Russian Federation

European Research Network on Philanthropy
Current research projects on philanthropy in the Russian Federation


1. State University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia) “Civil Society Monitoring” project. Within the framework of the project Higher School of Economics has recently published a new report entitled “The Practices of Philanthropy in Russia” (2009). It’s a comprehensive study of all aspects of contemporary philanthropy in Russia in comparison with other countries.

2. The Union of Charitable Organizations of Russia (SBOR) project “Russian Philanthropy in the Mirror of Mass Media. The project deals with issuing a digest of publications and interviews regarding philanthropy by Russian federal and regional newspapers, journals and electronic media.

3. Union of Charitable Organizations of Russia’s project “Philanthropic organizations’ company register”, which provides researchers with information and analysis about charitable organizations in all parts of the country registered with the Union.

4. Resource on charitable giving, created by CAF Russia – Comprehensive analysis and information on charitable activities, programs, philanthropic foundations in Russia.

5.  “Charity in Russia” Information Center –
6. Mosblago – united information resource on charitable giving in Moscow  –

7. Philanthropy in the Context of the Economic Crisis. Research project carried out by CAF Russia, Zircon Research Group, Donors Forum, PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2009. The research project was motivated by a concern about the future of philanthropy in Russia during the recession and the need for objective information about the actual state of affairs.

8. Donors Forum annual study of corporate philanthropy in Russia Donors Forum project of publishing books on philanthropy

Current state of Giving Research in the Russian Federation


Data on the volume and quality of charitable giving and philanthropy in Russia are not being collected on a regular basis by Rosstat, or Federal Statistical Service.  Most experts agree that there are a lack of reliable statistical data on the number of charitable organizations, their areas of activity, on the volume of philanthropic giving, on the effectiveness and social impact of donations, etc. (Moskovskaya Blagotvoritelnaya Gazeta (Moscow Philanthropic Newspaper). # 17, 2009). Therefore researchers of Russian philanthropy have to rely on sources of information other than official government statistics. Information on charitable giving can be derived from sources such as corporate and private tax records (not available for general public), corporate financial and social reports, and surveys. A large amount of donations, however, supposedly remain undeclared since Russian tax legislation does not provide obvious incentives for private and corporate donors. Most reliable data on philanthropic giving are provided by surveys and studies, carried out by CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) Russia, Zircon Research Group, Donors Forum, Higher School of Economics (“Civil Society Monitoring” project), and  The Union of Charitable Organizations of Russia. For example, Higher School of Economics has recently published a new report entitled “The Practices of Philanthropy in Russia” (2009), based on a series of extensive sociological surveys and studies covering a broad spectrum of issues dealing with the current state of charitable giving in Russia.

Another example would be “Philanthropic NGOs in Moscow: Current State and Prospects for Development”, research by Zircon Group ordered by the Union of Charitable Organizations of Russia in May, 2008. These, as well as other similar studies, have indicated the contradicting nature of available statistical data regarding the third sector, including the number of philanthropic NGOs that are both officially registered and operate in Russia.  According to the Federal Registration Service, Russian state agency in charge of registering legal entities, on December 1, 2007, there have been 243,130 NPOs, registered in Russia. However, the Federal Statistical Service has reported 673,019 NPOs to operate in the country. Similar discrepancy relates to available data on philanthropic organizations. According to the Ministry of Justice data, there have been 1,923 philanthropic NPOs in the city of Moscow alone in August 2008. At the same time, Moscow City Statistical Service has listed a substantially bigger number of 4,500 philanthropic nonprofits. However, according to Zircon Group, only 450-500 of the entire amount of philanthropic NGOs are currently active in the Russian capital. It is important to note that most data sources indicate the reduction of the number of charitable organizations in Russia by 10%  over the last two years due to the economic crisis.

Such big discrepancy between different sources of statistical data occurs due to several reasons, including general inadequacy of official statistics in the country. Conflicting data also appears due to the process of permanent reorganization of the state registration and reporting systems. For instance, in April, 2009, the official functions of registering all types of NGOs as legal entities were transferred to the Ministry of Justice.

Another important source of data is the Union of Charitable Organizations of Russia who has developed the philanthropic organizations’ company register, which provides an opportunity for a charitable organization to get registered with the Union. This register might be used as a source of data on the philanthropic sector in Russia.

By the end of 2008 all data had indicated the growth of philanthropic giving in Russia. One of the key features of Russian philanthropy deals with the dominant role of corporations in charitable giving. According to CAF Russia studies, over the last 10 years Russian corporate donors were donating about $ 1.5 billion every year.  However most experts have pointed out the tendency of a slow but steady growth of private giving. CAF Russia 2008 survey has indicated that 50% of people who live in large cities donate at least once a year. These data have been proven by the Higher School of Economics: 54% of the 1600 respondents of their October 2008 survey indicated that they had been donating over the past year (The Practices of Philanthropy in Russia (2009). According to recent surveys, 30% of all Russian citizens are willing to participate in philanthropic activities, but are not aware of the legal and institutional ways of doing that. Historically, there has been a low level of trust for NPOs in the Russian society, so only 15% of private givers donate to philanthropic NPOs, while 40% prefer to donate directly to those individuals and groups who they consider to be worthy recipients.

About 40% of NPOs had one key source of funding – government, corporate donations or grants; others received funding from different sources (CAF Russia, Zircon Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Donors Forum. Philanthropy in the Context of the Economic Crisis. 2009 survey results).  According to the Zircon group survey, 82% of respondents in the city of Moscow believe that the government should increase the financial support to philanthropic NPOs. In 2009 despite a considerable reduction of funding noted by 50% of respondents, the overwhelming majority of NPOs intend to continue their activity and develop further (Philanthropy in the Context of the Economic Crisis. 2009 survey results). According to the survey, 37% of respondents noted the decline of corporate donations in 2009, while 30% noted the reduction of private giving to NPOs. At the same time, recent data indicate that more people tend to donate to charitable causes, despite the reductions in monetary amounts of donations. Over the last year the demand for nonprofit organizations’ services has grown by 59%, the number of people, participating in charitable giving has grown as well (ASI, 22.10.2009).

Russian companies consider engaging their own employees in philanthropic programs a high-priority measure. Among steps planned they name: drawing attention to the social effect of corporate charitable programs, a closer look at how their philanthropy impacts the bottom-line, cooperation with other companies and NPOs, and shifting philanthropic priorities (Philanthropy in the Context of the Economic Crisis. 2009 survey results).

Many experts believe, that the Concept of Facilitating Philanthropic Giving and Volunteerism, adopted by the Russian government in July, 2009, will create stronger institutional framework for charitable giving. Another positive tendency deals with the growth of endowments, even in the times of the financial crisis. There are 36 endowments operating in Russia currently (ASI, 22.10.2009).
Alekseeva O. The Story of Trust in the Untrustworthy Times. The Modern Russian Philanthropy. Moscow: Eksmo Publishers. 2008.
Belokryltseva A., Belokryltseva D., Suvorova O. Business. Charity. Public Opinion. Moscow: Dialog Publishers. 2005.
Blagotvoritelnost’ v Rossii (Charity in Russia). A Historic and Socio-Economic Study. O. Leikind (Ed.). Saint-Petersburg: Zvezda Publishers. 2007.
Evans, Alfred, Jr.; Henry, Laura A.; McIntosh Sundstrom, Lisa (eds.). Russian Civil Society: A Critical Assessment. M.E. Sharpe. Armonk, London. 2006.
Business I Obshestvo (Business and Society). A journal published with the support of the Corporate Donors Club.
Den’gi I Blagotvoritelnost’ (Money and Charity). A journal published by CAF Russia.
Mersyanova I.V. The Practices of Philanthropy in Russia: The Involvement and Population’s Attitudes. Moscow: Higher School of Economics Publishers. 2009.