Thank you for an exceptional year of giving and helping others

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As the year draws to a close, we like to look back and consider what we accomplished with your help. Despite the pandemic in 2020, we saw many examples of solidarity, everyday heroism and hope across the Czech Republic. The pandemic showed how important trust, a willingness to help others and give can be.

2020 was a truly exceptional year for civil society and philanthropy. Over our online giving platform, for instance, we saw an unbelievable $10 million (CZK 230 million) in gifts from donors to non-profit organizations across the Czech Republic (compared to $4.7 million or CZK 128 million in 2019).

It was also an extraordinary year for Via Foundation. Despite the pandemic, we saw a record number of applications – a sure sign that Czech civil society is growing – and thanks to your support, we were able to satisfy part of this demand, providing support to over 200 projects. We awarded more than $1.8 million (CZK 40 million) in grants – more than twice the grant volume in 2019. We also helped the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra organize a moving benefit concert during the first wave of the pandemic, where more than 20,000 donors sent in $346,965 (CZK 7 million) to support Czech health care professionals. At the Broumov monastery, young musicians gave an inspiring benefit concert. Hundreds donated and Via matched the proceeds, which were used for further development of this remote border region. 

Here’s what happened in our programs in 2020:

The Community in which We Live

In 2020, we supported 4 participatory public space improvement projects with grants, community engagement guidance, workshops and inspirational outings. (Shown below is an early meeting in the town of Chudčice). Although Covid-19 later limited in-person meetings, the supported project teams developed creative online meeting alternatives to gather ideas to improve their public spaces. With the help of our community engagement advisors, they will continue in spring 2021 with planning,designing and building their public spaces.

Living Communities

In 2020, we awarded 197 small grants in the Living Communities program – twice as many as 2019. That included 88 neighborhood projects, such as a new community center housed in an old villa that brings together people from various social and ethnic groups (shown in the photo below). It also included 19 Fast Grants awarded to people addressing urgent local issues, like saving an orchard, and 90 Covid-19 microgrants for groups e.g. sewing face masks or helping isolated senior citizens. We also held regular online meetings for the supported project leaders during the pandemic to give them a chance to inspire each other and exchange ideas for solving problems.

Young Philanthropists

Despite the pandemic, in 2020 we helped 15 teams of children and young people plan charity events for good causes. In one project, a team of friends in Český Krumlov organized a charity sports afternoon (photo below) to raise money for a 3-year-old girl named Natálka, who has a congenital illness and needs to raise money to cover the costs of transportation to physical therapy. With Via’s matching grant, they were able to raise over $5,500 (CZK 125,000). Other Young Philanthropists charity events will take place in spring 2021.

Via Bona Awards

Our Via Bona Awards put giving in the spotlight. This year, we held an online ceremony, recogizing 5 award winners who also each received $900 (CZK 20,000) towards their non-profit work. We also honored three people who dedicated their time, money and/or expertise to help people during the pandemic, including for example, Lucie Hyblerová and her Breakfaststory platform, which made meals available to needy people (shown in the photo below).

The Art of Giving

Through our journal the Art of Giving, we strive to inspire people to give charitably by presenting the stories of exceptional donors and the impact their philanthropy has on pressing problems. We had published the journal independently since 2012, until June 2020, when we began publishing it as a quarterly that is part of the renowned magazine Reportér. This enabled us to reach many more people. The key theme during 2020 was, naturally, how people helped others during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the development of resilient, self-sufficient communities. We will publish a yearbook edition in spring 2021 showcasing these themes.

Don’t Be Afraid of Local Politics: Supporting emerging civic leaders

Over the past few years, we’ve noticed a new trend: some community project leaders tend to move on to help their communities in a more holistic way by taking local office. They find that their work as community leaders gives them the a keen sense of how to engage the public. At the same time, they often lack knowledge of how local politics work. Through our program Don’t Be Afraid of Local Politics, we connect them with mentors who share their insight. In 2020, we engaged 14 emerging leaders in this program.

Via Foundation developed and administers the largest online giving tool in the Czech Republic, It enables community groups, institutions as well as municipalities to hold fundraising drives for good causes. In 2020, over 800 organizations and towns received funding through this platform. Donors gave over $10 million (CZK 230 million) to both pandemic related issues and others..

Community Alphabet

This is an international capacity building program focused on community building and diversity sensitivity, which responds to the growing fragmentation and polarization we see in society. It is aimed at the staff and advisors of three leading organizations which support communities in the Central and Eastern European region – Via in the Czech Republic, Trag in Serbia and the Hungarian Association for Community Development. We launched the first of the program’s two rounds in 2020 and adapted the planned meetings to the online environment.

Partner projects

We work with corporate partners to develop tailor-made tools to grow employee giving. In 2020, we helped a company involve three-quarters of its employees in supporting a broad spectrum of charitable organizations and individuals in need; they raised a total of $108,000 (CZK 2.5 million). Another of our corporate partners raised $65,000 (CZK 1.5 million) to support 15 projects alleviating isolation among people during the pandemic. And we helped another corporate partner award $700,000 (CZK 16.5 million) to 11 organizations providing Covid-19 aid in 11 different countries.

To all of our donors and supporters in 2020, thank you!