Working with scarcity in rural Russia

Larisa Avrorina

Since the late 1990s, the NGO sector has developed rapidly in Russia. Community foundations have sprung up, private and corporate charitable foundations have started to grow, and state programmes of NGO support have emerged. However, these developments did not spread evenly throughout the country. They were confined to the areas where there were resources to support them and had little effect in non-industrial and rural areas. Half of Russian community foundations are rural funds in remote areas. So how can they thrive where there are few resources to sustain them?

CAF Russia started to work in the field of community philanthropy through a project funded by the World Bank in 2003. In our initial attempts to raise local resources to deal with social issues, we did not speak about community philanthropy development. Instead, we talked about participation and mobilizing people. A big part of the project was the establishment of community foundations. In many of the areas of operation, there is no big business or big money, and both the standard of living and the sense of agency are low. However, there is a demand for events. New formats are needed to engage people, so community foundations use celebrations of fundraising to accumulate resources to make them work for the good of community. It is like lighting a candle.

A performance in Maima, South Siberia.

A novel event

 
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