The development of philanthropy in Lithuania gains momentum [2009-12-07]

The development of philanthropy in Lithuania gains momentum

Every day non-governmental organizations encounter the same problem - how to find funding necessary for their activity. Economic hard times, difficulties in receiving funding from national or international foundations and the threat of loosing income from the redistribution of income tax have notably escalated this problem these days.

Seeking to show that non-governmental organizations are not left alone and that the search of funding and regular income are not mission impossible for a dynamic and transparent organization the Civic Responsibility Foundation (CRF) invited the representatives of non-governmental institutions and philanthropy-oriented businesses to share their experience in grant-making, familiarize with new ways of collecting funds and discuss the cooperation possibilities.

The discussion that took place on 3 December 2009 in hotel Crowne Plaza Vilnius was organized within the framework of the programme The Development of Philanthropy in Lithuania that was prepared in 2008 based on the experience of foreign partners and it received support from the European Economic Area and Norwegian Financial Mechanisms. The aim of the programme - to create or improve conditions for joint initiatives and dialogue between business sector and non-governmental organizations, to improve the abilities of support seekers to communicate with potential sponsors and to encourage non-governmental organizations from the Lithuanian regions with weak philanthropic tradition to take initiative and start long-term cooperation projects with business partners.

Aims to strengthen cooperation

 In many countries abroad, each citizen or company feels under an obligation to donate part of their income to charity. In Lithuania, there are also many people who want to help others. Some of them collect charity for the children's homes, some - for old people, some of them help young people achieve better education or encourage the unemployed not to give up - all of their well-wishing works are hard to list. Unfortunately, only kind heart, time and energy is not enough - every day it is necessary to search for the sources of financing for the activity of organizations.

During the discussion Mindaugas Danys, director of the Civic Responsibility Foundation (CRF) that comes to help non-governmental organizations, presented the prospects of developing the idea philanthropy in Lithuania. "We want philanthropy in Lithuania to acquire a more professional expression, we seek a clearer responsibility, we wish to support activities and organizations that bring the most significant benefit and are the most effective, to initiate new forms of philanthropy in Lithuania and to strengthen non-governmental organizations and the civil sector", Mindaugas Danys described the aims of the Foundation.

Together with the participants of the event the CRF director discussed the best ways to achieve these aims and possible obstacles that might be encountered. "We cannot act without a close cooperation with non-governmental organizations; we need people with good ideas so that we could offer funding to their projects in return of their time, work and consideration", Mindaugas Danys talked.

Will make use of the virtual space

 The ideas of philanthropy in Lithuania are far from being exhausted yet. CRF is ready for rapid expansion of its activity through the development of innovative projects. "Charity cards, philanthropist awards, invitations to donate to charity in ATMs, centralized donations by all employees of a company, strengthening of the charity trademarks, and many other project", the CRF director listed the ways of improving the fund collection possibilities.

Most of the planned projects are related with virtual space. A recent project, where a person who wishes to donate to any organization is directed to his or her electronic banking website, has already received appreciation. In the nearest future, another two websites of a similar nature are to be launched, namely - and

The first one will be devoted to cooperation with different websites that will assign part of their advertising space to non-governmental institutions. The second will act as mediator between organizations or people who are lacking in some things and the people who can donate those things.

"Speaking about the advertisements of non-governmental organizations I would like to emphasize that the aim is not to attract more visitors to the website of the organization but to receive a real benefit - to find more volunteers or sponsors", Mindaugas Danys noted.

What is the most important - it is not to forget to be inventive. Currently, the shopping centers IKI are organizing Christmas campaign Kalėdų stebuklas (Miracle of Christmas). All portals and website owners are encouraged to use a banner of the campaign and for each click on the banner IKI will give 5 cents that will be used to buy toys for children living in children's homes. Banners like these can be found on more than 200 Lithuanian websites.

Why should they give?

After the presentation of the CRF ideas, the participants of the conference shared their experiences. Everyone who works in a non-governmental organization has a bigger or smaller experience of collecting funds. "We never say that we ask for charity - we offer cooperation. By doing this, we contribute to the welfare of the society that we also belong to", Roma Ramunė Barauskienė, president of Šiltų širdžių klubas (Club of Warm Hearts) said.

Although some social organizations express their satisfaction that more and more businesspeople want to help and remain anonymous, the others notice that it is also necessary to have something to offer in return. And advertisements in the leaflets are not always enough. One of the participants of the discussion, the representative of UAB Moretas Modestas Chmieliauskas mentioned that it is still difficult for businesspeople to understand the singularities of organizing the activity of non-governmental organizations and the peculiarities of requesting support. According to the businessman, most people feel an obligation to help the weaker; however, not all of them know how to do it. "If non-governmental organizations could find the way to present a cooperation offer to businesspeople in a form that is understandable to them, we, business representatives, would be glad to join their activities not only financially but also in other forms introduced by Mindaugas Danys", Modestas Chmieliauskas spoke.

Changes are needed

 One of the topics that gave rise to most discussions - the law on the allocation of 2 percent of the income tax. The representatives of non-governmental organizations regretted that this idea has deviated from its primary aim and the funds instead of being given to those who really need them are distributed to schools or kindergartens because parents are usually compelled to do so.

We have to seek simplification of the donation process in all possible ways: people could do it by sending SMS, on the websites or in ATMs. It is important to find the ways to bypass the mediation costs. "If a person buys a 5 litas charity card in a supermarket we have to transfer those 5 litas to a certain organization and to compensate for the mediation costs from the funds of other sponsors", Mindaugas Danys explained.

It is necessary to pay more regard to the appreciation and encouragement of philanthropists - annual awards could be one of the options. But all this is in the future. And tomorrow, we can start a closer cooperation with our present and potential sponsors. Attention to their activity, a wish to understand the reasons of support and consideration of the sponsor's expectations in relation to cooperation with non-governmental organizations - a step that any organization is able to make. The rather that sponsors themselves show interest in the possibilities of grant-giving. Maybe long-term cooperation agreements will originate among the participants of the discussion?

"Kiekvieno žmogaus pareiga grąžinti pasauliui mažiausiai tiek, kiek iš jo paėmė." Albertas Einšteinas
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