Philanthropy – alive and kicking!

I know that we (civil society I mean) are in various ways trying to develop philanthropy, but this whole business with media monitoring confirmed what I started to suspect for some time already: philanthropy in the region is alive and kicking and it’s been developed by many, many actors, thank you very much!  

What do I mean by that? Well, media, companies, PR agencies, SMEs, law firms, celebrities, sportspersons, politicians, church, teachers, doctors, local choruses, cafe owners, rich and those not so rich… when you read media reports it seems that everybody is doing something!

Now, one of the questions – for me at least – might be what is civil society place in all that development; but this time, I would just like to invite you to take a quick glance at how philanthropy – developed by so many diverse people and groups – looks like in these four countries?

Firstly, ways to provide support? Well, we have both direct donations where person/s and/or entities are providing direct support to the recipient as well as actions for raising support (both cash and in kind) in which appeals or various kind of events are organized in order to raise money or in kind help.

Chart shows that while in Bosnia&Herzegovina and Croatia actions for raising money and/or in kind support have clear primacy over direct donations, in Serbia they are pretty equal and in Montenegro direct donations are more numerous. (This might have something to do with presence of companies as donors as they usually provide direct donations – so maybe their greater presence in Montenegro and Serbia explains higher presence of direct donations in these two countries. )

Secondly – what is provided? In all four countries, cash donations seem to be much more popular (or at least more reported on) – over 60%. Up to one third of various actions come up with combined cash and in kind support and only in up to 6% cases was in kind support only provided.

And if we look at in kind support  – well, ALL sorts is being both raised and provided: from small, such as books and toys to more capital investments like vehicles, trees, building material (even whole houses) etc. Most often however, it is food which is often accompanied by clothes. Apart from goods, services are being donated and most often these are medical services (free of charge smaller scale operations) or services of local SME’s (such as builders). Though, my absolute favorite among in kind donations is vehicle for community undertakers service: obviously, it’s needed, but I would never ever thought that it could be acquired by donation!   

And how the donations are raised was even more surprising – at least to me! I for one was mistaken in thinking that we have a lot to learn from others in this area. While there are certainly still things to be learned from other countries, the variety of ways for raising support in not nearly as poor as I expected. Certainly, the appeals through the media continue to be ‘the good old way’, but in all countries there was a wide range of events organized for raising money.

There were ‘standard’ events, such as concerts (which seem to be most numerous) and sport events (most often football games/tournaments, but also handball, volleyball, tennis, and even golf in Croatia and Serbia), cultural happenings (exhibitions and auctions of photos/paintings, theatre plays, literary evenings, ballet performances etc) and – unavoidable for the Balkans I guess – eating&drinking festivities: dinners, lunches, cocktails, cooking competitions etc.

However, there were also numerous, more unusual events such as bring and buy markets, walks and races (including one of women on high heels), wine festivals, chess games, bikers’ acrobatic performances, lotteries, book fairs, fashion shows, shopping nights, wedding fairs, washing cars for money, professional hairdressers cutting hair, having well-known persons as waiters in cafes, selling (parts of) ‘the biggest sandwich’… after reading reports it seems to me that almost every possible event could be (and on occasion it is) turned into fundraising event.

All this – good news AND a good reminder: philanthropy is alive and kicking and it doesn’t wait for civil society to be developed! But, more on that in another story… 

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Aleksandra Vesic