The State Should Set Rules that Help Charities
On June 8, the conference ‘The State and the Charities: Together to a Common Goal’ took place at HSE. It was organized together with the Agency of Social Information, the Donor Forum, and the Blagosfera Centre. Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia, and Tatyana Golikova, Vice Prime Minister of Russia, took part in the conference.
According to HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov, surveys show that helping others has become a ‘social norm’ in Russia. The charity involves hundreds of organizations and even more people, including individuals with low incomes. Studies carried out at HSE estimate total annual donations to be at 200-250 billion roubles. Importantly, the most active areas of charity are in line with the state social policy priorities, which are mainly related to human capital development. Human capital is at the foundation of an economy’s competitiveness, and the state’s investment should be complemented by non-state investment, the HSE rector believes.
The conference included topical discussions. The results of these discussions were then presented to the Prime Minister. Lev Jakobson, First Vice Rector of HSE, mentioned the inconsistencies in legislation that create obstacles for non-profit organizations. For example, the concept of a grant has different interpretations, and small non-profit organizations simply don’t have qualified lawyers to sort out these details. In addition, the annual audit is a very costly procedure and crowdfunding lacks legal regulation altogether.
Dmitry Polikanov, Chair of the Donor Forum Council, believes it’s necessary to transform the system of social support in order to support entire families, including children, seniors, and disabled members. A system to monitor their needs is also necessary, so that the people in need ‘appear on the charities’ radar’. Important areas of collaboration between non-profit organizations and the state include staff training, education for social workers, volunteers, and sign language interpreters.
Charity funds, non-profit organizations and companies with corporate social responsibility programmes took part in the conference.
Natalia Kaminarskaya, Director of the Blagosfera Centre, spoke about the use of modern technology in charities, and suggested facilitating the registration procedure for small non-profit organizations by making it an online process. Elena Topoleva-Soldunova, Director of the Agency of Social Information, believes it’s important to promote charities and volunteering in the media, and to develop the relevant media resources and social advertising. She maintains that the rules around such advertising on TV aren’t clear enough. In relation to her point, Yaroslav Kuzminov suggested launching a student social ad competition at the HSE Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design.
Dmitry Medvedev commented on these reports and emphasized that ‘the state and the charities should pursue the same goal’. He doesn’t agree with popular opinion which states that charities are forced to do the job that should be done by the government, and yet the government fails to provide the funds. According to Dmitry Medvedev, it is common in developed countries that the state and non-profit organizations ‘interact and complement each other’.
The main task of the state is to set up ‘reasonable rules that help non-profits and charities do their job’, and such rules ‘shouldn’t be repressive’. This is why the Prime Minister is doubtful that crowdfunding needs to be strictly regulated: too much regulation may hamper its development, and it is a particularly important tool for non-profit organizations.
Dmitry Medvedev agreed that the system of support for individuals should be transformed into a system of support for low-income families. He also said that the government will discuss regulations to facilitate the procedure for businesses to give away non-conforming products (for example, those with packaging errors that are still of high quality) to charity.
Tatyana Golikova, Vice Prime Minister of Russia, in turn, asked HSE to compile the suggestions expressed at the conference in one paper which can then be used by the government to outline specific regulations. She said that she would engage with the relevant ministries in order to discuss issues such as prolonging discounts on insurance contributions for certain non-profit organizations.
Practically all events hosted by HSE Lyceum are accompanied by a charity fair organized by the student group, Charity Market. Money made from the market is donated to the animal support fund ‘Pick up a Friend’ and to the Kozhukhovsky Shelter, with whom Lyceum students have been cooperating for several years. The HSE news team has the latest news their interesting extracurricular projects.
A project by ICEF student Evgeny Pasnyuk started out as a fairly unsuccessful attempt to collect money for charity, but now his water branded ‘Simple Good’ is available in shops, cafes, and food courts across Moscow. Evgeny is confident that social entrepreneurship in Russia is only starting to develop, and that it will get easier in time.
Altruism based on individual values is changing Western society. People in Western countries have seen a rise in individualism for quite some time, and this in turn helps to create generations of people with altruistic mindsets. Christian Welzel, Chief Research Fellow in the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (HSE and Leuphana University of Lüneburg), teamed up with researchers from the University of Lausanne to conduct a study showing the connection between emancipative values and prosocial behaviour. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.
On March 11, 2017, HSE will host the ‘Heroes Among Us’ charity festival. The month leading up to it is Good Deed Month, organized by the Open Your Eyes student project. People are encouraged to use this month to do good. Check out the ideas below – having a big positive impact doesn’t always mean putting a lot of effort in.
The belief that the non-profit sector is mainly supported by private donations is nothing but a myth. According to Natalia Ivanova's study Foreign Experience of Government's Impact on Philanthropy and Its Applicability in Russia, government support accounts for a substantial part of charity budgets.