Draft Law of Georgia on Philanthropy, Charity and Social Partnership Focuses on Peace and Social Justice

In 2011 the Taso Foundation, as part of the partnership grant from Global Fund for Women started work with the aim to develop a draft law on philanthropy and promote the culture of philanthropy in Georgia. This program is still underway, having been continued with the support of Open Society – Georgia Foundation.

Besides devastating people and bringing about humanitarian disaster and loss of territories, the 2008 war also attracted support from the West a small portion of which was allocated to civil society organizations to work with internally displaced citizens. At the end of 2008, Taso Foundation joined the Foundations for Peace (FFP) Network and became familiar with the concept of ‘Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace’.

In March 2009, as part of the FFP group we joined large and small foundations in a conference in Cairo titled ‘Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace’, dedicated to its philosophy, importance, practice and development prospects, while also becoming participants of an informal global network under the same name. In 2010 as part of the network process to further philanthropy for social justice and peace, we undertook analysis of the philanthropic media in our respective countries. In Georgia, we discovered that we do not have “philanthropic media”.

By that time, it had already become evident that the perennial efforts of donors and civil society organization did not bring about unwavering democratic development, or economic growth, or sustainable peace, or defeat of poverty or middle class forming, or social justice in Georgia, much like in many post-Soviet countries, and the country remained “a developing state”. At the same time, we should not assert that civil society organizations are persecuted and their activities are controlled by the state. It could be asserted, however, that civil society organizations are ignored, and in the case of women’s organizations even marginalized – which is even worse – not only by the state, but a majority of our population as well. Most of our citizens are in need, struggling to survive and make it on the list of those socially vulnerable.

The state of affairs at that time showed that it is necessary to develop and empower a responsible civil society with the existing resources in the country, such as citizens’ conscious social engagement and the contribution of business to the cause of ensuring democratic development, social justice and peace.

The Essence of Philanthropy: Building knowledge and supporting community initiatives
Thus the program was launched to create awareness about and promote the essence of philanthropy. The process included a poster campaign on ‘Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace’ and a letter explaining the essence, forms and principles of philanthropy. The program targeted Taso Foundation partners: IDPs and conflict-affected groups (16 communities, over 300 people). Further, a one-day training module was developed with a view to becoming familiar with the essence of philanthropy and how it differs with charity. 10 training sessions were delivered to groups of young volunteers in various villages and IDP settlements of Georgia. As volunteers, these youth groups came to view themselves as philanthropists and, as part of the ‘Philanthropy Needs of Your Community’ survey, unanimously and independently named a community library, as their priority need.

With a view to supporting the establishment community libraries, introduction of the culture of reading, and other voluntary activities, Taso Foundation issued small grants financing to nine projects developed by the youths in accordance with the needs of their respective communities. Today, the libraries are operational and the youths strengthen their communities and civil society through their voluntary activities. Although attempts to raise funds to ensure the youth groups’ further development and the expansion of the network have failed, Taso Foundation continues to cooperate with the youth groups and support their efforts aimed at promoting their activities and networking on a voluntary basis. Read more about the program here.

The Draft Law: Law of Georgia on Philanthropy, Charity and Social Partnership
Alongside the process of raising awareness about the essence of philanthropy, and supporting youth groups volunteer activities to spread the idea of philanthropy for social justice and peacebuilding, Taso Foundation also initiated a legislative process that supports philanthropy and social partnership with support from civil society, mainly women’s organizations. On May 23, 2012, we presented the first draft version of this law to representatives of those organizations that had worked at various times on issues related to legislation promoting the activities of civil society organizations.

The meeting with civil society organizations at the conference hall of Open Society – Georgia Foundation on June 8, 2012 proved to be decisive in terms of obtaining support. At this meeting, Women’s Fund in Georgia presented the results of its research Legislative Basis and Practices of Charity Activities, while Taso Foundation presented its ongoing program Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace, which included the definition of terms introduced by the draft law in Georgian legislation for the first time.

The audience, representatives of some 42 women’s organizations, including 7 community funds, and Caucasian Institute for Economic and Social Research (CIESR) supported the legislative initiative. At the following meeting, a work group was established, and the process of development and refining of the draft law ensued, with the participation of representatives of civil society organizations, including financial managers, lawyers, and economists, and active engagement on the part of Open Society – Georgia Foundation, a philanthropy organization that has been carrying out purposeful activities in Georgia since 1994.

On July 25, 2013, our supporters and members of the parliament, Mr. Zviad Kvachantiradze and Ms. Guguli Maghradze, initiated the submission to the Georgian Parliament of this draft law authored by Taso Foundation and all organizations and experts involved in its development.

P.S – On account of the presidential elections in October 2013 the Georgian Parliament has postponed consideration of the Draft Law to early November 2013. We are still responding very actively to questions and comments on the draft-law of both state and non-state actors. We have to argue for every paragraph of the draft-law. Encouragements from members of the PSJP community and blog readers would be valuable and extremely supportive to us.

Click on the attachment to download and read the main document of the draft law package. Please write with questions of clarification and comments to Tamta Tatarashvili at tamta@taso.org.ge and Marina Tabukashvili marina@taso.org.ge