Andrey Generalov. International Investment Center - Experience of NGO Internationalisation. Obuda University. Hungary, 2014
Executive Summary of Russian Federation Country Survey for UNV project “The State of Volunteerism in Southeastern Europe and CIS Region“
The study was conducted in 2008-09 by International NGO «International Investment Center». Leading researchers Andrey I. Generalov, Olga V. Kutuzova
Volunteerism in Russia has deep historical and cultural roots, starting in the middle ages as a „mutual support“ for peasants, engaging neighbours to construction of a new house or gathering crops for needy families. Charity initiatives were mainly implemented by reach people.
Famous Russian Empress Catherine the Great (1729-1796), and later Empress Maria Fedorovna (1847-1928) have declared themselves as philanthropists. They had founded numerous charitable institutions and started Russian system of social charity and orphanage. During the Soviet period (before year of 1991) volunteerism has been organized into large All-Union actions and actively supported by existed ideological machine. The Soviet years have essentially impaired an image of volunteerism and charity, having entered into practice so-called by people “voluntary-obligatory” actions:”subbotniks” (free work during Saturdays), gathering paper for recycling, an obligatory membership dues in All-Russian Society for preserve of nature and Voluntary Society to Support Army and Fleet, etc.
Today, almost two decades later, the voluntary sector consists of thousands of organizations of all kinds. According to data from the Registration Service of the Russian Federation, at the end of the year 2007 around 200,000 non-profit organizations were active . Volunteers are active in many spheres of social interest, e.g. social welfare, ecology, human rights, education, healthcare, and culture. Here are some examples:
• Volunteers of the social association "Movement of Stavropol Volunteers" organize tourist hikes in the mountains for disabled people and also song festivals, attracting teenagers with behavioral problems to take part in it.
• Volunteers of “Oratorium” non-profit organization help drug abused teenagers to overcome their illness and former drug users after rehabilitation became volunteers and take part in organization’s activities.
• Volunteers of “Volunteer” Center in Krasnodar provide support for 14 orphanages and 3 prisons, organize fundraising, psychological support to women-inmates and children, born in prison. About 30% of young people up to 30 years old in Russia have experience as volunteers.
2009 was announced as Year of Youth in Russia by the Order of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev # 1383, dated September 18,2008. Federal Agency on Youth Affairs and Ministry of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy are responsible for all activities in this field. Ministry of Science and Education had developed in 2005 “Strategy of the Russian Federation on State Youth Development Policy in 2006-2010”, which was approved by Government of the Russian Federation on December 18, 2006.
Main groups of volunteer organizations are: a) international-based (examples - Rotary International Russia together with Rotaract Russia, Greenpeace Russia, Memorial (International public organization “Historic-educational, charitable and human rights protection society “MEMORIAL”) b) national-wide (examples - Russian Union of Youth (RUY), Union of Soldiers’ Mothers Committees of Russia, and c) local, community-oriented (examples – Sluzhenie (Nizhny Novgorod), Siberian Alternative (Omsk), Oratorium (Astrakhan), Center “Dobrovolets” (Krasnodar) and many others).
Also need to be mentioned politically-engaged organizations and youth groups, implementing volunteer projects: Democratic Antifascist Youth Movement (Nashi), Young Guard, Democratic Movement “We”, Oborona and many others. Among main groups that influence volunteerism in Russia are umbrella associations and networks. Russian Center of Volunteerism Development and “Sozidanie” foundation are umbrella organizations which annually organize together such volunteer action as “Spring Week of Good” and engages in it up to 1 million participants, conduct national Award in Volunteerism as well as International Volunteers Day in Russia, conferences and forums on volunteer development. Youth networks are represented by such organizations as “Children and Youth Social Initiatives”, Karelian Youth Network, Association of Youth Organizations Of Disabled People, social association "Movement of Stavropol Volunteers",etc.
Federal government structures that support volunteer activity are: Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy and Federal Agency on Youth Affairs.
Researches about youth, civil society organizations and volunteerism activity in Russia were conducted by international organizations (UNESCO), national government organizations (Goscomstat), research institutions (Zircon, Romir, Center “Obschestvennoie Mnenie” (Public Opinion), Levada center) and non-government organizations themselves (Agency of Social Information, Sozidanie Foundation, human rights groups and many others).
According to the Report on a Condition of Civil Society in the Russian Federation, prepared by Public Chamber of the Russian Federation (2008) the tendency to growth of information about non-profit sector shows acknowledgement of public good and volunteer work in the society, Negative tendencies are resulted from low level of social confidence in the society, connected with economic crisis.
Tver Open World Alumni Promote U.S.-Russian Partnerships Printer-Friendly Page November 1, 2006 The Tver Regional Library hosted a seminar on “Developing Russian-American Partnerships” for local community leaders interested in creating U.S.-Russian ties. The seminar was attended by 12 Open World alumni and 14 others, including young civic activists, local government representatives, and local TV and newspaper reporters. In his opening speech, Tver Mayor Oleg Lebedev talked about potential joint projects with American businesses, including an impending collaboration between Tver and the Boeing aircraft company. Open World alumna Olga Kutuzova, a representative of the U.S. Commerce Department and a Hubert Humphrey Fellowship recipient, described the Business Information Service for the Newly Independent States (BISNIS). Established in 1992 within the Commerce Department, BISNIS is the U.S. government’s market information center for U.S. companies pursuing business development in post-Soviet states. Andrei Generalov, the representative for the Open World Alumni Outreach Program in Russia’s Central District, then delivered a presentation on educational and professional training opportunities in the United States through SABIT, the Fulbright Program, the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program, the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program, and similar exchanges. During the discussion of Russian-U.S. partnerships, the Open World alumni talked about their current work and their achievements since their U.S. exchanges, shared their opinions about developing sister-city relationships and asked further questions about the exchange programs. Generalov offered a concrete suggestion to promote international ties: participating in an international children’s drawing contest sponsored by UNICEF. Before the seminar ended, the alumni had agreed to help out with the contest, and the reporters present agreed to publish information about it.