The blooming of Czech giving

Jiří Bárta

The post-communist Czech Republic wanted to develop a philanthropy sector – but first had to reinvent the idea of philanthropy

Peter Hero.

I was fortunate to have Peter Hero, president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, as my mentor. Peter had visited Prague and met with people in the emerging Czech community foundation field several times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was well aware that what he was seeing in the Czech Republic in those days was a thousand miles away from the mature philanthropy field in the US.

Yet Peter was tireless in his advice and his explanations about the ins and outs of philanthropy – about donor-advised funds, the trust that is needed for any giving, planned gifts and legacies, corporate and individual giving, endowments and asset management and the tensions that inevitably arise from time to time between the programme and development departments of any foundation. And of course, we spent hours in conversation about how we could begin shifting the overall culture in the Czech Republic towards a more philanthropic one.

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