When I look back at 2021, it is the everyday stories that spring to my mind. Although 2021 was a year of extremes, given the pandemic and the tornado in Moravia, we also noticed that many people began to appreciate the ordinary, day to day activities that lie right outside their windows. We received more wonderful ideas than ever before, from people wanting to improve their communities across the entire country. We were able to support over 300 of them. You can read more about our work and specific programs below.
Through Living Communities, we support smaller neighborhood projects initiated by citizens who want to make their communities better by strengthening ties between neighbors and people’s ties to the landscape. We supported about 180 community projects in 2021 and 20 projects protecting local public interests. We supported a group of people in the town of Manětín, who are restoring a dilapidated historic outdoor swimming area, for instance, and the Prádelna (“Laundry”) initiative, which is about creating a community cultural centre in a former laundry building in the town of Česky Krumlov. The project offers something to locals as an alternative to the heavy focus on tourist services in the town.
Through this program, we support projects that engage a large part of a community in transforming a public space. Residents help plan, design and build spaces where people of all ages can interact. In 2021, we supported people improving a hillside lookout in Moravske Budějovice, a villa garden in Prague – Holešoviče and a library courtyard in Vodňany. We also continued supporting three earlier projects that had been slowed down by the pandemic.
We give young people a chance to experience philanthropy and community building. In 2021, some 750 young people took part in 101 micro-grants, which enabled them to make small but meaningful changes in their communities, like building an insect hotel or putting on sporting events for younger children. We also continued supporting another 11 larger benefit events that had been postponed due to the pandemic. One group, for example, organized a charity event in Hradec Králové to raise money for a domestic violence prevention organization.
Taking the Fear out of Local Politics
Through this program, we support engaged citizens who are considering running for local office. Most are people who have led community projects in the past and want to serve their communities in new significant ways. A logical next step is joining the town council. Since they come from the NGO sector, they often lack knowledge about the ins and outs of local government and politics. In 2021, our program provided training and mentoring to 23 people from various parts of the Czech Republic.
This is a capacity building program for staff and community development practitioners from three countries (the Czech Republic, Serbia, and Hungary) who share Via’s goals of supporting citizens trying to improve their communities. In 2021, 27 participants shared knowledge and experience in asset-based community development and mapping approaches through the program.
The Art of Giving
We publish The Art of Giving as a quarterly philanthropy insert in the magazine Reportér. In 2021, we covered philanthropy in relation to environmental protection, sports, children’s philanthropy and helping people on the margins of society. We also created a special 100-page Covid-19 edition, which looked at philanthropy trends in the unprecedented coronavirus era.
Our online giving portal reached a big milestone in 2021, as the volume of donations since the portal’s founding in 2010 passed CZK 1 billion. More than 306,000 donors used the portal in 2021 (compared to 155,000 in 2020). And in December 2021, the annual volume of gifts surpassed CZK 500 billion (compared to CZK 232 million in 2020). Over CZK 277 million was gifted to people and municipalities impacted by the June tornado in Moravia. Never before in Czech history had donors sent so much money so quickly.
Via Bona Awards
Our annual Via Bona Awards highlight outstanding example of philanthropy and express our thanks to people helping others. Through the 2021 awards, called Stories of Hope, we shared 6 examples of inspiring neighborhood philanthropy. One awardwinner was Babeta Schneiderová, who housed homeless people in hotels run by her company during the pandemic. She also founded a running group called Advent Runners, through which she has raised over CZK 1 million for families with disabled children.
Moravian Tornado Public Collection
Donors gave over CZK 238 million through Via’s collection for victims of the June tornado. In the first 5 months following the tornado we distributed 69% of the funds raised and we will continue supporting the impacted communities for another 2 years. In the initial phase, we awarded each of the 5 stricken communities CZK million and households received two payments of CZK 150,000 each. Next year we will support projects to revitalize community life in coordination with other organizations.
Projects with Partners
We offer our expertise to companies and donors which have their own philanthropy vision and want to work with us to create customized philanthropy projects. We have an online giving tool that helps companies engage their employees in giving. In 2021, we awarded 339 grants totaling over CZK 18 million through our projects with partners.
We also continued collaborating with one corporate partner to support social businesses impacted by the pandemic. Other partners use our online tool to organize charitable employee collections. And we organized two public collections with the Czech Philharmonic around charity concerts to support families of health care workers who died caring for Covid-19 patients.
The generosity of our donors enables us to provide continuity in support and respond to acute crises. Our goal is to build a foundation that will weather storms in all seasons and give back to society for generations to come. You can join our long-term efforts by making a gift to our endowment here: www.darujme.cz/mojestopa. We use endowment yields to support people in Czech communities, year after year. Thank you.
Best wishes for 2022,