Study on challenges facing charitable sector in Russia

Donor Forum: How can the charitable sector come out of isolation?

The Donor Forum presented the results of their sixth study: on the challenges of 2021.


On April 15, the Donor Forum published the results of their project, a study to monitor the development of corporate philanthropy.

The sixth study examines the general sentiment surrounding the sector after a year of the pandemic. The survey was conducted between March-April of 2021 and participants included business and corporate funds (46%), private foundations (18%) and fundraising organisations of CSOs (32%).

Overcoming the crisis

The respondents offered a positive assessment of the current state of the charity sector. 73% said they were confident that the sector has been able to reshape itself to fit into a new environment and 41% believed that the sector has already overcome the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. This applies to both charities and the sphere of social investment. More than half of respondents (59%) believed the future of the sector to be ambiguous, stating that restrictive measures will continue to affect the instability of the sector well into 2021.

General trends

Respondents were asked what they believed to be the most evident trends emerging from the sector towards the end of 2020. Among positive changes, respondents highlighted the increased cohesion within the sector and the rapid growth of partnerships, including with the authorities, as well as the development of online and digital formats. The success of fundraising campaigns was also noted, including those made possible by tax incentives.

“Another important, but rarely mentioned trend, is the help provided to infrastructure projects and the support of organisations. More often, respondents noted a step away from long-term project support to more targeted assistance,” writes the Donor Forum.

Among negative trends, respondents mentioned the reduction of budgets and a tighter control exerted over their spending.

Office and remote working

According to the survey, in June 2020 only 23% of CSR and non-profit organisations operated in a mixed format. Now, employees switch between office and remote working in 73% of cases. Every fifth organisation operated completely remotely.

Two thirds of organisations are not placing limits on face-to-face events, and 60% are allowing business trips within Russia. In every fourth organisation, this requires additional approval.


Almost 25% of companies and grant-giving foundations did not reduce their budget from last year. Slightly less than a third even increased their budget. In less than half (47%) of donors, budgets decreased.

Resilience as a challenge

Respondents highlighted the most pressing challenge as being the necessity to strengthen the sustainability of projects. For 60% of those asked, the search for new partnerships was incredibly important, and for 50% the continuation of work and future plans remained essential, despite the restrictive measures and general uncertainty.

Half of the respondents stated it was important to be included in the global and national Sustainable Development Goal Agenda.

“The topic of the public annual report for 2020 is the least relevant aspect for organisations at the current moment in time (22%). It’s possible that some organisations have created a system of performance monitoring and reporting that is relatively simple and problem-free” the survey concluded.


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