to one of the most stable elements within society, namely the family, in which all parties help in developing the potential of each other. Each type of partnership, whether it be with society, business or the State has its own separate characteristics. For example, the private Vladimir Potanin Foundation is working in partnership with other charities to develop a number of interesting projects. “We enrich each other through the exchange of knowledge, experience and perspective”, said Oksana Oracheva, the Foundation’s Director-General. Oksana stresses the importance of collaborating with State institutions,, as in her charity’s partnership with the Ministry of Culture as this improves the effectiveness of charitable projects.

According to Vera Kurochkina, Head of Communications and member of the Board of Directors at the Rusal company, partnerships between the business community and the State in implementing social programmes help in understanding just how necessary those projects chosen by businesses really are, together with ways in which they influence the quality of life and environment across the regions. The State can also be of assistance here given the significant level of system support and administrative resources it is able to provide.

According to Elena Vishnyakova, Head of PR and Press Secretary at RusHydro, the key to a successful partnership is the need for the skills-set of one party to exceed that of the other. As an example, she cited the production of a new magazine “I want to know everything”, which was published by the State Publishing House for Children’s Literature in conjunction with RusHydro. “An important element of a successful partnership is the ability to respect the other’s opinion, to put your trust in the arrangement, and provide a range of skills. In this instance, the skills of the State Publishing House for Children’s Literature were greater than ours”, said Vishnyakova.

Conference participants identified a number of key factors necessary for a successful partnership, namely goal-setting, outcomes, balance of interests and resources, an ability to listen to and appreciate the views of others, performance-orientated, the capacity for compromise in the interests of the common goal, and a willingness to take responsibility to see a task through to the end. A partnerships, they believe, is a long-term rather than a one-off relationship.

Changing priorities are, according to experts, one of the biggest risks to long-term partnerships. “Such changes are keenly felt in partnerships with the State. People move around in a partner body at the management’s behest, and often the most interesting ideas come from the most unassuming people. Moving such people around poses a significant threat to project development”, said Vera Kurochkina.

Other risks to partnerships that experts have identified include departing from a project’s original objective, which often happens in alliances with NGOs, initial errors made in the choice of a partner and a reappraisal of individual skills.

Author: Yulia Vyatkina

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