18. 04. 2023 Philanthropy

Impact Talks: Is philanthropy a one-person thing? Often, it is a family affair

Conversations about philanthropy occasionally appear in every family - you talk with the children about helping; at Christmas, you leave a symbolic plate for a traveller; in March, you decide which organisation you assign two per cent of your tax at Sunday lunch. So to what extent is philanthropy just an individual thing? We discussed this at the fifth Impact Talks event. The central theme of the evening was philanthropy and family.

“When we hear or read about philanthropy stories, they often feature successful individuals. However, when we delve deeper into these stories, it almost always turns out that other characters and heroes are equally important – partners, spouses, grandparents or children,” said the executive director of the Pontis Foundation, Martina Kolesárová, at the beginning of the event. During the evening, we listened to the philanthropic stories of three couples – a father and daughter, a father and son, and a married couple.

Is philanthropy hereditary?

The Impact Talks event was held on the premises of Pálffy Palace, which is a national cultural monument from the 17th century. If it weren’t for the Pavlů family, which in the 1990s set out to save the building, its story would probably have been lost forever. Karol Pavlů and his daughter Darina Pavlů allowed us to see the progress of the revival and renovation of the palace. They thus revealed a piece of their family’s philanthropic story. They shared their experiences of saving this historic building from imminent demolition.

“We decided that Pálffy Palace would be a place for people who have something to say,” said Karol Pavlů, who is the grandson of tanner and philanthropist Ján Pálka (you can read his story here), about the rescue. He also noted that he thought philanthropy was hereditary.

25 years of social innovation

Mária and Jozef Ondáš, who founded the DEDO Foundation in Košice and the Dorka centres, showed us that you do not need to have hundreds of thousands in your account to help, but you can start small. Their philanthropic story began with donating a pair of bicycles to an orphanage.
Their perspective on philanthropy evolved as they spent more time with children and families in need. “Just giving is not right; you have to eliminate problems, help people grow and try to get them to stand on their own two feet,” said Jozef Ondáš. The couple has supported social innovations in Slovakia for over 25 years.

“The main mission of each of us is to make the world more beautiful and better. Helping the less fortunate is one of the best ways to fulfil this mission.”

Mária Ondášová

The evening host, Milan Junior Zimnýkoval, also asked the couple for advice for “starting” philanthropists. How to decide on philanthropy, for example? Jozef Ondáš answers unequivocally: “Decide smartly and choose the right organisation for cooperation. It should be an organisation you trust and which, in your opinion, does things efficiently and correctly.”

An opportunity for a deeper life

Two Andrejs also shared their perspective on helping – Andrej Kiska Jr, one of the founders of the Slovak startup scene, and Andrej Kiska Sr, the founder of Good Angel and the President of the Slovak Republic,.

For the Kiskas, giving and helping are a natural part of their family conversations. However, personal experience is not transferable, which Andrej Kiska Jr. also confirmed in the discussion.

“In my opinion, philanthropy is an opportunity to live a deeper life. And everyone can live based on the options available – some people have time, some financial means or other possibilities. I think that it can be done without much money,” he says.

Andrej Kiska Sr, in turn, emphasised the need to talk about helping: “The more examples of people who openly say that they donated money, the more people who are enlightened and inspired by it. People shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and say, ‘I help, join me‘.”

We are very grateful to our partners Fondati & Partners and Subin & Partners, who work with family businesses, for their support in organising this philanthropic event.

Who we are

We create strong and meaningful linkages between the corporate, civic and public sectors in our three strategic topics – social innovation, philanthropy and responsible entrepreneurship. We build expertise our expertise in these issues, bring trends, promote long-term impact, and inspire.

Pontis Foundation
Zelinarska 2821 08

Phone: (+421 2) 5710 8111
Contact for media:
Phone: (+421 2) 5710 8113


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