Clubbing in Slovakia – a model to develop indigenous community philanthropy.
Community Foundations in Slovakia have had many opportunities to learn from overseas CFs on their models in cooperation with individual donors. The visible impact of individual donors on community development was always admired and “envied” by Slovak observers. They understood that individual donors become the most “faithful and sustainable” supporters of own community. But how to transfer this cooperation to countries in which people have nearly none or only bad experience with philanthropy?
The first inspiration came from the program “500 friends of Banská Bystrica” realized by CF Healthy City in 1995-97. Early after the Foundation’s start, it received a grant from C.S.Mott Foundation for 90,000 USD. The contribution for the first year was provided without any additional conditions, the second and the third part of the payment was fixed to the condition to raise matching amount from local sources. They were supposed to raise 15,000 USD annually that was in that time significant amount of money (aprox. 500,000 SK). Being a new in this field, with no personal experience and almost no tradition of giving in the community it seems like a huge unrealizable task. But then the Board came with a great idea to break this huge amount down into smaller gifts and to find “500 friends of Banská Bystrica” who would contribute by 1,000 Sk. Later on we found out that even 1,000 Sk was a quite high amount for average person and we decrease the limit to 200 SK (which was the price of a good dinner). The Foundation’s goal was to create a mechanism that everybody could “afford” to donate and prove that also relatively small gift given to the Community Foundation has a sense and together with other gifts can help to change our community.
Based on Healthy City CF´s experience, Lubos Tvrdon, an active leader and co - founder of the Bratislava Community Foundation, proposed to disseminate this model within the whole members of Association in 2004. He suggested to establish a Club of Donors. Every CF motivated individuals from their own community to donate based on matching principles. Lubos engaged with two corporations - Orange and Slovak Saving Banks - which committed to contribute to all Clubs, each of them donated 1 SKK to each 1 SKK fundraised from local resources. The concept started to develop quite quickly. In the first years 20 - 30 individual donors contributed to every Club. Individual donors continuously started to be personally involved in the decision making process. CFs started to organize special events for individual donors to present community projects and to be involved in selection. Meetings became a tradition and enabled to build personal contacts among individual donors and particular CF. After 4 years of the program existence, the corporations decided to stop their matching activities. Local leaders of Slovak CFs stayed before a challenge how to continue the program without “strong” partnership with companies? The number of local individual donors contributing to the Club was not enough large to fundraise the resources required for grant making. In 2013, the Nitra Community Foundation came with the idea to support Club of Donors with a PR campaign to make the Club of Donor more known and attractive within the local community. Three young well known people (a famous soccer player, a TV presenter and a singer) became faces of campaign and helped significantly to popularize the idea of the Club of Donors in the Nitra region. As a result the number of members in the Club of Donor at the Nitra Community Foundation rapidly increased, it jumped from 37 members in 2012 to 139 in 2013 and 227 in 2014. The Club of Donors is now realized by four CFs in Slovakia. Its main aim is to motivate individual donors to contribute to development of their own community based on transparent and long term principles. Local individual donors are directly involved in the grant making process, they decide what community projects are supported from their finances. Around 350 people per year donate in the region of €17,000 annually through the Club of Donors.
Nitra Community Foundation