Philanthropy in Modern Western Society
Dr. Stefan Toepler of George Mason University (U.S.) is a recognized expert in research on the non-profit sector and the author of more than 70 publications in international journals. He will present a paper at the upcoming seminar of HSE’s Centre for Studies of Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector (CSCSNS), which will take place on June 26 and focus on the topic, ‘New Forms of Public-Private Partnership in the Field of Philanthropy in the U.S.’. Dr. Toepler gave a special interview to the HSE news service.
— What role does philanthropy play in modern Western society?
– Philanthropy plays a very important role in Western society, though it is not always well recognized. Philanthropy can complement the government by supporting causes and issues that are outside the state's usual obligations. Philanthropy can also provide crucial funding to help stimulate social innovation and to improve the services available to the public, or to draw attention to issues that may benefit society in the future. Philanthropy, in a way, serves as venture capital, not for business, but for society at large.
— How would you evaluate Russian society in terms of charity work and philanthropy?
— As the important work of my colleagues here at HSE’s Centre for Studies of Civil Society and Nonprofit Sector (CSCSNS) has shown, charity work and philanthropy are still developing in Russia, but a lot of progress has been made in recent years. So while there is still room to grow, I am very optimistic about future prospects.
— We see that more and more young people are interested in volunteer work here in Russia. What is the driving force behind that? How would you suggest involving more people, particularly young people, in social activities?
— I believe that volunteering is something that speaks easily to young people in particular, as it touches on their idealism and willingness to help improve society. It also instills a sense of social purpose and connectedness. The important thing is to find a way to attract their attention at first, amid all the distractions of modern society.
— What is the role of business in philanthropy and its development? Could you please name world champions in this process? How could researchers contribute to the development of philanthropic ideas?
— Business also plays a very useful role in the development of philanthropy. In the West, it is by now expected for at least large corporations to show good corporate citizenship and to have some philanthropic program. In recent years, the trend has leaned towards cause-related marketing, which links the promotion of a corporation's product with the promotion of social causes. It was pioneered by American Express many years ago and benefits both business and NGOs at the same time. In many of cases, the exposure that NGOs receive is more important than financial support. Overall, there is a lot of innovation taking place in philanthropy and social investment around the world, which really provides broad opportunities for researchers to explore and experiment.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service
HSE University Student Development Office held its traditional Charity Xmas festival from December 1th to 5th. The event was open to HSE University students, staff and graduates, and anybody else who wished to attend. This year for the first time, it was online, but nonetheless brought together a large number of guests and speakers. The HSE News Service spoke about volunteering and charity in the Coronavirus era.
On March 18, the Older Generation Support Centre opened at HSE University. HSE News Service continues to interview students and employees of the university who are helping senior citizens through the difficulties of self-isolation by delivering medicine and food, sharing useful information, and holding online classes. Today, volunteers who teach foreign languages to pensioners speak about how they have become volunteers.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which was announced in March, is not winding down anytime soon. The coronavirus is especially dangerous for senior citizens. Due to the threat of infection, older Muscovites are spending their days in self-isolation. But many HSE students are working to ensure Moscow’s elderly don’t get too lonely by communicating with them remotely.
HSE volunteers together with the HSE Theatre have held a New Year event for the children and grandchildren of the university staff and students of the ‘Pokrovsky Kvartal’ school, where children with disabilities also study.
In honour of International Volunteer Day, which was celebrated on December 6, HSE News Service spoke with HSE student organization leaders about their volunteer work. It turns out that HSE students are very active members of their communities: from painting with children in local orphanages to helping out at animal shelters, students participate in a wide range of volunteer efforts—and have fun while doing it.
A New Year's fair, information about non-commercial organisations, masterclasses, lectures and an obstacle demonstration with a guide dog: just some of the events that occurred as part of HSE’s contribution to the International Day of Charity, which took place at HSE Central atrium on 11 Pokrovsky Boulevard.
The main channel for transmitting the value of volunteerism in Russia is from parents to children, HSE University researchers have found. Younger generations in families begin helping others as they grow up, following the example set by their elders.
The football world championship, held in Russia in 2018, gave students of Russian universities the opportunity to participate in the organization of one of the world’s largest international events. A student and a graduate from HSE’s master’s programme ‘Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation’ told the news service about their experience at FIFA and how HSE helped them to work in international teams.
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.