200th Anniversary of U.S.-Russia Diplomatic Relations (1807-2007) US Department of State
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Bicentennial Partnerships: Philanthropy

Bicentennial Partnerships reflect American and Russian cooperation in a range of areas as part of the U.S. Embassy Moscow's commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of U.S. - Russia Diplomatic Relations.

Reaching Common Ground in Philanthropy

From their founding of public libraries and volunteer fire departments in the Colonial era, Americans long have demonstrated their eagerness to build public institutions and help their fellow citizens by donating their time, labor and money. America's federal, state, and local governments value these efforts highly and have increasingly encouraged Americans to continue and expand their volunteerism.

U.S. corporations also recognize the value of philanthropy: many U.S. firms are increasing the practice of "matching funds," allowing employees to direct corporate giving more fully; other American companies pay employees’ salaries while they take time off to participate in humanitarian or relief efforts. According to the Giving USA Foundation, corporate donations reached an unprecedented $14 billion in 2005.

Although "venture" philanthropy -- a term first coined by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 -- is often associated with donors who give on a large scale, individuals of modest means also are engaged. Innovations in philanthropy have made it possible for more American individuals to give money to those less fortunate. In 2005, American giving topped $260 billion, with more individuals, including those not so well off, giving small amounts of money, using the Internet, to causes in which they believe

As part of its Bicentennial Partnership Series, the U.S. Embassy and local partners will host a special conference on the subject of philanthropy in 2007. The goal will be to examine the American history of charitable giving from its roots in the "robber baron" era and the growing philanthropic trends in the Russian Federation.

For more information, please email 200thanniversary@gmail.com. For further information, please see the U.S. Life and Culture page offered by the U.S. Department of State.

Snapshot: Philanthropy in Russia

In 2006, after many years of hard work and lobbying by Russian and Western NGOs and philanthropy experts, President Putin signed an endowments law, which will allow the creation of charitable endowments with special tax privileges. Philanthropic activity has been growing in Russia at the pace of the economy: about six per cent annually, according to recent research by the Charities Aid Foundation. Corporate donors provide about 75 percent of donations and the donations of the 30 largest amount to USD 1.5 billion per year. More than 60 percent of company owners reported in a recent study that they have increased their philanthropic activity since 2000. Foreign private NGOs and donors constitute 8.4 percent of total Russian contributions.

According to the Center of Economic and Financial research (CEFR), companies spend about 11-17 percent of their net profits on social needs (which include not only charity but non-wage employee benefits, including subsidies for housing, day care, recreation, and medical services), while for Western companies the equivalent expenditure is roughly 0.5-1 per cent. Philanthropy in Russia often emphasizes culture and education. Approximately USD 70 million in grants and scholarships was donated by Russian private foundations in 2005. Many companies support youth programs, including scholarships, professional training, and internships.

Andrew Carnegie The Great American Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie's life was a true "rags to riches" story. Born to a poor Scottish family that immigrated to the United States, Carnegie became a powerful businessman and a leading force in the American steel industry. Today, he is remembered as an industrialist, millionaire, and philanthropist. Carnegie believed that the wealthy had an obligation to give back to society, so he donated much of his fortune to causes like education and peace. Read more from the Library of Congress and the Public Broadcasting Corporation.

Early poster on American Charitable Giving