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CAF-Russia is a charitable organization registered as both a foreign representative office of Charities Aid Foundation (UK) and a Russian nonprofit group. Its mission is "to promote the sustainability of the nonprofit sector in Russia." It currently has a staff of 23 full-time employees and a yearly budget of over $500,000. CAF runs over 10 projects and has support from nearly as many donors. The group has a library, a wide range of consultation services, and a research and publications department. All information is available to the public in CAF-Russia's library, which they fairly describe as "the best-stocked NPO library in Russia." A magazine, Money and Charity, is published every two months (in Russian).
CAF-Russia opened in August 1993. Since then, it has created a wide range of services and programs for NGOs and donors as part of its three-point mission:
- To assist foreign and Russian donors and provide them with detailed information about the Russian nonprofit sector, legal and fiscal issues, funding opportunities, priorities and partnerships; effective project and money management services; and design of corporate sponsorship programs
- To assist democratic developments in Russia by encouraging legal awareness and respect for human rights, strengthening nonprofit management training, and helping NGOs improve their relations with the public, media and government
- To work as an intermediary to increase the flow of international resources to Russia.
Since the beginning of 1997, CAF-Russia has worked closely with the Association of Russian Banks and leading Russian and international companies to create the independent Donors' Forum in Moscow. A large seminar on corporate giving took place in May 1997 with the participation of representatives of the Moscow government, the federal parliament, leading NGOs, and 32 of the largest Russian banks. Other CAF activities include training workshops, roundtables, lectures, conferences, legal and financial consultations (free to any Russian NGO), and legislative lobbying. CAF is involved in a working group of corporate representatives, which has proposed a revision to the Russian tax code whereby companies making donations to local charities that have received "charitable passports" from the Moscow Charitable Council can reduce their local tax obligations by up to 100 percent of the amount of their donations.
Currently, CAF-Russia is working to develop a Moscow Community Foundation along the lines of the New York Community Trust or similar institutions. NYCT, the first and largest community foundation in the world, hosted a CAF-organized study trip in September 1998 for 11 persons representing Moscow city government, the corporate sector, and NGOs.
CAF is also implementing a Local Community Cooperation Models program. Sponsored by the Ford Foundation, this program will look for and document "sustainable models of local community participation, corporate giving, and local government understanding" in five cities in Russia: four cities where there is already a healthy NPO sector—Moscow, St. Petersburg, Saratov, and Tyumen—and one city, Orel, where Communist influence is still strongly felt. Orel was chosen to see how a new approach to community development and cooperation can be introduced in a very conservative Russian region. The experience gathered there will provide strategies for working in similar Russian oblasts. After the investigative part of this project is concluded, the second component will be to develop and draft new legislation for local-level nonprofit work based on the results.
Last updated: June 1999
A print version of much of the information contained in this NIS Third Sector Organizations section can be found in the The Post-Soviet Handbook (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1999).