среда, 5 октября 2011 г.

Synergy of business and heart

If you have a job or some income, then almost every day you have to solve the difficult moral problem: whether to give alms to beggars and the needy, who await you on almost central street. But then questions arise: To everyone or every second person? Every day or only on Tuesdays? In coins or notes? Only for bread or also for a shot of vodka? Yet these questions are so difficult that they often remain unsolved.

This is a problem. Yet this was solved by one compassionate English woman, about whom Victoria Andersen, the professional benefactor and philanthropist, director of programs and operations of UnLtd (a British charity), representative of the consulting council of Philanthropy UK and a member of the board of directors of Venture Partnership Foundation, recently spoke in Kyiv. The woman got acquainted with homeless people who lived not far from her house and gave a few singing lessons. It was like a pebble thrown from a mountain top. People started listening to the amateur singers and, of course, paying for this pleasure. Eventually, a good repertoire, suitable for recording a disc was formed. Sponsors and customers were found. The former homeless people got a chance to earn money for a decent existence and reintegrated society.
Andersen knows many stories like this one, but she also spoke about a new form of philanthropy — venture charity. According to her, this is a synergy of mind, business and heart, which becomes effective due to social entrepreneurship that can assess risks and aims at helping those who need this help. In particular, in England it was always easy to gather money to help children and animals, but few wealthy people agreed to participate in activities directed to, say, the resocialization of people who left prison. But the ways are changing.
Olga Alekseyeva, the director of the Philanthropy Bridge Foundation, popularizes new innovative approaches to the organization of efficient charitable projects. She tells a touching, even biblical story about how a poor family in China was given a doe rabbit with only one condition: when the poor people get on their feet, they will help others as well. This approach is actually known since the time of Christ. But in China, according to Alekseyeva, it gained a new life. At present there are many powerful companies, which started with a “presented rabbit” and now more than compensate their purpose-oriented investment in society.
But modern philanthropy is not only about money. It is also knowledge, skills, connections and a big variety of different resources that can be used for advancing creative ideas or are in some way directed to fighting poverty. It is also important to support charitable organizations, making their profits stable. The executive director of the Russian forum of donors Nataliya Kaminarskaya speaks about new trends in the charitable community — the so-called subscription to monthly payments to charitable organizations turned out to be very promising.
Another interesting phenomenon is the growth of the number of volunteer organizations and their activities. A really creative approach, encompassing such topics as, for example, helping the elderly, is one of their outstanding features. In her opinion, the volunteer movement “No to litter!” is very promising. Kaminarskaya supposes the mass charitable movement of people, who are not rich but do care problems of the country and the world, is taking form in Russia.
What is done in Ukraine? The people’s deputy Olesia Orobets is one of the authors of the bill on charity. Characterizing it, she says it presupposes as little as possible regulation of this activity. She expects that the bill will be approved in the near future, since it is supported by four out of five parliamentary parties.
Answering The Day’s questions, she said that this is what she hopes for the most in the development of charity: creating legislative conditions for it by the state or growth of people’s welfare, as a result of which they will be able to invest more money in philanthropy. She said she hopes for either of the two options. “Because charity,” says the people’s deputy, “means repudiating the idea that one should rely on the state in everything, it’s an attempt of citizens to solve problems independently. All together, a little from everyone, helping those who are in the most difficult situations. Not always these are very rich people. Judging from my experience, it is usually people who do not have a lot of money but with big hearts, that are involved in charity.” 

Vitalii KNIAZHANSKY, for The Day