Key Points

Russia’s “back country” — remote, nonindustrial areas that are home to almost 40 percent of the population — was largely excluded from the changes brought about by perestroika. People who live in these areas, where NGOs are almost never present, are often unaware of the resources available to address local issues. These regions require new development models that focus on fostering community engagement, and the community foundation model has proven to be the most useful and adaptable.

This article is based on the results of research conducted by CAF Russia in 2016 on the development of community foundations in remote, rural communities and small towns in Russia. The goals of the research were to assess the current state of these foundations, analyze their activities, identify their characteristic features, and explore their role in community development as a unique phenomenon of local philanthropic activity in Russia. A number of case studies serve as examples.

This research, carried out as a part of CAF Russia’s Program for Development of Community Foundations and funded by the Global Fund for Community Foundations, found that the characteristic feature of Russian’s small community foundations is that they often become an element of local self-governance, promoting cooperation between residents and local officials by bringing them together to discuss a community’s needs and develop responses.

Open Access