Charitable Projects: Actual, Targeted and Model

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We are witnessing one of the most interesting periods in the development of charity and corporate social responsibility in Russia.

Russian business so far has quite a short history and relatively modest experience in charity practice. Add to that the specific national attitude towards charity in general and you'll see that charity is not a clear-cut matter. This makes the process of sharing ideas, models and technologies in charity, emerged and being developed in modern Russia since market economy rise, especially interesting.

Concept of charity as one of the spheres of corporate practice is developing along with the business itself. Each company understands the meaning of charity and corporate social responsibility and sponsorship in its specific way.

Here is our understanding. By social responsibility we mean an irreproachable attitude towards business, consumer, society and employees. We see it as our obligation to develop our business, to be a responsible taxpayer, to provide adequate working conditions and development opportunities for our employees. We understand our social responsibility as immaculate compliance with product quality standards, providing correct product information to the consumers, responsible use of resources and respectful attitude towards values of the country we work in.

We see charity as looking for, outlining and implementing programs aimed at those who are in need. We have five giving areas where we implement our charitable projects globally – extreme hunger and poverty, education development, environmental sustainability and living conditions in rural areas, and domestic violence and disaster relief. Our charitable projects all over the world reflect our corporate philosophy: We respect the society we work in and share its concerns, and participate in meeting acute societal challenges as much as we can.

I frequently hear a question -- "Does business need charity programs at all?" The answer is simple: It can't live without them. Responsible companies always accept their responsibility not only for production standards, but for the society as a whole, for its wellbeing and development.

Any business is naturally interested in predictable and long lasting future. One can make that happen only through everyday construction of corporate future as a part of societal. That's how we come to a simple truth -- corporate citizenship is in fact a strategy of building up stable and constructive interaction with society through understanding its needs and formation of mutually beneficial dialogue resulting in positive societal development.

We develop all our projects must be actual, targeted and serve as a model. As a rule, our finds are directed to non-commercial local organizations professionally and permanently working in the areas matching our donation directions. That does not however mean that having transferred the money to some foundation we consider our mission completed. We always have clear understanding of how many people will get our help, what will it consist of and how that will change their lives for the better.

Geographically, our charity projects in Russia cover almost all the country. Many projects are being implemented in Leningrad and Krasnodar regions, where our factories operate. And our focus on employee involvement is not the only reason for this. For example, since 2001 one of our factories together with Leningrad regional fund of social support is carrying out charity program for WWII veterans living in the Lomonosovskiy district of Leningrad region. This project is supported by the factory employees and their family members and is perceived very passionately by everyone.

Similar projects are being implemented in Krasnodar known for careful attitude to the elderly. One of our most impressive projects is our cooperation with Krasnodar regional fund of social protection. Last year we donated 10,000,000 rubles for purchasing individual equipment for elderly and disabled people who temporary or permanently reside in centers of social rehabilitation. Company funds were used for purchasing devices like holders for taking baths and showers, rehabilitation equipment and more. Small things, but their absence turns the lives of such people into torture. We are proactive in our charitable efforts, which means that we do not just review incoming requests for aid but look for interesting projects and even initiate our own.

Corporate future is impossible in isolation from the society. All of us, including government, opinion leaders, business community, belong to the same society and are interested in its harmonic, successful development. That's where we need to talk to each other and share information. Some business knowledge is a commercial secret, but charity isn't. We do not "patent" our charitable ideas and are ready to share projects models with other businesses.

We believe that charitable programs are a perfect tool for "fine tuning" government's socially oriented initiatives. Face it -- no single company in the country is able to finance the whole system of social protection. But business can -- and should -- upgrade governmental projects to perfection without compromises, so that the final recipient could feel real positive changes in his or her life. It is in people's nature to protect those who are need. Our history proves that only societies with high civil culture, which implies help for unprotected, have survived and prospered.

Business is not an alien civilization coming from outer space. Business is the part of the society naturally committed to its stability and prosperity. And honestly, the crisis, which is used so frequently now and then to justify compromises in business responsibility, is in fact another opportunity for government, business community and opinion leaders to ask each other -- what should I do to be more responsible with my role in our society, with my contribution to our shared future.