It is time to look at philanthropy as an investment, as something we give to society

This told Mr. Tomislav Donchev – Minister without portfolio, charged of EU funds management, at the opening of the conference “Inspired Philanthropy – How to Involve Others and Leave a Legacy”. The forum took place on 1st October and was organized by the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza”, along with the Bulgarian Donors’ Forum. Among the guest speakers were Mr. Kalin Kamenov – Chairman of the State Agency for Child Protection, Ms. Elitsa Barakova – Executive Director of the Bulgarian Charities Aid Foundation and Co-Chair of the CSR Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, Ms Iliyana Nikolova – Executive Director of the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation, Ms Desislava Hurmuzova from “Save Dari-na”, Ms Dobrina Cheshmedjieva from the Bulgarian National Television, Ms Velislava Popova – Editor-in-Chief of the Dnevnik Newspaper, and Mr. Kiril Valchev from Darik Radio.

In her statement Elitsa Barakova said that more business people tried to find adherents in their philanthropic initiatives, and companies became prouder of the causes they support and better in the way they communicate these with society. Iliyana Nikolova paid attention to the necessity for creation of infrastructure facilitating giving, such as tax deductions, philanthropic advisors, etc, but also to the importance of education of young generations to give. She also said that it was essential to convince givers to share their stories, because on this way we created good and inspirational role models.

The media representatives pointed out that when we talked about philanthropy, charity and volunteering more often we talked about a crisis situation and how we responded to it. It is very important to give examples of another type of causes as otherwise the idea about philanthropy and charity changes. The role of media is to be communicator of the need but also to work for building a giving culture, to be the voice of civic organizations what the meaning of giving is and whom givers should approach. The role of the non-for-profit sector is to link philanthropists with those who need the donation.

Tracy Gary’s book “Inspired Philanthropy – Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan and Leaving a Legacy” was also presented at the conference. It was published by the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza” and contains practical advice on how to structure our giving and accelerate the effect from our philanthropic activities.

The second panel was dedicated to communication of policies for deinstitutionalization and ways to involve stakeholders in the process of socialization of children from care institutions. During it School alumni working with the children from the Social Institution for Children with Disabilities in Vidrare, the Center for Family Type Accommodation in Velingrad and the Orphanage in Stara Zagora presented their experience. They shared what inspired them to support these children and what lessons they had learned. Policies for involving key stakeholders in social integration of children from care institutions and challenges in the process of deinstitutionalization, which were proposed by the working groups as result of their activities, were also presented at the conference.

In his final statement, Mr. Kalin Kamenov said that in order to offer the right services to children, we should know the needs and dreams of these children. He also shared his concerns that at the moment our society is not ready to accept those children. “The children at the care institutions should not be pitied, they have to be motivated. They must be trained in key social competences to be able to get integrated successfully. And here is the key role of non-governmental organizations – to provide trainings and create alternatives. State institutions and NGOs should work together for this cause”, he said.

The event was organized under the projects “Young Leaders Assisting the Social Integration of Children from Institutions”, supported through the Bonita Trust, and “Promoting Philanthropic Culture in Bulgaria”, funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.