A Step towards Philanthropy for Systemic Change: Lessons from Georgia

2 Aug, 2012


Source: Philantrophy For Social Justice and Peace

Taso Foundation is a National Women’s Fund and Memory Research Centre of Georgia working towards Women’s Empowerment for Human Rights, Equality, Social Justice and Peace in Georgia. The organisation works to promote women’s human rights, gender equality, local democracy building, philanthropy and social development of local women’s communities.
Georgian society, based on its historic and religious experience always has been prone to charity and volunteer activities. Culture of giving, social support and kinship is even formulated in a customary law which has helped the country overcome many social and economic hardships for centuries.

Today the society continues to be socially active but is focused on one-time sporadic charity giving with no proper understanding and projection for long-run and systematic change that can result in well developed, stable socio-political system forming a strong basis for sustainable development and stable peace. Philanthropic activities are often equated with charity deeds, which hinders a philanthropic process where responsibilities are shared and the giver and receiver work towards a mutual goal.

The legislative environment does not fully support philanthropic activities. The law provides that all non-profit civil society organizations should get the status of charity organisations in order to receive tax incentives but do not take into consideration enough tax incentives for both, non-profit and business organizations willing to participate in philanthropic activities. Also, important legislative norms are missing to regulate this issue.

Taso Foundation initiated the Programme “Philanthropy for Social Change” in December 2011 with the financial support of Global Fund for Women and Open Society-Georgian Foundation. The programme promotes greater understanding of the concept of philanthropy in Georgia to contribute to positive social change and development of vibrant civil societies, to support leadership and teaching, as well as develop a strong network of Georgian organisations promoting the philosophy of philanthropy.
The programme’s objectives are:

  1. to raise awareness of the wider public about the essence of philanthropy, and support youth groups volunteer activities at grassroots levels to spread the idea of philanthropy for social justice and peacebuilding among peers
  2. to initiate a legislative process that supports Philanthropy and social partnership and to harness support and cooperation from NGOs, academia and business sectors to advocate for legislative changes

Alongside drafting of a national law on philanthropy, TF developed has a short training module for groups of young volunteers affiliated with partner community organizations in different regions of Georgia. The module contains:

  1. informational section about the concept of philanthropy itself, its forms and variations with focus on philanthropy’s role in social justice and peace
  2. some practical work for participants to identify the need for philanthropy on the local level to address the social, economic or other issues/problems that their communities are facing

In all 9 trainings have been conducted in conflict affected villages and settlements of internally displaced persons in Georgia. The trainings aided the participants in charting the problems and needs of their community and in identifying long-term community engagement activities they can undertake with small funds and volunteer work.

The result of project work remains to be seen and TF foresees the real challenge when the drafting process for a national ‘Law on Philanthropy and Social Partnership’ is complete and the draft is delivered to the parliament. In the meanwhile TF plans to continue its work towards promotion of the concept of philanthropy in Georgia in order to create a conducive environment for philanthropic giving that supports the development of democratic values, social justice and peace in the country.

(For further information write to Tamta Tatarashvili at )

The August 2008 war significantly affected the whole society in Georgia, as well as civil society actors, Taso Foundation (TF) among them. It meant involvement in humanitarian activities to provide immediate assistance to war affected population, as well as certain changes in the scheduled working agenda of TF. At the end of 2008, TF developed a new strategy for the years of 2009-2011, prioritising Human Rights Advocacy and Social Mobilization Programs for conflict affected and internally displaced women for achieving sustainable development, peace and security. The August events also encouraged TF to become a member of the Foundations for Peace Network.