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Natalia Yakunina: Preservation of life must become a priority for charities

The 10th Anniversary Charity in Russia Conference was held in Moscow on April 7, organized by the newspaper Vedomosti in partnership with MTS and the Agency for Social Information (ASI). About 150 people attended the conference, including representatives of major businesses, non-profit organizations, charity experts, and the media.

The conference focused on the direction of corporate and private charitable development in Russia in the coming years from the standpoint of a systems approach. It asked if we can expect any substantial or conceptual changes of programs and what kind of changes. What were the main trends in corporate and private charity in recent years?

Conference participants searched for answers to these questions together during four thematic sessions.

During the session "Evolution of Corporate Charity," the speakers outlined the main trends influencing the development of charitable organizations. They include: the internetization of social life, including charity spheres, a shift in emphasis from the federal agenda to regional features, development of partnerships between organizations and a public-private partnership, and growth of the volunteer movement.

A lively discussion took place during the second session, dedicated to strategic philanthropy and dialogue between benefactors and beneficiaries. One of the session's speakers was Natalia Viktorovna Yakunina, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the "Sanctity of Motherhood" program and board member of the Istoki Endowment Fund. Participants of the discussion also included Natalia Poppel, head of the Corporate Social Responsibility Department and the Severstal brand, Maria Chertok, director of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) Russia, Elena Shmeleva, vice president of Sistema Charity Foundation, and others. Elena Chernyshkova, partner of Odgers Berndtson, was the moderator of the discussion.

In her speech, Natalia Yakunina told participants about the history of the all-Russian program "Sanctity of Motherhood," which is an example of a strategic program aimed at improving society by solving its demographic problems. The program's main objective is to change the social perception of the institutions of family and marriage and to form an attitude toward family and motherhood as being of the highest value. The program incorporates a complex of projects, including preservation of life through abortion prevention, development of motherhood protection centers, and work with regional administrations and the media. Currently a search for partners among socially responsible regional companies is underway as part of the program's projects.

Natalia Yakunina also noted that one of the most effective instruments for strategic charity is the creation of an endowment fund, which allows the stable development of programs and the most logical and transparent use of benefactors' funds.

A number of the most important charity instruments were mentioned, including cooperation and partnership of companies in the implementation of charity programs, use of public-private partnership mechanisms, search for professional fundraising services, and development of subject-oriented research.

The third session, "Charity of High-Income and Financially Independent Russians," was dedicated to examples and opportunities for wealthy Russians to participate in charitable activities. Representatives of major companies and non-profits, such as Uralsib, VTB Insurance, V. Potanin Charity Fund, and other participants shared their case studies.

The conference concluded with the fourth session, "Moscow – Land of Philanthropy and Charity."

The participants of this session discussed opportunities for development of charity projects in a metropolitan setting.


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