The volunteerism support standard in the Russian regions was approved following the meeting of the Supervisory Board of the ASI held in Petrozavodsk on July 26 at the business forum "Karelia: Points of Growth".
The standard includes measures aimed at overcoming 5 groups of barriers: organizational and legal, information and methodological, infrastructural, as well as barriers in the field of encouraging and funding volunteer activities.
“This is not some complex document; it’s only 9 steps, 9 points, which can be adopted today by every region to respond to the community’s request,” said Svetlana Chupsheva, General Director of the ASI.
According to her, about 40 constituent entities of the Russian Federation in all federal districts have already confirmed their willingness to become pilot sites for the introduction of measures to promote volunteerism until July 2018. For them, guidelines have been developed and coordinated with the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, which describe the sequence of actions and the best regional practices for each of the 9 steps.
Step 1. Adopting a regulation for interaction between regional government bodies and socially-oriented non-profit organizations (SO NPO), volunteer organizations
“This is understandable and clearly defined rules, these are the requirements for volunteers. Remember that we told you about who a volunteer is for a director of a hospital or a school. He or she is personally responsible for safety in his or her institution. Therefore, surely, a volunteer should meet certain requirements and, may be, he or she should work through a non-profit organization to remove these risks for the head of the institution. This should be described in the regulation,” Svetlana Chupsheva explained.
Step 2. Appointing a person responsible for volunteerism development in the region at a level not lower than the deputy head of a constituent entity of the Russian Federation
The responsible person shall approve the priority areas of volunteerism support in the region. “The same deputy head of a constituent entity, for whom volunteerism, expansion and development of non-public sector is not a problem or is solved residually, must consider it as a priority task for which he should report to the head of the constituent entity,” Svetlana Chupsheva stated.
Step 3. Creating a council on volunteerism
An advisory body shall be created at the office of the head of a region, taking into account the specifics of volunteerism in the region. The council should include the main organizers of volunteer activities, including SO NPOs, leaders of volunteer groups, public associations and organizations, businesses.
“The work of a project office is impossible without direct involvement of people engaged and working in this sector. The Governor cannot control everywhere how this standard works and whether it really meets the needs of volunteers,” ASI’s General Director stressed.
Step 4. Opening resource centers
Svetlana Chupsheva: “This is an infrastructure – volunteerism development centers, the platform that can present today both training and educational programs and best practices of volunteerism development for a region, as well as some implementation of partnership programs, together with large corporations and charity foundations”.
Step 5. Allocating subsidies and grants to volunteer organizations
In case of holding a regional competition of subsidies for SO NPOs and grant competitions, it is necessary to single out, as an independent field, the projects aimed at involving people into volunteerism, supporting the volunteer association activities, popularization of volunteerism and charity, informing the public about activities in the field of volunteerism and charity; priority should be given to volunteer centers providing integral services.
Step 6. Providing information support and popularization of volunteerism
Information about opportunities to participate in volunteer activities, including by different fields, as well as about the available measures of state support, shall be published at the official websites of municipalities and executive authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation. A volunteer center shall also have its own representative office online.
“We are ready to invite our regions to use the federal portal ‘Volunteers of the Russian Federation’, to join this system for the information about this system to be available at the regional level. And for each resident to have an opportunity to participate in regional and federal volunteer programs to support various groups of population,” the Head of the ASI stated.
Step 7. Preparing volunteers and officials
Within the volunteer center, it is necessary to organize regular training programs in the priority areas of support to volunteer activities. It is also necessary to support training programs being implemented by organizers of volunteer activities in the region. Another field of activity shall be replicating training programs for public officials and employers of subordinate state and municipal institutions to involve SO NPOs and volunteers in their activity.
Step 8. Developing measures to encourage volunteers
“Certainly, there must be some incentives, but not financial; it should be rather recognition and appreciation, support to volunteers. Today, many regions already have such regional awards – a volunteer badge or a certificate of honor. It is very important for them. They really fight for it in a good sense; it supports them morally, meaning that they do right things, that are important and necessary. Therefore, we want all regions applying and implementing this standard to have such awards,” Svetlana Chupsheva stated.
Step 9. Standard implementation assessment
The region shall build up a system of feedback from volunteers, SO NPOs, and other volunteer organizations, based on the principles of general accessibility and openness. Elements of this system must be channels of direct communication with the responsible person, the expert activity of the Council, and assessing the socio-economic effects of the standard implementation.
The development of a volunteerism support standard in the regions and its implementation in pilot regions is provided in Item 14 of the Plan of measures for the development of volunteerism in the Russian Federation, as approved by the Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation V.L. Mutko on July 5, 2017 and registered under No. 4723ï-Ï44.