17. 10. 2023 Philanthropy

ASFIN is ready to remain a stable partner of the non-profit sector

The Association of Corporate Foundations and Funds is after ten years of activity a relevant and recognised authority that contributes to the development of corporate philanthropy in Slovakia.

In 1989, the Umelka Gallery was the formation site of the civic movement Public Against Violence, uniting people with the ambition to change the country for the better. Symbolically, it was in these premises that members of the Association of Corporate Foundations and Funds (ASFIN), which strive for the same goal through the support of public benefit activities, met. 

This year, ASFIN commemorates its tenth anniversary. “Collaboration is the goal for which the association was created. It is also a space for dialogue towards the non-profit sector. It is important for endowment funds and corporate foundations to find ways to modernise and advance corporate philanthropy,” said Martina Kolesárová, the executive director of the Pontis Foundation, which administers the association, on this occasion. 

Reflecting on the period from ten years ago, Fedor Blaščák, now the director of the Open Society Foundation, who was at the inception of ASFIN, recalled the early days. Over the decade, the association has become a relevant and recognised authority. It is a communication platform for people from corporate foundations and endowment funds to meet with partners from the third sector. We are looking for synergies and a model where we can complement each other and cooperate in a way that benefits the non-governmental organisation as a recipient of assistance the most,” said about the significance of the association Natália Tomeková, Head of Communication at O2 and a member of the Board of the Férová Foundation. 

Foundations and endowment funds have nothing to hide – they transparently publish financial data

Zuzana Thullnerová, the administrator of the Centre for Philanthropy Foundation, summarised the 2022 donation data of the association members. They used 90% of the total expenses of 14 million euros for public benefit purposes. Financial resources were redistributed to non-governmental organisations, schools, museums, community centres, leisure centres, libraries, and people with social or health disadvantages. The remaining amount of funds was used for administrative expenses, management of grant programmes, and promotion of the public benefit purpose of the foundation or endowment fund. 

ASFIN has long advocated for principles of transparency and ethics in the field of corporate giving. Since 2017, it has been awarding Certificates of Transparency. A transparent corporate foundation or fund must meet more than 20 criteria, including the publication of financial overviews of their activities. This year, after being audited, 16 foundations and endowment funds received the certificates. The certificate is proof that foundations and endowment funds are committed to transparency in the distribution of financial resources,” explained Natália Tomeková. 

A good donor remains even in times of crisis

Radana Deščíková, Senior Programme Manager at the Pontis Foundation, presented the outcomes of a stakeholder dialogue, where representatives of member foundations and endowment funds discussed how to be a good donor for non-profit organisations. They agreed that long-term cooperation, transparent and efficient communication are key for partnerships between companies and non-profit organisations. “A good donor supports the organisations even in tough times, especially during a societal crisis,” Radana Deščíková concluded. 

The evening also included a discussion with representatives from three sectors – corporate, civic, and state. Andrea Ungvölgyi, the administrator of the Orange Foundation, Marek Roháč, founder and chairman of the Return organization (orig. Návrat), and Filip Vagač, the Slovak Government’s Plenipotentiary for Civil Society Development, discussed the importance of strategic partnerships between companies and civil organisations. 

The number of unique approaches is increasing in Slovakia

“The non-profit sector often substitutes for the role of the state,” reminded the government’s plenipotentiary for civil society, Filip Vagač. He considers maintaining tax designation as a key prerequisite for sustaining partnerships between the corporate and non-profit sectors. “This financial mechanism is functional and truly unique. For me, the most valuable aspect is that it is independent,” he noted. 

Filip Vagač identified another unique feature in Slovakia as the partnership between the state and the third sector in the EU-Care programme, which distributes aid to those fleeing from Ukraine. “The Slovak government entrusted such a programme to a consortium of foundations for the first time,” said Filip Vagač. According to him, it would be meaningful to consider its continuation to also aid migrants. 

Another positive development is the increase in corporate philanthropy. The custodian of the Orange Foundation, Andrea Ungvölgyi, stated that the collaboration between the corporate sector and non-profit organisations is evolving in a good way. “We want to be a good donor for them, trying to simplify processes and administration. We want to learn and improve in this regard,” she clarified the stance of corporate foundations. 

The statement was signed by all members

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of cooperation under the ASFIN umbrella, members decided to voluntarily commit to three important pledges. All 16 members unanimously signed a statement committing to be: 

  • a stable partner to the non-profit sector both during and outside of crises,
  • supplement the tax designation mechanism with their own financial resources, 
  • reflect the needs of non-governmental organisations and support their institutional development with the goal of strengthening the democratic character of Slovakia. 

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