On February 8th, in Zaporozhye, representatives of charities, voluntary groups and community organizations of the Zaporozhye and Dnepropetrovsk regions gathered together behind a round table. The main agenda ‚Äď how to help effectively?! At first glance it sounds like a simple question, but how many pitfalls in it‚Ä¶.
It would seem that the role of charity is very simple ‚Äď allocate donations. Take here - give there. However, as it turns out, the money, for example, can be given directly to the parents so they can pay for the checkup or medical supplies, or the fund can directly pay for everything at the discount price. Sometimes 10% or even 20% discount‚Ä¶translates into savings of real money that can be allocated to cover the needs of another child. You can use the beaten track and buy for the orphanage, hospital, etc. sweets for a holiday and then find out that 5 other organizations came there before you with the same gifts or you can use the same money and buy educational games for some remote orphanage that guests with gifts never reach. In general, this list can go on and on but one thing is very clear ‚Äď to receive a maximum return on each donated dollar charitable foundations should not be just the mediators; they should become experts capable of assessing the situation, setting priorities and etc. And foremost, to achieve maximum results the work of all charities should be coordinated as much as possible.
Those people who gathered around the table represented very different organizations, different emphases in work, different outlook on help and different mindset. Therefore, on one hand, it is obvious that all funds in the Zaporozhye region simply cannot have an identical line of conduct. Even within a single fund employee may have a different vision of some things, and we are talking about a number of various organizations working in different environments (work in Zaporozhye and in a small town are two very different things!). But on the other hand, without effective coordination and joint strategy, the efficiency factor of all organizations as a whole and each individual one will be very low.
Another and perhaps that most boisterous discussion revolved around the work with volunteers. Volunteering in our region is growing, becoming more fashionable‚Ä¶ More and more people call/write/come ‚Äď ‚ÄúI want to be a volunteer‚ÄĚ. How to coordinate all these people? How to use them more effectively? How to make sure that the time spent on training volunteers is not passed in vain (when a person participates in one campaign and understands that it‚Äôs not for him\her)? These are the questions that all participants of the round-table meeting asked each other, and, with bated breath, awaited the universal answer. Alas, if such an answer exists, the people in attendance did not know it. For the most part charities are so overwhelmed with work, that there is simply no energy or time left to work with volunteers. And this is probable one of the main differences between funds in Commonwealth of Independent States and the West. There, foundations engage primarily in social support with the active help from volunteers. Yet, our funds purchase drugs, pay for medical supplies/surgeries and, first of all, try to find money; then ‚Äď take care of all the paperwork related to payments, etc., and therefore, there is almost no time left for social work, including volunteers.
To sum up - we talked a lot and I want to believe that this meeting was productive. On the one hand, we talked about things that are well known to each person working at charity; on the other hand, sometimes it is very important to hear your thoughts from somebody else. It is important to discuss a problem as a group, make a group decision (or gaining an understanding that finding a solution requires more time and different format), or simply complain about burdens of work in a circle of like-minded people.
As a result of the round-table meeting we came to several major conclusions:
1. Get together for such discussions more often
2. Each of the topics discussed deserves its own round-table meeting
3. One of the primary objectives is to establish an effective system that would coordinate work of all charities in the Zaporozhye region. Ideally ‚Äď create an easily accessible database of all beneficiaries (hospitals, orphanages, families, etc.) and charities that are linked together (to keep track of who receives help from several funds, and who receives no help at all). A very essential project that fully meets the concept of ‚Äúa wise philanthropy‚ÄĚ, but requires considerable recourses‚Ä¶
I would like to thank all the participants of the round-table meeting. Those, who came despite the frost and snow drifts. Who shared their thoughts and ideas‚Ä¶and I hope that soon, all together, we will start implementing ideas that we‚Äôve talked about. All together we can make real wise philanthropy‚Ä¶to begin with ‚Äď at least in the Zaporozhye region‚Ä¶