On 31 March, the “Endowments 2017” forum, dedicated to the problems of the foundation and development of endowment funds in the field of education, research, and culture, was held in Moscow. The forum was organised by Potanin Charitable Foundation and SKOLKOVO Moscow management school. Among the participants of the forum were heads of non-commercial organisations, experts in sustainable development, fundraising, and planning, as well as representatives of academic communities, including representatives of Voronezh State University – Elena Ivashenko, Head of the Strategic Development Department, Marina Scherbakova, Head of the Career Development and Business Partnership Department, and Tatina Diakova, a leading specialist of the Career Development and Business Partnership Department.
The forum was opened by Oxana Oracheva, the CEO of Potanin Charitable Foundation. She said that endowment funds are a very important issue for the foundation that has been running the "Endowment funds: growth strategy” programme since 2012. The programme’s objective is to develop an endowment model and introduce it in non-profit organisations.
“Within the ten years that have passed since the introduction of the endowment funds law, over 150 specialised endowments have been founded in Russia. Some of them are quite large”, said Oxana Oracheva.
Artem Shadrin, Head of the Strategic Development and Innovations Department of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, and one of the key initiators of the law, agreed that the trend in this field is quite positive. There are however a number of problems.
“We are often faced with the choice – whether to add money to the endowment, or spend it on the organisation’s activities. In other words, we have to choose whether to opt for future sustainability, or solve existing problems. And this choice is not always in favour of the endowment. What’s the solution? We should raise public awareness of endowments as being highly prestigious and very important. We can, for example, collaborate with university graduates”.
Mikhail Shvydkoy, special representative of the RF President on international cultural cooperation, also addressed the audience. He said that problems we are now facing in this sphere are not economic or financial. Endowment funds need to be promoted. People should understand how society and the state are developing.
Andrey Sharonov, President of SKOLKOVO Moscow management school, agreed that endowment funds are based on trust, which is often the problem.
One of the sections of the forum “Endowments in Russia – to be or not to be?” discussed the most common stereotypes about endowment funds and tried to answer the following questions: is it a universal method for improving financial stability and which organisations actually need endowments?
Over 30 experts from Russia and other countries described their own vision of the development of endowments in Russia. Among the participants were graduates of a two-year course organised by Potanin Foundation as part of "Endowment funds: growth strategy” programme. The course ended on 30 March in Skolkovo. The course's graduates presented their own projects on establishing endowments at museums, theatres, and universities.
VSU Endowment Fund registered in 2013 is being added to on an ongoing basis. Two VSU members completed a study course “Endowment fund foundation and development strategy” at SKOLKOVO Moscow management school within the framework of the Charitable Programme for endowment funds development support in Russia “Endowment funds: growth strategy”. Last year VSU implemented a part of the programme – the project “VSU 100th anniversary as a symbolic cultural capital resource”.