How has the Ukrainian third sector changed in 2020?

By Eugenia Mazurenko, CEO, Zagoriy Foundation.

Online meetings, innovative charitable tools, creative approach, and digitalization. The third sector adopts commercial problem-solving approaches and tries to use the crisis as an impetus to qualitative changes.  

NGOs compete with the commercial sector not for money but for people’s attention. In other words, charity workers invest all available resources to make the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty, and other social problems as visible for the general public as the latest political news, new shows release, or presentation of a new smartphone! 

It is important to understand that there is nothing wrong with people’s desire to buy new stuff, live a happy life, and spend their money the way they want. The charity workers should not blame people for that. 

And when we try to transform charity into a popular social habit, we should provide this information in a positive or neutral way without engendering feelings of guilt and shame. 

To reach this goal the charities have started to use the same tools as the commercial sector does. Therefore, it is one of the three major charity trends in Ukraine in 2020.

Communications Development

Ukrainian charities tend to use social media the same way as business does. For instance, on Zagoriy Foundation’s social media profiles you can often find different quizzes, giveaways, live videos, latest reports, interesting facts, and other useful information. This summer we have launched a new Instagram activity, called “Invited Editor”. Our colleagues from other charities take over our Instagram page for a day and share their experience, best practices, professional secrets, advice, and knowledge with our followers.

Another trend in communications: charities try to involve influencers and stars into the popularization of charitable giving. Zagoriy Foundation supports the idea that good deeds should make a loud sound! It is widely believed that people share their charity experience only to promote themselves. However, this kind of communication promotes not only personalities but charity in general. Ukrainian charitable foundations are starting to understand this concept and encouraging people to share their good deeds publicly. 

Better together: collaborations and partnerships becoming more popular.  

It’s not a secret that sometimes charities compete for donors’ attention. However, it’s much more effective to solve common problems together. Collaboration is a popular trend in the Ukrainian charity sector. The charities collaborate not only with other NGOs, but also with business and media. It helps to increase charitable donations and achieve significant and systemic change in the society. 

For example, in February 2020 Zagoriy Foundation signed a Memorandum of Partnership and Cooperation with Ukrainian Cultural Foundation (UCF), a state-owned institution that supports cultural projects. This is in line with UCF’s overall fundraising strategy. The organizations hope that the partnership will help consolidate efforts to support Ukrainian cultural projects, contribute to the implementation of state policy in the field of culture and arts, and develop the competitive national cultural product. In the framework of this partnership Zagoriy Foundation provides financial support to two nationwide cultural projects.

Don’t rely on sole-source funding

The recent report Charity in times of coronavirus produced by Zagoriy Foundation reveals: before the coronavirus pandemic plenty of Ukrainian foundations were getting their funds either from big donors or from a limited number of permanent donors. After the economic crisis, the situation has rapidly changed. The pandemic’s painful side effect is deep budget cuts: small and medium-sized businesses reduce spending on social projects, big business often considers charities not as a partner, but as an executive unit; plenty of private donors have lost their jobs and can’t donate anymore. That is why partnerships with larger businesses or private donors could be complicated. However, people who temporarily can’t donate funds to charities can support charities as volunteers. 

Given the circumstances, the charities should start to rethink their attitude and put their eggs in different baskets. For instance, the charities could launch online fundraising campaigns, apply for grants provided by local and foreign donors, or even create a “special charity offer” to businesses. It is a micro-trend, which became popular due to the lockdown and tends to stay with us even after the end of the pandemic crisis. Therefore, the charities use a lot of creative tools to fill the budget gap (e.g. deliver educational online lectures, provide useful knowledge, organize sports activities, etc.) and encourage people to donate. It is also a good example of collaboration: volunteers offer their knowledge or services and charities look for customers. As a result, all collected funds are donated to charitable projects.

The other side of the coin

Apparently, despite all the positive changes in the charity sector, there are plenty of negative trends and consequences. A large number of organizations are forced to stop their activities due to lack of funding. Also, funds initially allocated for charitable projects were reallocated to coronavirus programs.

You can further information in our recent report Charity in times of coronavirus by independent Ukrainian research centre Socioinform and supported by Zagoriy Foundation. There is no doubt that the mentioned charity trends are relevant not only to Ukraine but also to other countries.

To find the report in English click here.


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By Eugenia Mazurenko, CEO, Zagoriy Foundation.

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