Community foundations’ growing popularity in rural Russia


Halie Dalton


CAF Russia has completed a study, funded by the Global Fund for Community Foundations, on the phenomenon of community foundations (CFs) in rural areas of Russia.

Community foundations in small areas are seen as ‘drivers for social development and community engagement’ in Russia, allowing community members to deal with local issues through cooperation with local authorities or by way of self-governance.

There are currently 70 CFs in Russia, 51 of which (73 per cent) are working in small towns and rural areas. These ‘rural funds’ allow for greater success among local philanthropy development in Russia, providing the ‘institutional basis’ for various efforts regarding infrastructure, socially important issues, and quality of life improvement.

The CAF Russia study report.

Working in areas with populations ranging from 3,500 to 14,000, rural CFs were mostly established by individual activists or small groups and are sustained through the work of many volunteers. Despite small budgets, 90 per cent of small CFs use grant competitions ‘to support charitable projects and residents’ initiatives’.

The efforts of community members in volunteering for local improvement through CFs make them a valuable resource in implementing programmes. In addition to local improvement as a priority, establishment of new traditions is noted as another important aspect of community culture development achieved through CFs.

Though the focus is on the local, development of new traditions and programmes is useful in attracting external audiences and the attention of business and local authorities, resulting in greater resources for rural funds.

For more information on topics surrounding the #ShiftThePower movement, see the Alliance special feature on community philanthropy or Larisa Arinova’s piece on rural Russia.

Halie Dalton is a student at James Madison University, Virginia, and is currently an editorial intern with Alliance. 

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