People around meeting table

CAF Global Alliance

BUILDING TIES BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE UK

CAF Russia and EUCLID partnered to bring together charity leaders from both the Russia and UK to exchange knowledge.

Building Ties

Around the world, NGOs are having to find new ways to adapt to changes in the political and financial landscapes they operate in. The charity and social enterprise sector in Russia and the UK is no exception to this - and despite a complex relationship between the two countries, experts from both sides came face to face in December, only to discover that they deal with many of the same issues and have more in common than they thought.

Wrapping up at the CAF offices in London, the week-long event brought together 13 visitors from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Novosibirsk, as well as members of the EUCLID Network, and charity sector professionals based in the UK.

The aim of the first-of-its-kind programme was to help organisations exchange knowledge on how to strengthen civil society and social enterprise by seeking alternative solutions and building sustainability.

This comes before a visit to Russia by the programme’s UK counterparts in March 2019.

Euclid exchange programme at CAF
“This is a very important time for both the UK and Russia. Political tensions are high, but there is still an opportunity for civil society to work together despite that.”

She added: “We are looking to build a future collaboration between the two countries. We are giving each individual participant the opportunity to connect and exchange good practices and provide a business base for future collaboration. And a lot of it is in their hands as to how to use this opportunity.”

Marta Bruschi, Programme and Network Manager at EUCLID network

Inspiring change

Being paired up with industry experts was invaluable in being able to look inwardly and be inspired to bring about change, according to many of the event participants.

"The peer I was matched with was very business orientated so it was different but it was very useful. I got some ideas on how our NGOs could be more pro active and I am taking home with me several ideas about how we can diversify our income streams. I think we need to restructure the way we work. We tend to think we don’t have enough employees… but I see organisations in the UK with fewer employees doing the same if not even more work."

Irina Makeeva, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Centre in Novosibirsk

Grigory Sverdlin, a director at Nochliezka, a non-profit charity organisation which provides assistance to homeless people, paid a visit to Oxford with his counterpart Tim Sadler (Executive Director Sustainable City at Oxford City Council) to see the range of charitable projects happening in the innovate city – and is now looking to realise his plans of creating a new social enterprise in Russia.

"It was really interesting to step in and talk to people and make contacts that will help us and our colleagues. Who knows maybe in a year there will be a café that employs homeless people in Russia. It is just the beginning of social enterprise in Russia, even charity is young in the country."

Another participant, Olga Smurova (Deputy Director at the Social Rehabilitation Center in Nizhny Novgorod), was given a tour of social enterprises in Durham by her peer Kate Welch.

"It was great to see how many social enterprises there are in the UK and how many volunteers are involved. I think that the more opportunities there are for people to be involved, the less people will be excluded in society. I am really looking forward to seeing the peers in Russia and showing them what is going on in our country. It is not as developed in Russia but many things are being done.”

Building financial sustainability

In the UK, NGOs have had a long history of grant and government funding, but are developing new solutions to diversify their income and apply different models of sustainability, such as philanthropic donations or social entrepreneurship models. Although they operate in a very different climate, important lessons can still be taken and applied in Russia, where the sector is still growing within a changing landscape of local government and international funding.

This is why the EUCLID Network, which works to strengthen civil society and increase its visibility in business, academia, government and the wider society, joined forces with the British Embassy in Moscow, and CAF Russia to deliver the programme.

EUCLID’s aim was to work to identify NGOs in Russia that would benefit from building on their leadership and entrepreneurial capacity. The network sees income diversification as a tool that gives NGOs more independence to defend human rights, promote non-discrimination and equality.

CAF Russia's role

Using their expertise on the ground, the team at CAF Russia identified local and validated NGOs that would be relevant for the programme. Peers from these organisations would then be matched to contacts from the EUCLID Network based on their common experience and goals.

Marta added: “The matching is the most important aspect of this process. And CAF Russia was able to help us with the most relevant parties in their country. We also relied on their expertise and had a lot of discussions with the team about potential challenges that both sides may face, to get a better picture of what the programme agenda could be.”

CAF Russia and the Global Alliance

CAF Russia is a partner of the CAF Global Alliance, a network of nine locally-led, independent organisations that work across six continents.

Over the last 25 years, the Global Alliance and its international presence has led to breakthroughs and social change that’s had a positive effect on the lives of millions of vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities.

At its core, the Global Alliance works to help strengthen civil society worldwide as part of the Charities Aid Foundation, a champion for giving that works to help donors, companies and charities make a bigger impact.

CAF Global Alliance

By working with donors, the CAF Global Alliance has helped make a real difference to charities of all sizes around the world.

Discover the Global Alliance