January is a month when people in Macedonia celebrate among several religious holydays (Orthodox Christmas, Epiphany, etc) and the birthday of Toshe Proeski – the famous singer that tragically lost his life in October 2007 in a car incident in Croatia. This 25th of January, on the day of his 31st birthday, several fundraising events were organized in order to remember this great young man that was known in Balkans not only as a singer but as a person that has initiated and organized many humanitarian and philanthropic activities. Toshe’s last concert, organized several days before his death was fundraiser-he succeeded to raise more than 100.000 $US for reconstructions in the primary schools in Macedonia. On the first ever organized the Philanthropy Awards in Macedonia for Year 2007, jury has decided to give to him thepreservation of the memory of the noble personality and character of Tose Proeski, as well as to continue support in the areas of both music and humanity.
Toshe has inspired many local celebrities to start with philanthropic activities – in the moment there are several foundations and organizations established by celebrities ( i.e. Srce od Srce (Heart from Heart, Humano Srce za Site (Humane Heart for All) that organize fundraising events (concerts, telethons, etc) to help to people in need, especially children with serious diseases that needs to be treated abroad.
In many countries celebrities are always the big supporters for humanitarian and philanthropic events, and this is obvious case in Macedonia. But what is the situation with other parts of society regarding philanthropy development in Macedonia?
According to the Philanthropy research that Center for Institutional development (CIRa) conducted in September 2006 there is a culture of giving in the Republic of Macedonia. 76 percent of the surveyed population supports the idea of individual giving and 70 percent reported that they have actually donated to support community needs. The majority of people give to others but relatively few give to NGOs (only 7 percent of those that have already donated). Seventy-six percent of individuals surveyed had never been asked for a donation by an NGO, yet 49 percent report they are prepared to make donations to NGOs.
Corporate philanthropy in Macedonia is increasing, mostly as a result of the tax incentives given by the Law for Donations and Sponsorships from 2006. According the official data in 2010, 2.484 companies have donated and sponsored total of 8.164.632 EUR, what is increase from previous years (656 companies have donated 6,9 million Euros in 2009). Areas of Sport, Education, Health and Culture are those in which companies donate at most. It is interesting to see that most of donations goes to public institutions in areas of education, health and culture, and NGOs are not often recognized as possible receivers of donations (less than 10% of donations).
Existence of several corporate foundations in Macedonia (T-mobile for Macedonia Foundation, Apolonia Foundation (hotel Apolonia), Trajce Mukaetov Foundation (Alkaliod) as well as the corporate funds established (Chain of Supermarkets “Tinex” has established Tinex Corporate Fund of 70.000 EUR on annual basis in CIRa covering fields of social, educational, health, cultural and community needs) also positively contribute to the development of corporate philanthropy in Macedonia. It must be stated that several companies has developed and implemented sound CSR strategies (ONE (mobile phone operator), EVN (electricity), several Banks (Komercijlna Banka, TTK Banka, etc) and provide strategic support in solving local community issues. In 2010, the Business Leaders Forum Macedonia is being established, as a network of companies that nurture CSR in their work.
The level of individual philanthropy in Macedonia is still not on appropriate level and as a most common used method are donations through SMS/text messages and telephone calls, when usually around 2 EUR is being donated. According the Law for Donations and Sponsorships, every individual that donate can have tax deduction up to 20% from the Personal Income Tax, not more than 24.000 Denars (app. 400 EUR) on yearly basis. In the moment only individuals that have extra income (from the salary) can use this possibility (around 190.000 individuals according the 2011 Report from Public Revenue Office), but unfortunately in the moment the contribution from individuals is insignificant. Complicated procedure in the Law for donations, lack of information to broader public as well as the fact that there are a not much activities (especially from NGOs) with request from individuals, are the key reasons for such a low level of individual donations.
In terms of the support infrastructure for philanthropy development, there is a still a lot of space to be filled out with appropriate actions. In the first part of 2012 web portal www.donate.org.mk will be launched, giving possibility to all fundraising organizations and institutions to promote their needs and local incentives, as well as to provide opportunities for on-line donations. There is an incentive for establishing The Network of Local Fundraising Organizations in Macedonia that will gather about 30 local NGOs enabling to share, learn and lobby for better legal environment. Last but not least, it is expected that this year we will succeed with the process of changes of the Law for donations that has started in 2011, in order to make procedures more easer to be used. Starting from February, CIRa will organize first Media campaign for philanthropy development supported by the all national media, in order to inform citizens about possibilities given in the Law for donations and to inspire more people to donate. It must be stated that media in Macedonia play important role in promotion of the philanthropic activities organized by various groups and organizations. In the light of promotion of philanthropy, CIRa in May 2012 will celebrate 5 years of the Annual Philanthropy and CSR Awards – event that will make overview of the all individuals, companies, NGOs, institutions that contributed to philanthropy development in Macedonia since 2007.
Zoran Stojkovski is Executive Director of Center for Institutional Development (CIRa) which is among first organizations in Macedonia that has started to work on philanthropy development as one of its three strategic goals. More on CIRa you can find on http://www.cira.org.mk.
 Originally named as “Philanthropy Research in the Republic of Macedonia” run as part of the USAID Civil Society Strengthening Project (CSSP) conducted the Center for Institutional Development (CIRa)