Who are the donors?

After this prolonged holiday break (you know – regular Xmas and then orthodox Xmas, regular New Year and so on… eh, life on the Balkans) I was wondering how to start this year’s posts? What I would like to happen in 2012? Well, for one, I would like to see more local donors giving. So I am starting in 2012 by presenting another piece of last year’s media monitoring research that gives a bit of an insight into local donors community in the region – as it might help us understand how these communities look like now.

Looking at media reports it seems that practically everyone gives: business, individuals, associations, clubs, the diaspora, foundations, church…even political parties! Of course, most prominent are corporate and individual donors – however, there are differences in their presence in different countries. 

As the first chart shows corporate donors are most prominent in Montenegro (over 42%) and Serbia (36%).  However, they less than third of donations in B&H and less than 10% (!) of total donations in Croatia. On the other hand, in B&H and Croatia individual donors are ahead of everyone else with over 42% in each of these countries; In Serbia and Montenegro their presence is significantly smaller – one third and one fifth of total number of donations.

In all four countries there were cases where more than one donor was involved (often it was not possible to distinguish primary donors); on the chart they are marked as ‘various’. Depending on the case, this could include: citizens and corporates, or corporates, celebrities and citizens or – to be honest – almost any other combination. The most distinctive country with this type of action is Croatia (over 38%) while in other countries this is less present – around one fifth of donations.

If we look more closely at individual donations, it is actually interesting to ‘break down’ this category by different type of individual donors. There are citizens (mass donations of usually small amounts) and celebrities that organize/promote/support some action where citizens are invited to participate and donate (such are i.e. concerts). Celebrities and citizens in combination are most prominent in Croatia, while mass donations are most present in B&H.

Finally, third category in individual philanthropy are donations by an identifiable person – that is, donations provided by people who are well off, celebrities, public persons etc… Though percentages differ, it is clear that philanthropy by that particular category of individuals is still at its beginnings – even in Montenegro, where they are most numerous, their share is under 10% of total number of donations.

Of other donors, it is worth mentioning the diaspora which, except in Croatia (where they are not really mentioned) it provides between 5 and 10% of all donations. Most often these are mass donations by individuals who support person/families in cases of medical treatment or poverty, but there are also interesting examples of diaspora foundations in Montenegro and B&H. On the other hand clubs – mostly Rotary and Lions – are present mostly in Croatia, where they feature in as much as in 9,1% of total number of donations; in other countries their percentage is significantly smaller.

Foundations are also not very prominent – but seem to be picking up, especially in Montenegro and Serbia. In Montenegro, two private foundations are making significant donations while in Serbia, in which a number of foundations are mentioned (including those founded by media and business) it seems that old tradition of foundations/endowments founded by private citizens is starting to revive. Apart from – somewhat expected – foundations of famous sportspersons, there are couple of examples of citizens who, though not extremely wealthy or famous, have founded their own foundation with specific purpose for supporting some group in their community is reviving.

Political parties, churches and other actors are rarely mentioned, but still in each of the countries there was at least one case where they were mentioned as donors.

While it is good that there is wide range of those who give, it seems to me that there is still significant space for increasing number of local donors in the region, particularly individual donors. But, do we know how to motivate them? Do we know how to nurture them? It might be worthwhile to spend more time in trying to understand that. Because, at the end of the day, the hope is that local donors will step up and fund at least part of what is now funded by international donors, who are, slowly but surely leaving the region. And experience from CEE shows that EU (regardless of our high expectations) will not nearly be able to fill in the gaps left by the international donors.

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Aleksandra Vesic