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  • The Social Role of Charity and Philanthropy*

    06.07.2017 | Comments | Culture | 196 Gulnar Nadirova

    Charity  is an urgent and immediate care about those who is in trouble and need help. The concept of philanthropy differs from charity, as it aims to improve the welfare by preventing and solving social problems. If the charity focuses on eliminating the suffering caused by social problems, then it can be mentioned that the philanthropy, which can be broadly defined as the love of humankind, focuses on eliminating social problems.

    There are many motives for charitable and philanthropic activities such as generosity, the desire for recognition, a sense of duty, religious commitment, civic duty, personal interests, and the desire to leave a better world for the next generation. Charitable and philanthropic activities help to invest human resources back into society to create social, spiritual and material benefits. During a decade, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation saved the lives of more than 6 million people through their health programs, and millions of people around the world every year are fed, protected, clothed, supported and empowered by countless other donors and philanthropists. [i] Thus, this activity also gives the opportunity and the ability to exert the greatest influence on the society.

    However, this activity should not be a substitute for public investments. The philanthropy should be as effective as possible, but in some cases, it does what the governments and companies are supposed to do. Many analysts believe that this may lead to a change in the balance of funding from the public sector to the private sector, thereby, jeopardizing those who need the basic social services, because private funding is subject to fluctuations and continuous reduction for a variety of reasons. Among them, the most important are the state of the economy, changed corporate policy, corporations’ assessment of the value they get from such expenditure. If the spending of charity increases in a sphere that is also funded by the government, there is a risk that the government will be less reluctant to spend money in social needs.

    The British Charity Aid Foundation, which publishes the CAF World Giving Index annually, placed Kazakhstan 96th in its report in 2016. The situation improved somewhat if we take into account the fact that as early as 2014 Kazakhstan was in the 101st position in the mentioned rating (among about 140 countries). [ii]

    There are a few foundations and non-governmental organizations in Kazakhstan that are engaged in charity professionally.  Historically the charity in Kazakh society was extended within a family, clan and community and also humanitarian assistance was  provided to communities and people who suffered during the deportation period. Evidence is provided by the events of the mid-20th century history, when Kazakhstan became one of the main territories for the deportation of small nations. For ideological reasons, millions of Koreans, Germans, Chechens, Ingush, Kalmyks, etc. were deported from their territories and were forced to remove to Kazakhstan. They were enlisted in the labor army without any payment and in fact doomed to extinction in severe climatic and living conditions. However, Kazakhstani citizens, with their high moral principles and humanism, took homeless and half-naked people into their houses and shared their one-room houses and their bread with these people. Kazakh parents often adopted orphans.  Nowadays, the country's existing funds – “Voluntary Society of Mercy” led by Aruzhan Sain, Charity Fund “Dara,” established by Gulnar Dosayeva, private charitable foundations “Ayala,” “Sabi,” “Eldani” - focus on their activities to help sick and disabled children, and orphans.

    In 2015-2016, philanthropists were most active in organizing charity events and fairs, helping orphans, low-income families, and supporting people with special needs. According to the organizers of the “Altyn Zhurek,” the special award for philanthropists, charitable assistance provided by the nominees for the period of 2015-2016 years was about 15.8 billion tenge. The greatest support was provided to the development of sports (over 30 sports schools and centers were built, repaired and equipped), assistance to seriously ill children, pupils of orphanages and boarding schools, as well as implementing social projects jointly with NGOs operating in Kazakhstan. The largest financial contribution of the organization to charity was 2 568 020 000 tenge. [iii]

    However, here we must take into account the fact that 2016 was the year of a large number of activities and events related to the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence. A considerable number of charitable events were devoted to these festivals.

    It was in 2016 that charity first became a new public function of the Assembly of the people of Kazakhstan. A pool of 300 big patrons was formed, and a state database of those in need of assistance was established. There were examples of “social responsibility” of businesses when companies channel funds to social projects from their profits and individually help the ones in need. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has repeatedly stressed that “the formation of the social responsibility of the state and business is one of the conditions for sustainable development.” The head of the state in an interview with the state channels once again urged the domestic business to develop patronage. [iv]

    One of the trends in the development of modern Kazakhstan is the accumulation of previously unimaginable wealth in private hands. It is common for people and families who have been able to accumulate wealth for several years to do much for the common good, using the charity and philanthropy.

    In this context, the philanthropic activity can play a very important role in Kazakhstan's society, supporting not only libraries, schools, hospitals, performing art centers and museums, but also scientific research, scholarships, civil rights protection, social services and other useful things for the society. The philanthropy can help to create good ideas, identify innovative solutions to complex problems, test them, develop evidence of their effectiveness, and then share them, and help to demonstrate opportunities that can be expanded and supported by both private sector and public sector.

    Not only rich people can engage in charity. It is possible to do charity and philanthropy not only by raising funds, sharing money or things with people in need, although these are the most common forms in Kazakhstan today. It is about giving attention, energy, effort and talent to create the world in which we would want to live. Not only prosperous companies, banks, businesspersons, but also everyone can do something to make their community, their city, their state, their country or the world a better place to live. When you devote your time to others - you give them something very valuable, because time is also very valuable.

    President Nazarbayev proposed several projects, which, he believes, could be deployed in the coming years. He emphasized these projects in his programmatic article named “Looking to the future: modernization of public consciousness.” [v] The President offers businessmen, officials, representatives of intelligentsia and youth, to support their homeland, to find various forms of support and social respect that will help their native village or city, including the mechanism of sponsorship. He emphasizes that it is possible to green the city, greatly help computerize schools and support regional universities, art funds of local museums and galleries. In fact, the President calls on to participate in charity or philanthropic activity.

    Thus, the charity and the philanthropy, which grow out of the human desire to serve, help and benefit others, must become important components of a healthy and functioning Kazakhstani society. As the President of the country calls for, this is the path for the most developed countries of the world. The elimination of problems that society faces today is hardly possible, but we must follow the path of education of culture and tradition of the philanthropy in the country. As in all civilized countries, charity and philanthropy should become a norm of life in Kazakhstan.



     [ii]  World Giving Index 2016 (PDF). Charities Aid Foundation. November 2016.




    *Published in the July 2017 No. 19 issue of the "Asya Avrupa: Haber-Yorum" journal.

    Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute's editorial policy.

    Tags: Charity, Philanthropy, Kazakhstan


  • Senior Research fellow

    Gulnar Nadirova

    Nadirova Gulnar Ermuratovna graduated from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, in 1990 she defended her thesis on the Algerian literature at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, in 2006 doctoral thesis - on modern Tunisian literature at the Tashkent Institu