Amidst the current climate of political uncertainty, Fundraising Europe interviews Svitlana Kuts, President of the Ukrainian fundraising association, the Institute of Professional Fundraising, about the fundraising environment and the challenges facing nonprofits in Ukraine.
Organisation Name: Institute of Professional Fundraising
Organisation’s Aim: To raise the sustainability of civil society organisations in Ukraine by developing strategic, responsible, based on organisational capacity and trust approach to resource mobilisation.
Membership Base: 31 individual and 4 organisations
Governance: Executive Board of 12 activists, Supervisory Board – 5 fundraising experts.
MARKET AT A GLANCE:
In Ukraine, charity giving is growing steadily. Although people tend to give to those in need directly, around 30% of individuals now donate to charity.
While Ukrainian donors generate around 12% of the non-profit sector’s total income, the majority of income is raised from international donors and corporate foundations. New laws have been introduced for public collections and legacies, enabling more charities to fundraise and more people to give in this way. Crowdfunding is also very popular. The most popular causes are children’s health and innovative programmes such as social entrepreneurship or technological projects.
After the Ukrainian Revolution, which saw President and his allies in the parliament overturned and, in March 2014, Russian troops deployed to the country and the subsequent Crimean referendum election, there remains uncertainty about the political and economic climate.
INTERVIEW WITH Svitlana Kuts
How would you describe the fundraising profession in Ukraine?
Professionalism is growing in fundraising, but there is little public recognition of the profession itself. Many fundraisers work under the title of manager or director of development. But, recently, it has become more common to employ or consult fundraising specialists and this is a very positive step forward.
What are the key forms of fundraising in the Ukraine?
Although international donors cannot be expected to support Ukrainian nonprofits indefinitely, this source of income is currently our most significant.
When Ukrainian organisations fundraise, they are publicly scrutinised and are expected to be able to demonstrate delivery of funds to the recipient. The challenge is that the public expects charities to be able to operate without any expense or infrastructure costs.
Therefore, when it comes to individual giving, they respond well to volunteer-led collections and these have become increasingly common, mainly raising funds for ill children and those with cancer. This movement has grown from social networks (such as the facebook Tabletochki Project) with activists asking their friends for support, to large national campaigns in the press. Volunteer fundraising works well because it demonstrates efficiency and enables people to feel that they are giving directly to the good causes they care about.
The new law covering street collections should build public confidence in giving this way, but after former abuse by bogus operators, we have a long way to go before the public can be said to trust the technique.
The good news is that, increasingly, nonprofits take a more structured, strategic approach to fundraising and this is reflected in the variety of means used for resource mobilisation.
How is fundraising regulated?
The framework for tax-effective giving and charity regulation is in place with a Law on Charities and Charitable Organisations and a Tax Code, but we lack proper execution of these laws.
All charity donations are covered by the legal framework, but there is a need for greater regulation in the field of volunteering, property transfer and government funding.
The Ukrainian nonprofit sector is tax-exempt, plus individuals and business donors benefit with a tax deduction of up to 4% of their previous year’s profit or income.
What standards do you expect of your members?
We expect our members to subscribe to the International Statement of Ethical Principles and to have practiced fundraising for a minimum of 3 years.
Do you offer any benefits, training or qualifications?
Our membership benefits include information, support, discounts for events and opportunities to discuss common challenges and exchange ideas.
We first started offering an EFA Certified Course for Professional Fundraising in 2008 and it is now run annually. We also conduct fundraising training and run a monthly club for fundraisers, which is open to everybody.
What is your most important area of work for 2014?
During 2014, we are focusing on developing codes of professional conduct for fundraising in Ukraine. There needs to be clear and consistent rules for fundraiser conduct and ethical guidelines.
What is the impact of the Ukrainian Revolution on fundraising?
The Ukrainian Revolution started unexpectedly in November 2013 and escalated rapidly in February 2014 with clashes between protesters and the police, leading to the overturning of the government and of President Viktor Yanukovych. A new government was in place within a few days, but the political situation has since destabilised with Russian troops formally deployed to Ukraine in March.
It is too early to say what the outcome will be with any certainty, but in response to the fatalities and injuries caused during the protests, we saw an immediate surge in charitable giving and volunteering to help those affected. It shows us that in times of need, there is a great willingness to help and that there is a growing understanding that nonprofit organisations facilitate that support.
Although the political and economic framework is unstable at the time of writing, nonprofit organsiations will likely have an increasingly important role to play in the future of civil society in Ukraine.
In the long-term, we certainly hope that the new parliament will be supportive of the need to develop clear and transparent practices for the sector in future.