Everything you wanted to know about charity but had no one to ask.
Helping others is a natural process, but it raises questions when the help is “impersonal”: it is more difficult to help someone you don’t know than someone you know. And if the money is collected by an organization or a foundation… the questions become even bigger.
Why do we have to donate at all in our state?
I wouldn’t really put the question that way. Charity exists not in spite of, but as a support of the state, even in the most prosperous and developed countries of the world. And in my opinion, charity is one of the most important institutions of civil society. By donating money, we participate in solving social problems that concern us, because the responsibility for what is around us lies first of all on ourselves. Yes, of course, we pay taxes. But the state authorities, which distribute these taxes, are such a big and clumsy machine, which cannot promptly respond to changes in all spheres of society, especially in such a huge country as ours. And here we, as citizens of our country, can do what we can, because action is better than inaction.
How is a charitable foundation organized?
Generally speaking, a charitable foundation is only one type of non-profit organization (NPO).
NPOs have several organizational and legal forms. The most common are: an association, a public organization, an autonomous non-profit organization, or ANO, and a charitable foundation.
If we are talking about a foundation, it must have a charitable program. This is a document that describes in detail the goals and objectives of the foundation: to whom and how it helps, on what territory, who can apply for help and on what terms.
The foundation must have a Board (the highest collegial governing body) and this is an important condition for the long-term sustainable development of the organization. Its competences include the most important management issues, such as defining strategy, budget planning, and approving charitable programs. The composition of the foundation’s board determines the quality of its work and, therefore, the work of the entire foundation.
The Board of Trustees is another body. It monitors the work of the organization: it controls the distribution of money and decisions of other bodies, and makes sure that the foundation complies with the law. Members of the Board of Trustees have access to the financial statements of the foundation and can request from the director any documents related to the activities of the organization. In other words, they can guarantee with their reputation that the activities of the foundation are effective, transparent and in compliance with the law.
And, of course, the foundation also has a director. He is appointed by the board and is responsible for the implementation of the adopted strategy.
In any foundation there are people working. The composition of the team depends on the direction of the organization, but it is good to have a lawyer and an accountant so that everything is always in order with the documents, a fundraiser and a PR-manager to attract donors and involve more people in solving the social problem that the organization is engaged in.
Any foundation has a budget for the year, which consists of different income and expenditure items. Everything here is individual and depends on the organization. I would only note that the more different sources of income (these are one-time and regular donations from individuals, donations from legal entities, grants, commercial activities, etc.), the more sustainable the organization is.
Donations collected by charitable foundations are spent on their activities. And this is help directly to the beneficiaries and administrative costs. To solve, for example, the problem of homelessness of people, it is not enough just to build some hostels or provide food for every homeless person, you need to help people get off the street – to draw up documents, to help them find work, to socialize. It is important that people in principle do not end up on the street, and therefore it is necessary to tell their audience about how to become homeless, to draw attention to this problem, to fight stigma against homeless people, they are not “their own fault”, to tell them how to help correctly and not to do harm, etc.
The funds collect donations on the settlement account. The donation form on the website must be accompanied by an offer to which the donor must agree.