Russians tend to make personalised donations as a way to cut out administrative expenses incurred by charities. At the same time, Russian charities also complained about the lack of transparency and professional standards. However, the number of people involved in socially-oriented non-profit organisations (SONPO) is nearing one million.
Charity has become one of the main fields for responsible citizens to make their statement.
The scale of charitable activities is growing steadily every year. In terms of charitable donations vs GDP, Russia has been rated as one of the Top-10 countries worldwide (8th out of 24 ranked: 0.34% of GDP). The leaders are: the USA (1.44 % of the GDP), followed by New Zealand (0.79%), Canada (0.77%), and the UK (0.54%).
According to the Donors Forum, approximately 10% of all charitable donations in Russia represent personalised contributions from individuals, and the remaining 90% come from corporate donors. In the Western world this proportion is inverse.
According to the National Research University at the Higher School of Economics, more than a half (53%) of Russians made charitable donations in 2016. The most common form of such donations is from hand to hand. Another form of charity is the so-called mobile charity, e.g. contributions made via text messages. Between 2010 and 2018, its share went up from 1% to 12%.
In 2016, the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation has produced a report on the state of the civic society referring to the following three near-term trends in the evolution of the third sector:
The first one is the professionalisation of SONPO. This may give rise to large support infrastructures sponsored by both the government and businesses.
The second trend involves structural changes in the third sector and choices made by non-profits to bring their strategies in line with their social responsibilities.
Industry consolidation in associations and alliances.
Regional charitable activities and volunteering are also on the upswing.
The third sector has started to leverage on resource and technology innovations, such as cooperation with banks, along with crowdfunding technologies and platforms.
Russian charities face a number of challenges to overcome, such as:
Lack of trust to charitable organisations.
Despite the trend towards institutionalisation, Russians still prefer direct personalised donations. Institutionalised charitable organisations gain less support, since donors are sceptical about how their contributions will be spent.
Donors don't quite understand how charities operate, and are unwilling to chip in and share their administrative costs.
Shortage of competent and qualified staff.
In 2017, Russia adopted a law governing non-profit organisations, but it still lacks professional standards for regulating social and charitable services, as well as recommended charity reporting requirements.
Charities face a number of challenges to overcome on the way to greater confidence in their activities, including:
setting and enforcing transparent rules for their operations, including, among other things, public reporting requirements;
setting up communication channels serving both charities and donors, from official company sites to global portals;
using reputable media outlets to promote charitable causes. One major hurdle there is that mass media tend not to name charities for a fear of being accused of unfair advertising.
further government support of a comprehensive charity ecosystem.
promotion of the code of ethics for charitable organisations.
Yet, simply adopting such a code is not enough. The only truly efficient way to transparency, and accordingly, to a higher degree of trust in charities would be a set of independent evaluation metrics and compliance controls.